If you have a special needs child, you’re no doubt familiar with the associated challenges for everyone in the family. For instance, specialized instruction in the school environment may be necessary, and that’s where an individualized education program comes in.
Fortunately, cost need not get in the way of finding an individualized education program that specifically meets your child’s unique needs. The Government of the U.S. has a law on the books that requires schools to offer “specially defined instruction” — cost-free to parents. What this means is that your child can have access to the support and services needed in the learning environment between until he or she completes high school.
Moreover, the extra services and support are in addition to the regular services and support that non-special needs students get. So regardless of your income — limited or otherwise — you won’t have to foot the costs associated with meeting the in-school needs of your children.
According to the California Legislature’s Nonpartisan Fiscal and Policy Advisor, approximately 10% of students in California get special education services, which translates into around 686,000 students who have disabilities ranging from dyslexia to language and speech impediments to autism to other conditions.
Read on to learn more about how to handle an individualized education program that is the right fit for your child.
Individualized Education Program Requirements
An individualized education program takes into account several required considerations that you should know about. They include the following:
- Current Status: This refers to your child’s current stage of academic accomplishment and functional performance.
- Goals: This refers to measurable yearly goals for your child’s performance both academically and functionally.
- Progress Measures: This relates to how progress towards achieving yearly objectives will be measured.
- Services to be Offered: This relates to special education to be offered, including any program modifications needed for your child’s benefit. Information must include the anticipated start date, frequency, place of instruction and length of time the services will be offered.
- Inclusion in Mainstream Environment: This refers to the extent to which your child either will or won’t take part in the regular class environment with non-special needs children.
- Assessment Strategy: This refers to accommodations made to ensure that your child can take part in state and regional assessments needed to measure academic and functional abilities.
- Additional Considerations (as appropriate): This area refers to work or career objectives, alternatives for completing requirements to graduate from high school, strategy for moving from general education to college or university, specialized equipment or transportation requirements, strategy for learning English and/or extending school-year services.
Individualized Education Plan Team Members
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the law mandates that certain individuals need to be involved in developing a child’s individualized education program. The individualized education program members need to include your child, you as the parent, the regular education teacher, the school system representative, the transition services agency representative, people with special knowledge about your child, someone who can assess evaluation results and a special education teacher. This team is required to work towards developing an individualized education plan that is the right fit for your child.
If you don’t approve of the individualized education program, you have the right pursuant to the law to challenge it. For instance, you can take a stand for issues pertaining to your child’s eligibility and the services that your child’s school provides. You can, specifically, discuss the matter with school officials to see if something can be done, request mediation with third-party involvement, request due process hearing and file a complaint with the education agency.
As you can see the individualized education program is available, but it requires effort on your part to ensure that you child gets one that meets his or her unique needs. The more you know going in, the better equipped you will be to find the best option for your child.