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Adopting a Child While Living Overseas
School is right around the corner and with that comes the need for parents to step up their advocacy for their child in the classroom. Dr. Julian Davies of the Center for Adoption Medicine shares these useful tips for looking out for your child's best interest in school.
At our recent adoption and foster care conference, Raising Resilient Rascals … Takes Flight, we had a panel discussion that was so full of useful tips that I couldn't resist sharing them here. Thanks so much to our panelists: Julia Bledsoe, , Lisa Konick-Seese, Larry Davis (of Special Education Advocacy), Gwen Lewis and Kate Molendijk. Some of their "pearls" follow, but first, some basics:
For children under three with developmental concerns, parents can (and should) call their local Early Intervention (also know as "Birth-to-3", or "ITEP") Center. You don't need a referral to start the process. They should do any necessary screening tests, and if your child falls below a certain threshold, they will qualify for subsidized developmental therapies. Increasingly, the center's therapists will meet the child at their home or child care center to provide these services. Find out more here.
For children over 3, your local school district is responsible for developmental screening and providing supports, even if your child isn't in school yet, or is home-schooled, or attends private school. In the latter cases, accessing those supports may not be easy or convenient, but it should be possible. Contact your school district's "Child Find" office to initiate this process.
IEPs and 504 Plans
If your child has a documented disability, which has an impact on your child's education, then your child should be eligible for either 504 Plan accommodations, or an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).
Generally speaking, if tweaks to general education are deemed adequate to meet your child's needs, a 504 plan will be suggested. One drawback to 504 plans is that the school is not so accountable, oversight being at the federal level.
If your child needs more significant "specially designed instruction," then they should receive an IEP. With an IEP, the school is more accountable (oversight tighter, at the state level).
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