Updated: Jan 17
As you look to hire a professional to advocate on behalf of your child in school, there are two very important facts to keep in mind. These facts shape the way you must go about the process of finding a qualified educational advocate.
Fact One: Educational Advocacy is an unregulated profession.
Anyone can call themselves an educational advocate. There are no licensing requirements or certifications necessary to claim this title. Therefore, it is up to parents to do their due diligence in finding an advocate that is right for their family.
Fact Two: Educational Advocacy is not a cookie-cutter process.
Each family’s advocacy journey should be as individual as the student being advocated for. For this reason, Educational advocates must use their expertise to not only create effective educational plans but also pivot approaches and overcome unforeseen obstacles, while always maintaining a professional and collaborative relationship with the school team. An advocate’s “soft skills” can be just as important as their training and experience.
With these two facts in mind, we've created this step by step process to help you find the professional who is just right to advocate for your child.
5 Steps to Finding a Qualified Educational Advocate
1. Gather the names of multiple advocates in your area.
While asking parents, online forums, and Google for the best educational advocates in your area is a good place to start, we also recommend searching the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates’ directory of advocates and attorneys.
COPAA is a professional non-profit organization whose “members work to protect the legal and civil rights of and secure excellence in education on behalf of tens of thousands of students with disabilities and their families each year at the national, state and local levels.” Starting here narrows your search to professional advocates who agree to work under a set code of ethics and who have access to rigorous and ongoing professional training.
2. Narrow your search by finding a “specialist.”
Specialization is key to getting the best possible guidance and results. We believe that it is especially important to find an advocate whose area of expertise is related to your child’s learning profile. For example, this might mean that they specialize in understanding the unique needs of students with dyslexia, autism, emotional disabilities, or any other disability.
Just as one would prefer to see a cardiologist rather than a general practitioner when creating a care plan for a patient with heart disease, you would want to see an advocate that specializes in dyslexia when creating an educational plan for a student with dyslexia.
3. Interview each advocate fully.
Take time to review our 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an Educational Advocate. These interview questions will help you determine an advocate’s qualifications, experience, and areas of expertise.
4. Make it a family decision.
Discuss the interviews you’ve conducted with all decision-makers to choose the best advocate for your child. Hiring an advocate can be difficult if all decision-makers are not all on board with the advocate’s approach or have different goals for the advocacy process. In some cases, depending on your child’s age, you may wish to include them in the selection process. To be successful in advocacy everyone should be on the same page, working together in the best interest of the child.
5. Consider the investment.
No one budgets for advocacy. In fact, most families are furious that such measures have to be taken in order to get their child a Free and Appropriate Education! While that frustration is understandable, we encourage families to focus on the possible outcomes of effective advocacy.
We have seen the lives of children and their families completely transformed once a child is fully supported in school and receives meaningful instruction. Children who were once suicidal grow to become confident in themselves. Families of children with behavioral concerns find that difficult behaviors minimize once the root of the problem is addressed. Children years below grade level begin reading for pleasure. Families who are caught in a spiral of stress and worry are relieved of that pain and harmony is returned to their homes.
Investing in quality advocacy services, that are proven to get results and give you peace of mind, is truly worth every penny.
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As an educational advocate with over a decade of experience, Lorraine and her team are here to answer your tough questions and share the possibilities that exist when you hire the right professional to advocate for your child.
Are you worried that your dyslexic child is falling behind in school? Are you ready to see your child learn and thrive? If so, we can help! Our advocacy practice has helped countless families transform the lives of their children, and create more peace and harmony at home.
While it isn’t always easy, it CAN happen, and we will support you every step of the way. Let’s Talk about how we can help your family!