The most important step you can take to becoming an effective advocate for your child is to find people in the community who will provide you with information and support.
Often parents can feel intimidated or uninformed when dealing with their child’s education team. This may be the result of the attitudes and actions of school or school board personnel or of the feelings and attitudes of parents. In either case, it can lead to very ineffective and unproductive relationships.
Finding a support person, and asking them to attend meetings with you, is one of the best ways to even up this power imbalance.
If you have someone with you when you attend meetings with a teacher or principal, school personnel will be more careful about what they say and how they treat you.
How can a Support Person Help Me?
A support person can...
Where Can I find a Support Person?
There are many people and organizations in the community that can help you advocate for your child.
Some of these people will be professionals who have the power to influence decisions made about your child. A counselor or social worker, for example, can write a letter to the school that gives the school information about the special physical, emotional, or educational needs of your child.
A support person can be a friend, family member, or a person who works for a community agency.
A support person may be able to provide you with expert advice, such as people who work for the organizations represented on your School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee.
Sometimes what the parent advocate needs is moral support, someone who can listen and be a calming influence even if they do not have any special expertise with school advocacy issues. This kind of support person can be a family member or friend.
Both kinds of support person can help parents advocate on behalf of their children.
How Do I Find People in the Community to Support Me?
Contact a friend or family member who you can talk to, and who will come to meetings with you.
Make some phone calls to community agencies and services in the community. People who work for community agencies often are aware of other services available in the community. Ask them what services they can provide. Ask them if they know of anyone else who may be able to help.
Network with other parents and parent groups for mutual support. Talk to people and organizations in the community that share your concerns.
When trying to find a support person from a community agency, you may not call the most helpful person on the first try. Keep trying until you find someone that can help you.
Copyright © 2006 School Advocacy.ca - All rights reserved.