Tag Archives: Thousand Oaks

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.

For more information, feel free to visit www.ElissaHenkin.com

Testimonial from EM of Agoura Hills

alphabetElissa has worked with our family since my son was in 5th grade and we hired her to advocate on his behalf since at the time my wife and I were wholly unfamiliar with special education and the IEP process.

My son is now in his second year of college and I can say unequivocally that he would never have made it to college without Elissa’s assistance. She was strong in her approach with the school district and thorough in her knowledge of both the fact of our case as well as our rights as parents of a special needs child. She was (and is) always available to take my calls, no matter where she was. And her fees are incredibly reasonable for all the work she did. I would have spent much, much more for the welfare of my child and for all she did. Both my wife and I recommend Elissa often to all parents who need to have an advocate for their special needs child … which is all parents who ever have to attend and IEP.

~ E.M. Agoura Hills

Testimonial from MB of Pacific Palisades

Hands touching a globeHaving a child with special needs can be a living nightmare unless you have angels like Elissa Henkin to deliver you from the morass of bureaucratic stumbling blocks and educational trials that come with navigating the therapeutic school system. We owe both our son’s success and our parental peace of mind to Elissa Henkin who, with great grace and skill, has fought for us and managed our boy’s case for the past ten years. She is highly knowledgeable and works diligently for her clients with a sincere heart and admirable professionalism. We recommend this advocate’s top-notch assistance to parents struggling to obtain the school setting and services their special child needs.

~ M.B., Pacific Palisades

Testimonial from EA of Pacific Palisades

thumbs upI give the highest recommendation to Elissa Henkin I could possibly give. She has been by our side since our special needs son was 3. We thought we could handle the IEP process on our own, but sadly we were wrong. Elissa consulted with us, came to our second IEP and turned things around for us.

The school district wanted to send our son to a special needs school when he is clearly capable of general Ed. She fought for him and we got everything we wanted and more. She has since attended every IEP we have had, and each IEP meeting is smooth and easy. She is very reasonably priced, she is knowledgeable. and she has good relationships with the schools. I am grateful to have her has a resource and have recommended her to countless friends who have been equally as happy.

~ E.A., Pacific Palisades

Testimonial from MP of Pacoima

EH-HANDprintI have had a business relationship with Ms. Elissa Henkin since 1995. My son has been a very hard case to manage, and ever since the first contact and intake meeting, Ms. Henkin has been nothing but proficient and she has delivered her services and advice in a caring and appropriate manner. Her fees have been explained ahead of time, and our family never felt that they were gauged or abused. We paid for her knowledge and assistance. She supports our son’s education up to today.

As I mentioned his case has been a challenging at times. She facilitated our case in three mediations, and there was the year we had four IEPS. She is on the client’s side, and uses the IDEA law to support the needs of children with disabilities. We did not need to go to court; she had the expertise and comprehension to advocate for our son. She was the link, supporting our family, and advocating so that the school district would meet the needs of our son appropriately.

Special Education is a very sensitive subject to me, and when I read reviews like the one that Pegrouhi wrote, it is an attack on my family. The FACT is that Ms. Henkin has delivered nothing but the best skilled and qualified services for over 17 years. Her contribution to our son’s education has been priceless. My son is 21 years old, and Elissa has been part of his team of experts since he was 4 years old. It takes a village of special educators and advocates to navigate the educational system. If you are looking for a compassionate, specialized and concerned Special Education Advocate, Ms. Elissa Henkin is one of the few experts that has paved and lead the way. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND HER SERVICES.

~ M.P., Pacoima

Testimonial from Brian W. Culver City

HEARTpencilsI really wish I didn’t have to use her services , but when you have a child with special needs and you want the best for that child you need to use the best services. Ms Henkin provided me with service that I will be forever grateful for.

I was told my son would never graduate high school . I refused to accept that . I was willing to do the work required to help him and also do whatever it took. Ms Henkin was recommended to me and after a long conversation at no cost I hired her to represent my son and me. The minute we walked into our first IEP the tone of the administrators changed. They knew her and realized I was a parent who meant business.

She worked with us for six years while my son was in both middle and high school . Her diligence and hard work insured that my son graduated. I am forever in her debt . Phone calls were always returned in a timely manner, she was never late for an appointment, she was able to get us services we never knew existed. My son may have the diploma, but really her name should be on that sheep skin as well. A true professional in every sense and a pleasure to work with. Anyone who loves their children will love this wonderful woman and the dedicated work she will provide.

~ Brian W. Culver City