CADRE's Guiding Principles of Collaborative Advocacy combines highly effective communication strategies, facilitative behaviors, interest-based problem solving skills, and most importantly, a collaborative approach to empowering students with disabilities, their families, and other advocates for the student to effectively navigate the IEP process. 

Navigating the world of special education is a challenge. Educators and parents of students with disabilities alike are charged with the responsibility of making educational decisions for students that will ultimately impact the trajectory of the student’s academic career, social emotional development, and future independent functioning. Understanding the complex system as a parent is difficult, and if done without support can be an overwhelming experience. Many parents rely on the support of a trusted friend or educational advocate to help them better understand the IEP process and the provisions outlined under the IDEA. Through close collaboration with State Education Agencies, Parent Centers, and the full range of stakeholders, CADRE has learned of the critical deficit of resources designed to promote the use of ethical and collaborative advocacy methods. This document is a response to this need.

In creating this document, CADRE received stakeholder feedback from represeantives across the country, including Parent Center staff, parents, advocates and SEA staff. CADRE is grateful to the following contributors:

Nissan Bar-Lev, Director of Special Education, CESA 7

Janice E. Breton, State Director of Special Services, Birth – 20, Maine Department of Education

Cindy Duch, Director of Parent Advising, PEAL Center 

Ysela Heim, Parent & Exceptional Student Consultant, Special Education Advocacy Services, LLC

Charmaine Thaner, Advocate, Collaborative Special Education Advocacy, LLC

Ann Turnbull, Retired Distinguished Professor of Special Education, University of Kansas

See CADRE's other resources related to collaboration and communication:

For Educators:  Working Together: Building Improved Communication and Engaging Parents in Productive Partnerships

For Parents:  Steps to Success: Communicating with Your Child's School and Educational Advocates: A Guide for Parents

For IEP Team Members:  Working Together Online Learning Series

Comments from the field:

As a Special Education Director of 38 school districts, I extend my deepest thanks for this new CADRE much, much needed project.

- Special Education Director

It actually makes me feel really proud because this is exactly how I personally work and wish all advocates would!

- Parent & Advocate

This is a great document and will be so supportive for parents navigating the decision of where to find support.

- Parent Center Director

You have identified a critical, unaddressed need, and your work in this area will fill a significant gap.

- Parent & Education Expert