Once the evaluation is completed, many foster parents are uncertain as to what should happen next. The evaluation team will determine if your foster child meets the definition of a child with a disability as determined from the IDEA and from the policies your state or district uses. If so, your child will be eligible for special education and related services. In most states, the caseworkers and the kinship parents have the right to receive a copy of the evaluation report. If the group decides that your kinship child is not eligible for special education services, the school system must tell you this in writing and explain why your child has been found “not eligible.” Make certain that you know what policies the school district has for rebuttal to a contested decision for receiving special education.
Developing an Individualized Education Plan
If your child is found eligible for special services, the next step is to develop an Individualized Education Plan to address the child’s basic disabilities. Once eligibility is established, a meeting must be held within 30 days to develop the IEP, which is a written program statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP. The IEP will: (1) set learning goals for your child; and (2) state the services that the school district will pro- vide for the child. Please bear in mind, that it is important that children with disabilities participate in the general curriculum as much as possible. In addition, participation in the mainstream extracurricular activities and other nonacademic activities is also impor- tant. Your child’s IEP needs to be written with this in mind.
A child’s IEP will contain:
1. Present levels of achievement and educational performance. This statement describes how your child is currently doing in school. This includes how your child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general curriculum.
2. The IEP must state annual goals for your child. Annual goals reflect what the team thinks he or she can reasonably accomplish in a year.
3. The IEP must also list the special education and related services to be provided to your child. Related services can include, but are not limited to transportation, speech-lan- guage pathology, audiology services, psychological services, physical therapy, occupa- tional therapy, early identification and assessment, counseling services, orientation and mobility services, medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes, school health services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training.
4. The IEP must also define how much of the school day the child will be educated sepa- rately from nondisabled children or not participate in extracurricular or other nonacade- mic activities such as lunch or other activities.
5. The IEP should also address testing modifications or changes in how the tests are administered.
6. In addition, the IEP must state (a) when services and modifications will begin; (b) how often they will be provided; (c) where they will be provided; and (d) how long they will last.