Parent Advocacy: Strategies You Can Use

If your child has Special Education needs, you can be their biggest advocate. Being a parent advocate means standing up for and defending your child’s educational rights in their school. While the Special Education system in Ontario schools can be confusing, there are a few ways to make it less daunting and more empowering to you as a parent. Below are some tips and resources to help you navigate the system and become equipped with the knowledge to help your child find support and success.

1.       Stay informed. This includes being familiar with the IPRC procedures, as well as knowing the rights of your child under the Education Act. In particular, Bill 82 amended the Education Act to include the Education Act on Special Education, stating, among many rights, that:

  • Boards have the responsibility of providing special education programs modified for students with exceptionalities
  • Ministers have the responsibility of ensuring that boards have early and ongoing identification processes for exceptionalities, and
  • Ministers have the responsibility of ensuring there is an appeal process for parents regarding decisions made in the identification or placement process

2.       Find Support. School Advocacy Hamilton’s website suggests that in meetings with your child’s education team, you bring someone to support you. This person may be a family member or friend, or a member of a community organization that can help you as a witness at meetings, help write letters, help find information, help find solutions to problems and assist in understanding the education system.

3.       Ask for explanations. Parentsadvocacy.com suggests asking for a copy of any policy that a school refers to when discussing your child’s education plan. Make sure you are clear about any terms or processes that you are unsure about.

4.       Teach your child self-advocacy. You can be your child’s voice outside of the classroom, but it is equally important for students to understand what can help them become successful. See an upcoming blog for self-advocacy strategies for students in the classroom.

For helpful links and clear explanations to understanding hierarchy relationships, IPRC procedures, and other information related to the identification process, see School Advocacy Hamilton’s website: http://www.schooladvocacy.ca/ For more information about individualized learning and academic support, contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space (416) 925-1225 or visit http://www.ruthrumack.com.

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