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  • Sharon Bellao

Why do you need a Special Education Advocate?

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

When you are hiring an advocate, you are hiring a person who knows the IEP process well. There are a limited number of people who know the full process due to the large amount of information required by each member of the IEP team which consists of a number of different professionals along with the parents. The ideal advocate should have a level of knowledge and expertise to help support and guide you through the entire process. An advocate needs to be professional and should have the ability to strategize, troubleshoot, and solve problems to develop a plan for your child so that he/she can access regular education. An advocate’s expertise should include experience with assessments and he/she should be able to walk you through the process of interpreting assessments which can often be misinterpreted by members of the school team. An ideal advocate should also be able to work collaboratively and professionally with the entire team, even when the team may have some weaknesses. Once the plan is developed, you should be advised and able to follow your child’s progress and have access to your advocate should questions arise as to whether or not the plan is being followed appropriately. Your advocate should take the time to review documents, observe your child in the classroom on request, be familiar with the school district and resources, and guide and support you before, during, and after the meeting as needed. The average cost of an advocate in the state of Massachusetts can vary from $200-$300 per hour and the advocate should tell you upfront how many hours might be expected depending on your needs. Unlike attorney costs, the cost of an advocate is not reimbursable by a school district, although in certain circumstances can be included as part of a settlement agreed upon by the parents and school district. As an advocate, I have a range of experiences in both regular and special education as a teacher and administrator. I have worked as a special education team leader running IEP meetings, and adjunct professor and professional development provider to school districts on best practices in special education. I also understand the process as a parent and have personally experienced how overwhelming it can be to go through the IEP process. I am experienced and well informed and will be a strong advocate sitting by your side.

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