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Special Education Advocacy

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Updated November 10, 2011

Question: Special Education Advocacy
Are there advocacy programs to help parents navigate the special education system?
Answer:

A variety of advocacy programs are available.

First, every school district and state education agency is required to have available a list of low cost/no cost legal and advocacy service organizations. These lists must be provided to parents on request.

Second, every state has at least one federally funded Parent Training and Information Center, which has staff and information on special education services, parental rights, and sources for consultation and advocacy.

Third, every state has a federally funded agency charged with providing legal advocacy services to people with disabilities. These are called the Protection and Advocacy offices.

In addition, the Council of Parents, Attorneys, and Advocates, a national umbrella group for people providing advocacy services on behalf of children with disabilities, also has a search engine to identify agencies or individuals providing legal representation or advocacy.

Directories of legal and advocacy resources are also available through the American Bar Association Commission on Mental Health and Disability Law and through Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy.

In addition to these general resources, many national disability organizations and their state or local chapters can provide guidance in navigating the special education system and/or finding people to help. These include Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), and Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA).

For general information on disabilities, the National Information Clearinghouse for Handicapped Children and Youth (NICHCY), has a wide range of useful materials. In addition, LDOnline has a wide range of resources and information on special education rights and disability law.

Source:

Matt Cohen. Email correspondence/interview. April 28, 2009.

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