Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings are very important for children coping with special needs.
“These meetings are very important because the IEP guides how the child will be educated and outlines goals for the child, interventions and any accommodations and services that will be provided,” says Dodd White, president and CEO of the Episcopal Center for Children, a D.C.-area non-profit organization providing therapeutic and
special education services to children.
“An IEP meeting brings together the entire IEP team assisting your child–educators, treatment providers, parents, the local education agency (LEA) representative and others,” White says. “Parents and guardians are an important part of that team. You are there to be an advocate for your child.”
It’s important for parents and guardians to ask the right questions before, during and after an IEP meeting. Here are some questions to help:
When is the IEP meeting, and how will I participate?
At least 10 days before the IEP meeting, you should receive a letter of invitation. RSVP for the meeting in writing. Inform the school if you will attend the meeting in person or by phone. If you are not available to attend the meeting at the proposed time, suggest alternative dates and times.
What documents will be discussed at the IEP meeting?
At least five business days before the IEP meeting, you should receive draft documents. These may include the IEP, a behavior intervention plan (BIP) or evaluations of your child. Review these documents carefully before the meeting.
Does this plan clearly address my child’s education and treatment needs?
Before the meeting, carefully review draft documents and write down your questions and notes. Review the diagnosis and examine the plan carefully to see how it addresses your child’s needs.
When will services be offered?
Make sure you understand start date(s), how long services are offered, and the procedures involved.
Is my child progressing toward a goal in the plan?
If your child is not progressing toward a goal as you had hoped, ask how this will be addressed, or if a goal should be revised.
What else can be done to assist my child?
If you think something else might help your child, come prepared to discuss it. Write down any proposed changes to the IEP and any information you would like to add.
Should anyone else attend?
Invite additional people to the IEP meeting if you think they can contribute. An IEP meeting takes a “team” approach to helping your child. Take the initiative to invite individuals who have relevant knowledge or expertise regarding your child.
How can I have a healthy working relationship with the IEP team?
Developing healthy and professional relationships with the school and treatment providers can help your child. Be open to discussing issues promptly, directly, honestly and courteously. Ask questions and listen carefully to answers. This will allow you to respond appropriately and avoid misunderstandings.
How can I support my child at home?
Ask what you can do at home to support and reinforce what your child is learning at school. Realize that home also needs to be a place of respite — a place to recover from the hard work that may have occurred at school.
With a little preparation, you can feel confident in making your child’s IEP meeting a great success.
The Episcopal Center for Children is a D.C. area non-profit school and treatment program for children ages 5-14 contending with emotional challenges.