SST? IEP? BIP? Three Reasons To Hire an Advocate ASAP


There are times when children need focus, support or services in order to achieve his or her potential. When your child is the topic of long meetings with staff members at school—during which objectives and evaluations are discussed using confusing acronyms—the process can be overwhelming. It can be helpful to hire an advocate to guide and support you through the process and to the desired results.

Here are three key reasons to hire an Advocate, or at least consult with one, immediately when your child is subject to school district proceedings.

While most staff members do consider a child’s best interest, there are times when conflicting and contrasting goals get in the way of objective clarity. In our current economic climate, members of IEP teams are frequently admonished by their higher ups to cut existing services and/or deny new services. It is not legal for decisions to be made regarding appropriate placement/services for students with special needs based on monetary concerns. ONLY a student’s unique and individual needs can drive placement and services. In this, an Advocate brings experience—an awareness of the possibilities, familiarity with the tools and knowledge of the process. With this, an Advocate can help ensure the best possible result of efforts on behalf of your child.

According to Elissa Henkin, MA, Advocate and Special Education Consultant from Thousand Oaks, CA “As school district funding for special education programs and services shrink, IEP teams are becoming more creative in their ways of rationalizing decreases in services and increases in class size.” An Advocate will help steer the process keeping focus on your child’s needs. “Your child’s unique and individual needs are the ONLY factors that drive appropriate placement and services,” Henkin says.

The school team is a close knit group of teachers, principal and school personnel. When seated together across the table, it can leave a parent feeling outnumbered. Having an Advocate can help guide you through the process and offer the support you need preparing for the meeting(s), proceeding with professionalism, and following up with the agreements.

First, the process involves your child—so it is emotional. You are more vulnerable when negotiating because your heart is in the center of it. You want the best for your child, and an Advocate can help you navigate the process with clarity, objectivity and experience.

Again, Henkin reminds that “YOU are the world’s foremost expert on your child’s needs. YOU are your child’s greatest advocate.” And an Advocate can help support you in this journey.

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