TIPS to Keep on Top of Your Child’s IEP
Once your child’s IEP is written, you may feel like you can breathe a sigh of relief, especially if it’s been a difficult process to get an Individualized Education Program put into place. And you should breathe—you’ve successfully navigated a big hurdle.
For many parents, new worries replace that initial wave of relief. Is the school following the plan? Is your child getting the services she needs? Is she making progress?
It’s not always easy to get answers to these questions. Luckily, there are some ways to monitor the situation without making it your full-time job. Here are some ways to keep on top of your child’s IEP
1. Know IEP timelines.
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) outlines a number of deadlines when it comes to the IEP process. After your child’s IEP is written, the school has 10 calendar days in which to put services into place. If your child’s IEP is rolling over from last school year, the program should be in place the first day of school. Mark the deadline on your calendar. A few days prior to that date, check in with the team leader to make sure all the pieces of your child’s program are ready to go.
2. Know your child’s program.
You went to the meeting and have read the IEP, but do you know what your child’s program is going to look like in practice? Learn your child’s schedule and ask for the names of the people who will be working with her. It gives you the opportunity to check in with your child (“Did you spend some time working with Mr. Smith today?”) and provides you with more than one point of contact if you have questions.
3. Make a point to meet your child’s special educators.
Although there’s a case manager to oversee your child’s IEP, the people who work directly with her have a better sense of her progress. Try to take a little time to connect with the paraprofessional or specialists working with your child. It doesn’t have to be in person—busy schedules may not allow for that.
But if you make a phone call or send an email to introduce yourself, it shows the specialists that you’re interested and involved. Once you’ve made that connection, ask what the best way to keep in touch is. Let specialists know that you’d like to be informed of both difficulties and triumphs, no matter how big or small.
It’s also a good idea to set a goal of how often you will check in and to share that. Saying something as simple as “I’ll email or call you every two weeks so we can compare notes on how things are going, what day is good for you?” indicates that you’re not asking permission to be in touch, but that you want to work in a way that’s convenient for everybody.
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