Advocacy Basics

1. What is an advocate? An advocate is one who speaks or argues in favor of someone or something. As Educational Advocates, we speak out for children who can’t speak for themselves. An advocate evaluates educational records and then recommends changes that may be needed for the child’s advancement. Advocates can coach parents and caregivers to attend to their childrens advocacy needs, and may also attend ARD’s (Admission, Review or Dismissal) and 504 meetings, along with other meetings as needed, alongside and with the parents to provide support as the students educational services and needs are negotiated. Civil rights complaints, licensure complaints, and private placement, as well as due process hearings, are areas where the knowledge and familiarity of an advocate is recommended as essential for the best outcome of the student.

2. When do you need an advocate? Advocates are needed for many reasons, from managing and solving complex IEP/BIP issues to simply countering harassment and intimidation from school officials in the simplest of advocacy cases. Advocates communicate with the schools to ensure swift and effective problem resolution.

3. What can an advocate do for you? Advocates guide parents through the process of advocating for their students, and can often provide clients with training that will enable the parents to advocate on behalf of their student(s). Research, recordkeeping, and strategy, among other skills to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, are often considered in a direct approach alongside clients so as to ensure an understanding of the process and encourage the parents to advocate when they may need to.

Lolalee Livingston