I posted the other day on things to know when dealing with school systems and educational plans. Specifically IEP's and 504's. With life the way it is, sometimes you just can't be at every meeting or conference. I have the luxury of working from home with a pretty flexible employer, so taking time is not so much an issue. Most parents don't have a choice but to work and miss these crucial meetings. This is where a parent advocate would be a valuable asset.
So what is a parental advocate? A parental advocate is someone who can take you place when dealing with the school system and your child. An advocate can also be right beside you during the meetings as well. They are like lawyers without the overpriced fees. Advocates do charge for their services but at more affordable rates.
The advocates I have spoken to in my area run an array of items they will help parents with. Attending meetings to assure the correct plan is built is a major one for the ones in my area. Advocates feel the school systems will tend to let these children with plans fall through the cracks in my area. Another item advocates can help with is moving a child into a different school if warranted. One advocate I spoke with explained how the school wasn't following their own guidelines which was causing the child to fail. After requesting school records, observing the way the child was handled, and sitting down with the special education department she was able to have the child placed into a school out of the current district. In doing so, the advocate proved the schools failure which made the school liable for.the costs. Yep, the school system had to pay for this child to go another school. See how an advocate could be helpful?
There is a ton of information on these groups and how the can help on the internet. The two sites I have found to be the most useful are www.copaa.org and www.parentaladvocates.org. Each one of those sites will give you a good foundation on making a choice if an advocate would be right for you.