Access to the facilitation process is clearly communicated and not burdensome for intended audiences. How a program is accessed may depend upon the program structure (i.e., local, regional, SEA, or through a contracted program provider). There are a variety ways for people to find their way to facilitation. Some examples include a direct line to the Intake Coordinator, contacting through email, and use of an online form accessed through a dedicated webpage. Regardless of how a person finds the facilitation, access to the program must be free (such as a toll free number) and consideration must be made for parents who may not have access to the Internet. Finding contact information on the agency’s website must be intuitive and clear, and any forms used must be ADA accessible.

The first contact to the facilitation program must have strong listening skills and be able to identify cases appropriate for facilitation. It is important that the intake person is familiar and able to answer general questions about all dispute resolution processes. Facilitation must be explained as a voluntary process and realistic expectations should be communicated. Finally, data collection and tracking begins at the intake process.

Critical Considerations

Thinking through how parties will come to request facilitation is important. Questions to help guide how your program will be accessed include:

  • Who can complete a request?
  • How will requests be made?
  • Who has to agree to having a facilitator present?
  • What will the intake process look like?
  • How will facilitators be assigned?  
  • Will assignments be rotational, geographical, or SEA/agency choice?
  • What data/information will you require or ask for during the intake process?
  • Can the data entry system pre-populate any other collection points to reduce the data collection burden? 
Lessons Learned
  • Timeliness matters. Ensure that the intake process, whether an initial phone call or online submission, is handled quickly and follow up is managed expediently.
  • Don’t make promises that facilitators cannot keep. While facilitators can work to improve the process and aid in establishing a place where difficult conversations can be held in a productive manner, not all facilitated meetings end in team agreement.
  • Establish the decision maker at the LEA, such as the Special Education Director, who will approve all facilitations.  In larger LEAs, this may be the area supervisor. Generally it is recommended to have facilitation approved at the district, not the building, level.
  • It is important to frame facilitation as an option with many benefits, but not dissuade a parent from accessing their rights to other dispute resolution processes available under the IDEA procedural safeguards.