Monday, December 1, 2008

Advocating for others

I've recently been asked to help a couple of families that are having trouble getting appropriate supports and services for their preschoolers. I've been studying special ed law since Emma was about six months old (I've done oodles of trainings, read books, gone to conferences), have (so far) successfully advocated for her, and have been looking for ways to use the knowledge I have for children who aren't mine. My name somehow gets around because of the volunteer work I've done, and even though I've done some coaching over the phone, I haven't actually taken on actual cases until now.

One of the moms I talked to was frantic. I won't give identifying details, but her preschooler was suspended for behavior. Yes, you read that right. A preschooler. Suspended. For behavior.

We talked for over an hour, and she told me an IEP meeting had been scheduled for this week. I offered to go along to the meeting, but told her I would need to review all the previous IEPs, evaluations, and other communication in order to attend as her child's advocate. I offered to pick everything up, and make the copies myself. She told me she would get the paperwork together and call me the next day.

That was a week ago, and I've heard nothing. The IEP meeting is tomorrow. I know she has my phone number, because she called me back the first day we talked to confirm the date and time of the meeting. I am so frustrated, because I know I could make a difference for this child, but I won't go to an IEP meeting without all the facts! I also refuse to chase someone to get what I need - not only am I too busy for that, but since I am an unpaid volunteer, I need people to show some commitment and meet me halfway.

Am I being unreasonable? Or am I setting appropriate boundaries? What would you do?


mum2brady said...

Seriously - I think if the mom really wants help - she should be working WITH you to get what she needs. You are offering a great service - I wish you lived here - we could kick some butt!!

Tara Marie said...

Oh, I was so sad to read this. NO, you are not being unreasonable, you are doing the right thing. My heart aches, because it seems like either, 1. she is completely unorganized or 2. not really able to or wants to help her child. Boundries are very important for you and parents need to actually go more than half way I feel if you are volunteering your time for their child.

I'm so proud of you!!!!

All 4 My Gals said...

Totally appropriate. This is very similar to what my part time job encompasses. You have to have those boundaries. HUGS


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