This post is a summary of a podcast done by Dr. Susan Burnett of CSNLG.  Listen to the podcast here.

I have lost count of how many times I have been asked by concerned friends if they should hire someone to help me navigate their child’s learning challenges. That typically is the first of many subsequent questions of a parent or guardian trying to seek the most effective way to help their child. The questions seem to be endless, especially when worrying about how to approach something that you are not an expert in.

IEP Meetings

IEP meetings are emotional for parents. Susan addresses these concerns and discusses what the experience of working with an advocate can look like. For example

  • IEP meetings can be friendly and not hostile. Susan provides a perspective on how to approach an IEP meeting.
  • The conflicts that arise in IEP meetings are typically between the district and the family.
  • The service providers and teachers only know what is offered at their school and not much past that.
  • A program specialist will know of more options available throughout the district.
  • The best approach in an IEP meeting is to remain friendly and solution focused.

Who or What Is an Advocate and How Much Do They Cost?

According to Susan, an advocate is someone who offers support and expertise.

  • Advocates try to resolve issues with the district and avoid needing an attorney.
  • Advocates are able to work on a case from the beginning of an issue or join in when the parents feel as if they have hit a wall with the system.

The expense of going through the process of figuring out what services your child is entitled to can be an overwhelming thought for many parents.  Susan addresses that parents want to know what sort of an investment they may be getting themselves into.

  • For advocates in Susan’s area of Southern Californi, the range is $150-$175 per hour.
  • Susan’s take is that it is safe to expect to spend around $1000 for case review, recommendations, and a couple of IEP meetings.
  • However, once it is decided that an attorney should be involved the costs will change.


Susan addressed all these concerns and offered insight on what emotions are involved in the process.

I know from personal experience that having support throughout the process made a difference for me. I had never taken the time to learn about special education services and was relieved when I had someone beside me that was so sophisticated in the areas of educational challenges that my son was faced with.

Susan says it perfectly in her podcast “knowledge is power!” 






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