Make your IEP binder systematic and empowering now.

Special Education Websites for Parents

Nowadays, there are many helpful special education resources for parents on the Internet. The only inconvenience is that they are scattered online, and it takes a lot of time and effort to find all the information that you need. Also, it’s easy to lose some important discoveries.

That’s the reason we’ve put together a list of useful special education websites for parents so that you can quickly and easily find everything you need in one place.

Whether you are exploring educational possibilities and options for your children with special needs or you are looking for some legal help, you will find your answers in the following resources.

 Understood

Practical tips, free experts’ help, supportive online community, and personalized resources for parents whose children have learning and attention issues.

WEBSITE

Disability Scoop

News organization that covers developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and more.

WEBSITE

Wrightslaw

One of the best websites for parents that offers precise and reliable information about education law, special education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.

WEBSITE

Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego

A nonprofit corporation dedicated to providing resources and information to professionals and families that take care of children with special needs.

WEBSITE

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates

One of the most comprehensive websites that provides resources to protect special education rights for students with disabilities and their parents, as well as resources for advocates, attorneys, and related professionals.

WEBSITE

TERI

TERI Campus of life offers education and training opportunities for children with disabilities designed to match each student specific needs.

WEBSITE

Foundation for Developmental Disabilities

Offering resource and help to persons with developmental disabilities and their families through scholarships, grants for programs, help fund and more.

WEBSITE

My Special Needs Connection

A free comprehensive online and on-ground San Diego resource of articles, webinars, and events for families who have children with special needs.

WEBSITE

Arc of San Diego

A nonprofit organization that offers quality programs for children and adults with disabilities in order to promote personal, economic and social independence.

WEBSITE

California Department of Education

Resources and guidelines to help children with disabilities on their transition from school to adult life, including education and training, employment and independent living.

WEBSITE

Is there any other special education websites for parents that you found really helpful? Please share them with us and help us grow this useful resource that will become a go-to place for parents and family members with children with disabilities.

Why an IEP Binder Is Important

Raising a child is a full-time job which requires a lot of strength and effort. It means having to deal with plenty of paperwork and numerous meetings during the school age. This is even more true if you are a parent of a child with special needs, who requires even more of your attention and dedication.

Formal education is one of the key points in the life of an individual with special needs. This is why special ed resources for parents are there to make life easier on both the parents and the teachers. Trying to keep yourself on top of everything as a parent can sometimes really be difficult, but this is why having an IEP binder is a good idea.

What is an IEP binder?

First of all, IEP is an abbreviation for Individualized Education Plan. It is intended for schools under IDEA, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. An IEP binder was designed as a great way to organize the almost never-ending amount of paperwork, forms, emails, and other documents regarding your child which just seem to pile up. The binder is supposed to help you in keeping all of that under control and at your fingertips if and when needed.

What should an IEP binder contain?

Organizing an IEP binder depends on the individual and their needs, as that’s what it’s all about. One of the things to keep in mind is that you might need more than one binder to have enough room for all documents. They should be a personalized account of your child’s strengths and weaknesses as well as your little stamp of creativity for easier coping. Leave room for comments in each of the possible sections and figure out which ones you need to extend or get rid of along the way.

Communication

Gather the info of all members who are on your child’s IEP team and put it here, for easier reaching. Also, this part is great for tracking any phone or email communication with the school, printed out if needed for further reference.

IEP

Have all the rights and procedures the school requires here, so they won’t have to give you more papers next time. Use it for comparison between different IEPs if there was more than one for your child. Jot down any notes from the meetings for further discussion.

Home observations

Growth and development are achieved not only in school but at home as well and this is why it’s good to keep a written account of what your child does with ease or with difficulties at home. Note the dates to observe progress with time.

Behavior

Every school has behavior rules and procedures which you need to consider. They also come in handy if your child is disciplined for something which could be connected with his disability. Any behavior interventions or disciplinary notes should also be kept here, just in case.

Need help organizing your IEP binder? Contact us

Having an IEP binder can greatly save you time and help in between the required meetings. Pacific Coast Advocates offers you free e-binder resources to find your way around paperwork and records more easily and efficiently. Follow the link at the beginning of this text, enter your email and we’ll send you the e-resources. No spam ever, just help! Or, if you like we’d love to give you a free 30-minute phone consultation regarding your child’s IEP or 504. Call us at 858-750-1634 or email us at shannon@pacificcoastadvocates.com.

 

Where to Get Resources and Community Support for Children with Special Needs in San Diego

Parents of children with special needs often feel overwhelmed with the challenges of raising their children. Luckily, special education community resources are available on the Internet, through events and local organizations. Please note that some of the listed resources are local.

Educational content

Here are some websites that could help you with your child’s special education.

Integrative learning

Dedicated to using individual learning programs based on brain waves and direct research, so the children are happy and confident using their own learning style.

Scholarship guide for students with disabilities

Trying to find all resources and options for applying for scholarships is explained with all the rights students have, including which schools provide help in the process.

Open education database

Online and remote learning can be a great option for children with disabilities and some of the options and facilities who offer them are listed here.

Learning disabilities online

Plenty of information and resources on learning disabilities and ADHD, both for children and adults. The site features various articles, texts and other informational documents.

Sports and recreation

Every individual needs physical activity and recreation in order to stay healthy. Sports can sometimes become too competitive and difficult for children with special needs to participate. This is why community support for parents of children with special needs really gets to shine in this area.

San Diego Park & Recreation Therapeutic Recreation Services

Special recreational, therapeutic and leisure programs and opportunities for people with various kinds of disabilities.

Miracle League Of San Diego

A buddy-based system of integrating children with special needs, ages 5 and up, into a custom-made baseball league.

AYSO VIP Soccer San Elijo

Participation in a soccer team with personal instructors for everyone, with the goal of having fun and staying safe, no matter what the disability.

Special Olympics

The biggest world sporting contest for people with disabilities has a regional center, which provides valuable information and sports plans for disabled athletes.

San Marcos Shooting Stars

Kids aged 5-22 can have fun while learning all about basketball and participating in fun, non-competitive sport sessions.

Other valuable resources

Community support for parents of children with special needs include other important aspects as well, with a diverse number of resources. There are sites with general beneficial topics and materials, as well as those specialized in individual issues. Parents can find help with social security, hair care, medical care and cognitive skills of their children. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there are always others who understand your needs and offer adequate resources. For a full ist follow the Resources tab in our main navigation menu.

Where to find community support for parents of children with special needs in San Diego? We know!

Pacific Coast Advocates understands the importance of good resources for special education and we know where you can find them in San Diego (and we may be able to offer some help about resources in other parts of the country). We encourage you to book your free 30-minute phone consultation with us at 858-750-1634 or at shannon@pacificcoastadvocates.com.

 

Special Education Advocate vs. Attorney – Which Do I Need?

After we discussed when you might need a special education lawyer in San Diego and what these professionals do, let’s compare their services to an advocate’s. We’ll do this with the help of a very resourceful portal for parents of children with disabilities Understood.com.

A breakdown of services: special education advocate vs. attorney

The most important difference is that an advocate cannot give you legal advice, represent you in a legal capacity nor prepare legal documents in a dispute.

An advocate can:

  • Review your child’s IEP or 504 plan
  • Attend IEP and 504 meetings with you in order to facilitate solutions
  • Negotiate with the school for you
  • Advise you on the appropriate services and support for your child
  • Inform you on your and your child’s rights with regard to special education
  • Recommend specialists, service providers and other institutions/professionals that might be of help
  • Help you write letters to the school

An attorney can:

  • Review your child’s IEP or 504 from a legal viewpoint
  • Attend IEP or 504 meetings with you
  • Negotiate with the school for you
  • Advise you on your and your child’s rights with respect to special education
  • Write letters to the school for you
  • Represent you in a mediation, due process and impartial hearing
  • Represent you in court
  • Prepare legal documents, including complaints

The qualifications of a special education advocate vs. attorney

There are no minimum educational requirements, no specific training and no continuing educational requirements for someone to call themselves a special education advocate. That’s why it is very important to do your homework before you hire an advocate.

On the other hand, for someone to call themselves a lawyer in San Diego, they must have a license to practice law in California. Not many lawyers focus on special education law, but there are some.

Whether you are considering hiring an advocate or an attorney, here are some questions that could help you find a good match for your case:

  • How long have you been practicing in this field?
  • Have you worked with this school district?
  • Have you worked on similar cases?
  • Do you have a personal experience
  • What would you propose as a course of action in our case?
  • How will I be included in the process?
  • How will you keep me in the know about the developments?
  • Who will manage my child’s records?

You should also make sure you ask about fees, services included in those fees, contracts and agreements if applicable and malpractice insurance (for attorneys).

What are the benefits of hiring special education advocate vs. attorney?

Advocates and attorneys have different, if sometimes overlapping, skills. The benefits of hiring an advocate or an attorney are not just the differences in their knowledge and skills, but also in the way they can bring you leverage in your relationship with the school.

With an advocate at your side, you would hire someone who will:

  • Review your child’s IEP or 504 with a focus on goals and objectives, teaching methods, behavior strategies, assistive technology
  • Be able to differentiate disabilities and difficulties and recommend further evaluations/professionals to work with
  • Be able to talk directly to the school representatives (attorneys generally have to communicate with the school via their attorney)
  • Very likely be able to negotiate child-centered solutions at the IEP level, without the need of proceeding to mediation or due process
  • Most likely not be seen as an adversary

Regarding the last point – schools can react differently to the presence of an advocate, but they are generally open to working with advocates. You will need to notify the school if you intend to hire one. Whereas hiring an attorney may send a clear message about how serious you are, it may also be seen as an aggressive and confrontational move. The school will typically bring in their attorney as well, which may hinder communication.

With a special education lawyer next to you, you hire someone who will:

  • Be able to assess your situation from the legal perspective
  • Advise you of the legal implication of actions you are considering taking
  • Handle legal documentation for your case
  • Make you look more aggressive in your pursuit of appropriate services for your child

The message is – you don’t have to go it alone

You don’t have to pursue appropriate services and support for your child on your own. And when you think you want to have a professional at your side, you needn’t decide all on your own either. Pacific Coast Advocates are here to give you a no-cost 30-minute phone consult that could provide you the information you need to make the special education advocate vs. attorney decision. We are a team of highly qualified special ed advocates, who are also parents of children with disabilities, and we have a good relationship with a number of special education attorneys in San Diego. Feel free to reach out to us to book your free consult at 858-750-1634 or shannon@pacificcoastadvocates.com.

What Can a Special Education Attorney Do for Me?

“Accurate information is a key part of motivation,” according to Mary Ann Allison. Special education is not a straightforward, step-by-step process and parents generally need help navigating it and securing all the services their child is entitled to. There may be times when you, as a parent, need a special education attorney or advocate to support you and your child. You need to know who to turn to so you feel more motivated and confident. Most often, parents approach advocates or attorneys. Here’s some information that sheds some light on what a special education attorney can do for you.

What does a special education attorney do?

An attorney is a legal professional. There is a lot of legislation related to special education, such as: the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB). These acts and regulations mandate that states provide a free education and appropriate services to secure equal opportunities for all students. Parents of children with special needs are often unfamiliar with all the legislation, or at least, they don’t understand the legislation fully and how it relates to their situation. Advocating for your child’s individual needs and appropriate services is a lot easier if you know your rights. That is something a special education attorney can help with.

An attorney can act as an advocate, using their mediation and negotiation skills, and can also advise parents on the benefits and risks of taking legal action against the school authorities. If the parents decide to pursue further legal action, the attorney can manage the process.

In short, given their background and expertise, special education attorneys are able to tell parents what they need to know, particularly relating to their rights and the legal side of things.

What can a special education attorney do for ME?

Practically speaking, you can use legal services to get guidance on what you can do and how, or you can use them to have a formal representative in your relationship with the school.

Here are examples of practical tasks that a special education attorney can perform for you:

  • Obtaining your child’s school records
  • Requesting your child be evaluated
  • Requesting an IEP meeting
  • Preparing for an IEP meeting
  • Attending an IEP meeting with you
  • Examining your situation from a legal point of view
  • Assessing the strength of your case
  • Negotiating with the school to reach an agreement and solution outside the court
  • Preparing for hearings
  • Attending hearings with you and handing the related administration
  • Preparing a formal complaint to be filed with an educational body
  • Representing you in court

How is hiring an attorney different from hiring an advocate?

You might have noticed that a lot of the above tasks can also be performed by an advocate. There is some overlapping, yes, so you should carefully consider whether you need a special education attorney or an advocate. The most important difference is that an attorney is a legal professional. Whereas an advocate can inform you about your rights, only an attorney is qualified to give you legal advice.

There are also some other considerations regarding what an attorney, not an advocate can do for you.

An attorney could be better suited to give you guidance in a complex dispute.

An attorney can perform a legal review of your case, present you the risks and benefits of taking legal action, so that you can decide whether you want to pursue that course of action.

An attorney could help you stand on an equal footing to the school if the school has a legal representative.

Hiring an attorney would make your relationship with the school more formal.

Pacific Coast Advocates could answer your questions

Are you experiencing difficulties communicating with the school? Do you feel discouraged, insecure and disoriented? Pacific Coast Advocates welcome you to book a free, no-obligation, 30-minute phone consult to discuss your situation. PCA is an expert team of special education advocates based in San Diego. We give you a unique service offering and a collaborative, child-centered approach. Reach out to us – we’d love to help any way we can!

Do I Need a Special Education Attorney in San Diego?

The majority of San Diego families with children who need special education services and support never need a special education attorney in San Diego at their side. However, there are situations when you are simply not sure whether you can produce results on your own or whether you need a legal professional to secure all the appropriate educational services for your child.

Circumstances that may call for a special education attorney in San Diego

Here are some situations in which it’s possible you need an attorney:

  • Your case involves complicated placement and services issues.
  • You or the district believe that the child should be placed out of district.
  • There has been a change in placement.
  • You are not sure about the strength of your case.
  • The district has an attorney to handle your case, so you may need one as well to level the playing field.
  • You (or the school district) are thinking of filing for a due process hearing.
  • You have been given a settlement agreement to sign in exchange for services or money.
  • There have been serious disciplinary issues, possibly even a Manifestation Determination.
  • Services in your child’s IEP have not been delivered, despite your ongoing efforts to get them.

Examples of violations of your and your child’s rights

  • Parent’s request for assessment of possible need for special education services has been refused.
  • The child hasn’t been assessed in all suspected areas of disability.
  • Parents were not informed about their procedural rights.
  • Reports from privately retained experts have been ignored.
  • Parents have been prevented from fully participating in the IEP.
  • Measurable goals have not been included in the IEP.
  • Necessary services have been denied for lack of resources.
  • The child has been suspended or expelled for behavior that is a manifestation of their disability.

Maybe you don’t need an attorney, but an advocate

It is possible that you don’t need the help of an attorney, but rather an advocate to help you secure the necessary services. Feel free to reach out to Pacific Coast Advocates at 858-750-1634 or shannon@pacificcoastadvocates.com to find out your best course of action.

We need an attorney, but we can’t afford one

Hiring an attorney can prove expensive, but in your case it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. If you don’t have enough means to hire a special education attorney in San Diego for full representation, it is typically possible to retain their services for certain tasks only. There could also be non-profit organizations offering some legal help, or legal clinics at law schools that provide some services at little or no cost.

While some attorneys charge hourly, there are some that have packages. In any case, most attorneys do provide free consultations, which you can use to inquire about their services and fees, as well as to find out whether they think you really need legal representation in the first place.

If you are looking for a special education attorney in San Diego, PCA may be able to help

Pacific Coast Advocates are a unique team of special education advocates in San Diego. Whereas we are not legal professionals, we are experts in special education services and have built positive relationships with a few special education attorneys in San Diego during our work. Here is a list of attorneys that we have referred clients to, in no special order:

Meagan Nunez:  https://www.sdspecialattorney.com

Seth Schwartz:  http://www.dorightlaw.com

Jazmine Gelfand:  https://specialedlegalcare.com

Cara Lucier:  http://www.caralucier.com

Thomas S. Nelson:  http://www.specialedlaw.us

We always hope to help. Stay in touch!

The Parent Perspective: Parents and IEP Process

Being a part of your child’s Individual Education Program (IEP) team is a right, but also a responsibility.  It is important that parents provide their valuable input.  After all, you are the one that knows your child best!

Identify areas of impediment

One of the first steps in preparing for your child’s IEP is to review your child’s development with a practical eye.  You want to look closely at all areas of possible concern.  A great tool for a parent to use in identifying areas of impediment is a developmental inventory.  These scales describe the maturation of skills as an individual develops, assigning standardized ages at which most children obtain a particular skill.  While some children splinter, excelling in one area while trailing in another, most students develop in a very systemic way.

A note of caution – do not get hung up on the age assigned to the development of a particular skill.  Instead, look for areas where your child has plateau and use this as a guide for suggesting goal areas to your team.

Don’t forget – you can also share goals that you plan to work on at home even if they do not translate to the educational setting. Sharing these goals will help build a picture of the whole child.

Share the good things

One of the best ways to set a positive tone with your child’s team, and to provide a means for sharing your valuable information is to submit a brag sheet.  A brag sheet full of great pictures of your child and details on what makes him/her tick offers the team an inside look at not only the student, but the son, the brother, the cousin, the friend.

It is important to share the wonderful things your child does at home and in his/her community.  Describe to the team what your child enjoys, what their strengths are.  Frame your discussion by sharing what your vision is for your child.  Provide a picture of your child’s future, and how you see the coming year being a part of the journey to get there.

Describe to the team what you see as your child’s strengths and challenges.  A team can develop important strategies that will help your child be successful in the classroom when they know what makes them tick.  Knowing what concerns you have will help members of your child’s team identify areas that may require goals for the coming year.  Make sure you distribute your child’s brag sheet to all members of their educational team during the assessment and goal writing process.

Prepare ahead

Last but not least, be sure to ask that your team provide you with copies of all documents including but not limited to assessments, reports, progress toward goals and drafted goals and objectives prior to the meeting.  Having the opportunity to review these important documents ahead of time allows you to move through any emotional reaction you may have to what is included, as well as to familiarize yourself with other team members’ observations and perspectives.

When you need the help of professionals, Pacific Coast Advocates are here!

Pacific Coast Advocates can help you navigate the education process for your child, including Individual Education Programs and 504 meetings. We have a child-centered, collaborative approach and will work to empower you as a parent to secure the best possible education for your child with special needs.