Participants in this session will learn about the valuable role that parent advocacy plays in supporting early special education dispute resolution in Utah and the mechanisms in place to support this. A collaborative approach to providing assistance to parents in the IEP process has resulted in several resources available statewide. The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) funds several independent parent advocates who provide support and services to families, including a contract with the Utah Parent Center (UPC), the state federally funded Parent Training and Information Center for over 33 years. Presenters will give concrete replicable examples of how these parent advocacy efforts promote early conflict resolution and support families, including those from diverse backgrounds, through navigating the special education process, advocating for meeting the needs of their student, and promoting positive outcomes. Presenters will share how their organizations laid the groundwork for gaining LEA support for parent advocacy, how funding was secured to support early efforts, and how successful outcomes in LEA early adopters helped to promote the growth of the parent consultant model. Presenters will discuss how parent advocates work to empower parents to develop the knowledge, confidence, and skills they need to independently and effectively self-advocate for their students moving forward. An important outcome is that the quality of parent involvement in the IEP process is enhanced, resulting in improved IEP team working relationships and student-focused IEP team decisions without the need for a parent advocate.

Symposium: 
Restoring Focus on the Child: CADRE’s Seventh National Symposium
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