The Independent Child Advocate Program is a component of the Sonoma County SELPAs Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program. It is a resource available to parents and school districts when disagreements arise regarding the provision of special education services to a child with disabilities. The Independent Child Advocate is a neutral ombudsperson trained in ADR. The Advocate is assigned to difficult cases where relationships are at risk and communication is limited.
System Oversight, Infrastructure and Organization: 

System Design/Management

The ADR program involves everything from training parents and educators in effective communication and negotiation skills to conducting formal mediations known as Solutions Teams. The intent of this program is to maintain positive relationships between the student's family and the school as well as to save money for both parties.

Policy/Procedures

When a call for assistance is made, the program specialist will listen to the concerns and help identify key issues and interests. Information about special education laws and practices may be provided, if relevant, and a referral may be made to others who can appropriately work with the issues. If the Independent Child Advocate is determined to be the best option, the program specialist will have the Advocate contact the party directly.

Personnel

The Advocate is knowledgeable about special education law and programs.

Public Awareness & Outreach Activities: 

Availability/Accessing Services

When a call for assistance is left on the ADR Helpline (707) 524-2785, an ADR-trained SELPA program specialist will respond to the phone call within 48 hours (response time will be longer on weekends and holidays).

Materials/Activities:

Sonoma County SELPA Alternative Dispute Resolution Brochure

CA - ADR_Brochure_Spanish_2008.pdf

Evaluation & Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI): 

EVALUATION

 We have had a very strong success rate of preventing conflicts from going to fair hearing at the state level.

Program Contact

Kelly Brooks
Sonoma County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA)