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Advocating for Your Child

What is Advocacy?

You are an advocate when you educate and let others know of your support for, or recommendation of an idea or person. When advocacy is associated with early childhood education programs or within the education system, parents are often viewed as advocates for their child or children.

Parents are often the best educational advocates for their children. Advocacy is a skill that can be developed to help your child access services and programs that can be vital to their learning and development.

"Planning for the future is like a roadmap. When you have a plan, you know where you are, where you need to go and how to know when you arrive"

 

- Wrightslaw

Where to Start

Learn and Educate Yourself
You cannot begin to advocate until you know about your child’s special needs.

  • Learn as much as you can about your child’s diagnosis
  • Investigate services, programs, support groups and conferences within your community and surrounding areas
  • Gather facts and information pertaining to a given situation

Learn the Rules and Know Your Rights
Professionals want to provide the best service to your children but with limited resources this can sometimes be a challenge.

  • Understand and become familiar with various early childhood education programs and what each program offers
  • Investigate your local and private school programs and policies
  • Familiarize yourself with the “special education act” in your province
  • Understand your child’s legal rights and become familiar with the Human Rights Code of Ontario
  • Get to know the people who make decisions about your child’s education
  • Become acquainted with the terminology professionals’ use within the organization

Keep Written Documents
Documents are often the key to success

  • Ensure reports and meeting notes are provided to you after case conferences, consultations, etc.
  • Make requests and follow up in writing to ensure you have documentation. Remember to note dates on requests, events, discussions and meetings.
  • Use a notebook or have a contact list to record names of professionals, job titles, agency and phone numbers (ask for business cards)
  • Keep files of your child’s information and ensure they are organized. Sort files in a manner that works for you so you can access them quickly. Being organized in the beginning will save you time in the future and may alleviate unnecessary stress.

Ask Questions and Listen to Answers
Asking and listening is a way to create a dialogue regarding your child’s learning and care

To ensure you get the most detailed answers to your questions remember the 5 W’s + H + E
(who, what, why, where and when, how and explain)

Be sure to make detailed notes regarding the answers – this can help with identifying future challenges and possible solutions.

"Children are like snowflakes - No two are alike"

- Unknown

Become a Problem Solver and a Planner
Your road to success

  • Work closely with all team members to ensure positive outcomes
  • Propose solutions, create possible plans and be open minded – create a “Win Win” situation for everyone involved
  • Think ahead – as your child grows and achieves success, continue to establish new goals along with strategies to achieve them

Advocacy Websites

www.peelregion.ca

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