CADRE developed the FAQ section of the For Families page in order to direct families of children and youth with disabilities to CADRE’s most valued parent and family-centered resources. The questions are organized in four sections; 1) Establishing Positive Relationships; 2) Support for the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Process; 3) Managing Disagreement and Dispute Resolution; and 4) Additional Assistance and Information.

Establishing Positive Relationships

What can I do to build a positive relationship with my child’s teachers?

CADRE developed an online learning series for both families and educators. The series contains five courses. While each course covers valuable information, IEP Meetings and Beyond (Course 2), addresses behaviors and strategies to create better home-school partnerships. Listening and Responding (Course 3) also has tools to maximize communication.

Working Together Series

Families find the publication Steps to Success: Communicating with Your Child's School a valuable tool for improving relationships with educators. This document offers specific communication skills to help parents as they develop and maintain partnerships with their child's school.

Steps to Success

How can I communicate with my child’s school?

Families find the publication Steps to Success: Communicating with Your Child's School a valuable tool for improving relationships with educators. This document offers specific communication skills that help parents as they develop and maintain partnerships with their child's school.

Steps to Success

CADRE has a video available to both educators and families that demonstrates different communication skills and the impact those skills have on the outcome of a conversation. The two-part video highlights behaviors that make communicating more challenging, as well as effective skills that encourage productive communication.

A Tale of Two Conversations

CADRE developed an online learning series for both families and educators. The series contains five courses. While each course covers valuable information, Listening and Responding (Course 3), has information you can use to improve communication between you and your child’s school.

Working Together Series

Support for the IEP Process

How can I help my child understand his/her/their disability and IEP ?

CADRE has a free online learning series designed to support students in learning about their disability and advocating for themselves. The Your Journey to Self-determination Series (for youth) includes six interactive courses. These courses are an introduction to the concepts and skills students need to engage in their educational planning. Although the courses and lessons are self-directed, they are intended to compliment other activities, discussions, and practice opportunities necessary for students to develop self-advocacy skills. A facilitator guide with supplemental activities and resources is available to assist teachers, parents or guardians, and mentors in furthering student learning.

Your Journey to Self-Determination

Where can I learn more about preparing for an IEP meeting?

There are a number of things you can do to feel more prepared to participate in your child’s IEP meeting. You can begin with reviewing CADRE’s Working Together Series. CADRE developed this online learning series for both families and educators. The series contains five courses. While each course covers valuable information, IEP Meetings and Beyond (Course 2) addresses what you can do before, during and after an IEP meeting to be sure you are able to participate fully in the process.

If you need additional information and support, you may want to contact your local parent center. See Question 10 to locate your parent center’s contact information.

Working Together Series

Managing Disagreement and Understanding Dispute Resolution Options

What can I do if I do not agree with the decision made at my child’s IEP meeting?

CADRE encourages resolving concerns at the local level whenever possible. Initial steps for resolving a disagreement may be setting up a conference with your child’s school staff to discuss your concerns, or speaking with an administrator within your district. You may also consider reaching out to your local parent center to get additional support (See Question 10 for more information).

If you have tried resolving your concerns with your school and district but are still not in agreement, you may want to consider accessing one of your dispute resolution options. CADRE developed parent guides on each of the dispute resolution options available under IDEA, as well as a guide on IEP Facilitation (not IDEA required but may be available in your state). There is also a chart that lists each process on a table in order to compare the options against each other and help you decide which option may be the best given your specific concerns.

Parent Guides and Companion Videos
Comparison Chart

Are there any trainings for parents about communication and conflict resolution?

CADRE developed a series of free, online learning courses for both families and educators. The series contains five courses with a number of strategies for working together and through conflict:

Course 1: Introduction to the Working Together Series
Course 2: IEP Meetings and Beyond
Course 3: Listening and Responding Skills
Course 4: Managing and Responding to Emotions
Course 5: Focusing on Interests to Reach Agreement

Working Together Series

CADRE also hosts a webinar series with a variety of topics that may be of interest to you. Click here for a link to some of our most popular webinars for families. Click here for the full webinar archive.

I want to file a complaint but do not know how?

If you have tried resolving your concerns with your school and district but are still not in agreement, you may want to consider accessing one of your dispute resolution options. CADRE developed parent guides on each of the dispute resolution options available under IDEA as well as a guide on IEP Facilitation (not IDEA required but may be available in your state) for families of children in the early intervention system (birth to 3) and parents with students in special education programs (3-21). CADRE also recently published companion videos for the IDEA Special Education Parent Guides (3-21). Be sure to check with your state education agency to learn about the range of dispute resolution options available in your state.

State Education Agency Database
Parent Guides and Companion Videos (3 to 21)
Family Guides (Birth to 3)

Do you have information on hiring an advocate or attorney?

Navigating the special education system is challenging and many parents rely on family friends, advocates, or attorneys for support. While many families can find the support they need from their local parent center, others may choose to hire an advocate or attorney. CADRE does not keep a list of advocates or attorneys, but we do have some resources for families looking to hire an advocate or support person.

The Guiding Principles of Collaborative Advocacy provides a framework that CADRE believes will lead to problem solving that places an emphasis on the child’s needs and maintaining a positive relationship between families and educators.

Guiding Principles

CADRE also developed Educational Advocates, A Guide for Parents as a tool to support parents as they look to hire an advocate.

Although it may be challenging to find free or low cost special education legal services, your State Education Agency can supply you with a list.

Additional Assistance and Information

Do you have resources available in languages other than English?

A number of CADRE resources are available in a variety of languages, with some of our most popular print resources available in 13 languages.

Parent Guides (3 to 21)
Family Guides (Birth to 3): multiple languages coming soon
Steps to Success

CADRE also has a separate page of resources in Spanish. Click here to view the En Español page.

Who can I contact if I need more help resolving concerns about my child’s education?

CADRE encourages resolving concerns at the local level whenever possible. With that in mind, there are times when additional support may be needed. Please click the link below to find your local parent center and state education agency representative.

State Education Agency Database
Parent Center Database

How can I stay up-to-date on information about special education dispute resolution?

Sign up for the CADRE Caucus, our bi-monthly newsletter and stay up-to-date on activity at the Center and new or helpful information about Dispute Resolution.