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Parent Mentors and IEPs


Question marks in a bundle

Editor’s note:

Parent Mentors share advice and information over a closed group listserve. Often, the information shared there goes beyond the emails and the advice, and information shared becomes part of the work that parent mentors do. From time to time, the responses are so helpful it becomes part of the content we share on a wider scale – giving website users and others a glimpse into the Parent Mentor Partnership at Work

Recently, one mentor wrote in on the topic of assisting parents at IEPs. The info was too good not to share:

Question: Hi everyone,  I received a call asking for my attendance at an IEP for a child I know nothing about and have never met.  Now, of course, I don’t mind going, but I am not sure what I can or should do.  The teacher is also new and I haven’t met her either.  The teacher wants me to talk about Waivers, VR, transition and independent Vs Group living after HS.  It’s a lot and I am not sure where to start or how to present the info in a way that sounds organized and is helpful. Does anyone have any suggestions?

 

Answers:

“Lucky you! What a wonderful opportunity to support parents and staff. I applaud the teacher for asking for support.”

Here is a link:

https://www.disability.gov/transition-planning/

 

Here is a link to a page on the Parent Mentor website  under the  Resources tab

https://parentmentors.org/our-resources/family-resources/high-school/

 

One mentor elaborated on the various ways parent mentors can assist a parent at an IEP meeting:

“What’s your particular area of expertise?

-If you’re a good communicator, you can help the parent express him/herself clearly at the meeting (with permission, of course).

-If you’re a good organizer, you can help the parent prepare for the meeting by talking through issues/topics and brainstorming solutions.

-If you’re a good resource finder, tell the team you can help look for resources to support the plans developed in the IEP, esp after you’ve had a chance to get to know the student and parent better.”

Another offered:

“I always go with a packet of resources.   For ninth grade I would take a transition checklist, medicaid waiver, VR application, and my business card.  Many times I have gone to an IEP and don’t know the parent and student.  If possible I try and call the parent before the meeting to ask if they have any questions or concerns and do some basic IEP coaching.  I take notes and bring it to the meeting.  That way if the parent gets overwhelmed;  you have a list.

Not all parent mentors attend IEP meetings. These decisions are made by the school system’s special education director.”

Most parent mentors find ways to assist families even if in their district IEP meetings are not specifically in their job description: 

“In my school system, I typically do not attend IEP meetings.  On the rare occasion that a parent really insists that I go, I have get approval from my director and we inform the IEP team ahead of time.

I then try to meet with the parent ahead of time and ask her (him or them) to bring the child’s current IEP.  I typically ask what is going on currently, how the accommodations are helping and if there is something that the parent really wants to change or add to the IEP.  We make notes on the planning tool so it can be brought to the IEP meeting.   We make a list of everything we want to ask or cover during the meeting, too.

When I have attended IEP meetings, it has been primarily as moral support and as a note-taker so the parent can concentrate on what is being discussed.  If there are acronyms used, I interject what they stand for so the parent will not have to ask.  I also make sure that the parent uses the planning tool and list we made ahead of time.  In some instances, parents feel rushed and I want them to know that the IEP is their time to speak, too – they are a member of the IEP team and not just a spectator.”

Att: Teachers and Families!

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If you have additional questions, contact info@parentmentors.org