Before we know it, our CASA Jefferson children and teens will be back in the classroom. Knowing this, and knowing that students in foster care face heightened educational challenges, how can CASA volunteers help set the children we serve up for success?
First, prepare yourself—put your educational advocate hat on! Brush up on the school system and how it works, the services the young person you’re advocating for is getting, and how to best advocate for their educational needs. Request a copy of your child's school records, review Individualized Education Plans (IEPs, 504 plans) and advocate for your child to be assessed.
Also, we have schoolbags and school supplies for your CASA child at our office. Please stop by the office to pick up a school bag and bring to your CASA child.
Whatever this new school year brings, we know there is no limit to what our CASA Jefferson children can accomplish with a caring, dedicated CA SA volunteer by their side. Thank you for everything you do to make a difference. ♥ Wendy Magee, Executive Director, CASA Jefferson, Inc.
How to Advocate for CASA children/teens With Special Needs
Learn All You Can About Your Child's Special Needs Information is power, and parents need to start with the facts about their child's special needs. Try and keep emotion out of it; parents need to have fact-based knowledge from their child's doctors, specialists, special education experts, parents of kids with similar special needs, attorneys, teachers, and anyone else who can provide information.
Ask Lots of Questions and Listen to Answers Become like a reporter: Ask questions like, "who, what, where, when, why and when" and then listen carefully to the answers you receive. Research relevant questions and then document responses instead of simply relying on your memory. Learn how to best ask questions and don't come across as antagonistic or defensive to get the best open and honest replies.
Be a Problem-Solver, Not a Problem-Maker Working together to solve problems with a child's teacher or childcare provider typically nets better results than becoming a problem maker. Propose solutions or create a possible plan that works best for child-parent-provider/teacher. Be open-minded and hear proposed solutions from the educational side as well.
Really Get to Know Your CASA’s Child Care Provider or Teacher Don't assume that childcare providers or teachers don't want to meet your child's unique needs and provide educational benefits. Most do. However, a wide range of need combined with limited resources often creates the potential for conflict between what reasonably can be provided vs. parents wanting what they believe is "best" for their kids. CASAs, foster parents and teachers should do everything possible to establish a positive, partnership-based learning approach and team together.
Everything You Need to Know About IDEA, IEPs, and 504 Plans
What Is an IEP? An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is guided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and provides special education and related services to a student who is identified as having a disability that negatively impacts her ability to receive academic instruction. A student who receives special education services is entitled to modification of curriculum, classroom accommodations, specialized instruction, and related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and/or counseling. A student with an IEP is re-evaluated every three years to determine continued eligibility. However, a parent can request a re-evaluation sooner than three years, but not less than one year. An IEP is also reviewed annually. What Does an IEP Include? A good IEP will include the following components: 1. Present Levels of Performance (PLP) This is a summary that describes current specific, measurable, objective baseline information for each area affected by the disability.
2. Goals: These are descriptions of what a student can reasonably be expected to accomplish within a 12-month period with the provision of special education services.
3. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): According to IDEA, IEPs should provide the greatest exposure to and interaction with general education students and persons without disabilities.
4. Assistive Technology (AT): Every IEP must consider technology programs, services, or devices that a student must have to be successful.
5. Description of Special Education Services: This indicates the time, frequency, and any related services that the student needs, as well as the amounts of time these services will be provided. The amount of time and areas in which the student will be removed from the general education setting are also identified.
What Is a 504 Plan? A 504 Accommodation Plan is guided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that a student with a disability has access to accommodations that improve academic functioning.
In order to qualify for a 504 Plan, a student must have a diagnosis for a physical or emotional disability, or impairment (e.g., ADHD) that restricts one or more major life activities (e.g., attention, class participation). 504 Accommodation Plan can also provide extended time or small group administration for statewide testing for your child. It can allow for accommodations like frequent breaks, fidgets, or modified homework assignments.
Who Qualifies for an IEP or a 504 Plan? IDEA regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education in 1999 make it clear that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) is included in the list of “other health impairments” that could render a child eligible for special education services in an IEP. However, not all children with ADHD qualify for an IEP. To qualify, the ADHD must adversely affect a child’s educational performance.
Section 504 is actually a civil rights law, designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal assistance from the Department of Education. A student is eligible as long he/she currently has or has had a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. Students who have ADHD may qualify if their ADHD “substantially limits” their ability to learn. Instead of having an IEP, students who qualify under Section 504 are required to have a plan that specifies any accommodations that will be made in the classroom. Accommodations for the ADHD student may include allowing extra time to complete assigned work or breaking long assignments into smaller parts.
How Can I Get an IEP or 504 Plan for My CASA Child? Contact your CASA child's teacher and set up a meeting.
To purchase tickets for the CASA JEFFERSON GALA visit www.casajefferson.org
AUGUST ADVOCATE BIRTHDAYS
Adriane Ali Ann Palmisano Chelsea Slattery Leslie Smith Rodreca Gant Shanna Johnson Susan Pleva Venessa Stemley
Our Mission is to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect through volunteers advocating for safe, nurturing, and permanent homes for foster children in our community.
Our Vision is to have volunteers recruited, trained, and assigned to every child in the foster care system in Jefferson Parish.
As of August 1, 2023, we have 49 children waiting for a volunteer to advocate for them. If you know anyone who would be interested in becoming a volunteer have them call our office (504 533-8757) or email Ms. Margaret at email@example.com