Module 1: Becoming an Advocate

For this assignment I spoke with two Special Education Professionals that come in each week to work with our children who have IEP’s. These women are very knowledgeable and are always willing to answer my questions about these children, as well as concerns I may have about any other children in our classroom. They agreed there is a need in my area of interest because when necessary services are not allowed, the children are being denied the process of learning and the gaining of social-emotional skills that are vital for their later education. The Maryland Association for the Education of Young Children is a local source of advocacy information which I plan to assess during this project. (http://www.mdaeyc.org/)

One thing I was not aware of until expressing my idea and concerns during the interview was that after a child reaches Kindergarten they will receive the services they need. At that point, if a parent is not in favor of this, there is a legal process they must go through. This made me feel a bit better. So, now I will find out more about the possibility of mandatory Pre-Kindergarten.

Currently, parents may refuse recommended assessment, evaluation and intervention services offered through Child Find (Infants & Toddlers and Preschool). At present, my thinking is that this equates with neglect, but have been told by an Officer of the Child Protective Services that it is not. The initial idea for my area of focus is to fully investigate and hopefully affect change in this area on the behalf of these youngest students. To help me gain as much information as possible, three related topics of study will be:

  1. The findings of early brain development research in relation to the importance of early intervention.
  2. Why the current law (IDEA 2004) was developed to grant this particular right to parents.
  3. The feasibility of mandatory Pre-Kindergarten, and what effect this would have on the law.

In order to increase my understanding of this area of interest I am looking for receiving input from others by:

  1. Classmates sharing their thoughts and experiences on the issue through this Blog.
  2. Continued dialogue with colleagues and other professionals on the many related topics of this issue.
  3. Gaining the parents perspective through interviews with current parents, someone who has experience in this area, and hopefully a parent who has refused services for their child.

9 thoughts on “Module 1: Becoming an Advocate

  1. Geraldine,

    In all my experience, over 18 years, of working with young children I have never had parents just flat out refuse to find ways to support their child. I find it interesting that you considered if this could be a finding of neglect; I had never thought of that. I would think that if certain aspects were not met by the parent why this could not be the case. I do know if medical needs are not met that there could be a finding. I question that if by not meeting their developmental needs why would that be any different then. I know this would definitely have to be viewed upon each individual case! You definitely got my brain turning tonight.

  2. Geraldine: Hello to you in Maryland. I am in Florida. Nice to blog to you! I am interested to find out if you are in a school age program or in a preschool. Are the students with the IEPs school age or preschool? Do you find that some children are getting services and some not getting them? What differenciates that?

    Florida has a voluntary free pre-k program and I think it is doing well. The free part of the program is ony a limited number of hours and if further care is needed it must be paid for by the parents. Looking at the the board of education website for Florida may be a useful resource for your research.

    Your topics are interesting but I am not so sure how to make them related in a research paper. I think you need to choose one main topic and under that topic glean out three sub-topics that are related to it.

    Best of luck!

    • Hi Diane. Thank you for your comment. I work at Head Start. Within the first 45 days of school each child has a screening for speech and language. If they do not pass the test one option is to re-screen in the spring, or if there is a great concern, they will be referred to Child Find. I believe CF can screen the child without parent permission, but can not do a full evaluation without it. I have had a child whose parent would not agree to the evaluation.
      I do think my main topic is going to be how to get all children the services they need. The three subtopics will be used to support my concerns by demonstrating:
      1. The fact that early intervention makes a difference. All the brain development research I have learned about during my courses proves that the most crucial time for positive brain development is from conception to before age 5. I want to be able to speak knowledgeably on this and have current facts.
      2. The reasoning as to why IDEA 2004 included the right to refuse services to children covered by parts B and C.
      3. And if the law can’t be changed, if and when will public pre-K be mandatory? In talking to others, one person did say if pre-K was mandatory like K, then there might be a process for refusal of services.
      I want to find out about these topics to find out if my concerns are valid and if change is possible.

  3. You blog, interest’s me also because I work in School Age after school. I see some kids in first grade who seem to need services but nothing happens. I am trying to learn more about this process and what happens when a child goes from Head Start to Kindergarten. Is Child Find a referral service for children in pre-school, is it affiliated with Head Start?

    • Hi Rita.
      Child Find is a federally mandated program under IDEA 2004 to identify children with special needs aged 3-21. It’s counterpart is Infants and Toddlers for ages birth – 2 (http://idea.ed.gov/). In my county it is managed through the public schools. I thought all states had to have this type of agency, although they may be called something different. This particular regulation is Section 300.111 if you want to read more about it.
      When our Head Start children are going on to Kindergarten, there is a transition process if they are going to continue to need services. Last year we had a boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Kindergarten teachers came to see him at our school. Once he was there, the services are provided at the new school. Hope this helps some.

  4. Hi there! I am very interested in your topic as I am advocating for early intervention services for those with dyslexia. I wonder sometimes about the whole process with younger children. It seems that more services are recommended for younger children when they have more obvious developmental needs than if they have academic deficiencies. I have had some school psychologists say that the child is just developmentally immature and that they will catch up to themselves in later grades. Unfortunately, it does not happen and the child is that much further behind. What do you think about that? Hi there! I am very interested in your topic as I am advocating for early intervention services for those with dyslexia. I wonder sometimes about the whole process with younger children. It seems that more services are recommended for younger children when they have more obvious developmental needs than if they have academic deficiencies. I have had some school psychologists say that the child is just developmentally immature and that they will catch up to themselves in later grades. Unfortunately, it does not happen
    As far as the topic of Pre-Mandatory Kindergarten, I am not sure what I think about that. Sometimes I think that we push the kids too hard to jump right into school and learning when they could be playing. I suppose since so many parents are working and the children spend all day in daycare, maybe it is better for them to be in a learning environment anyway. Do you agree with that? Do you agree that there should be mandatory Pre-Kindergarten for all children? Why or why not? I have conflicted feelings on it.

    • Hi Stacy. I hope through this project to find out what I think about mandatory pre-K! As a Head Start teacher, there are a few children in the classroom that also go to the public pre-K. Once a parent said her child seems to be doing more with us, but with us, although they are learning, they think they are playing all day. That’s a win-win, isn’t it?
      As far as children and developmental delays, I have seen both sides. A child might struggle their first year with us, even though they are close to being four, then the next year just take off. They were just not ready last year, but because of being a year older are able to do so now. On the other side, a child receiving services may seem to be making little progress sometimes. There are so many variables involved on this question, and that is why I plan to do lots of research. Thanks for your comment.

  5. I agree with you that this is an area of concern in the early childhood field. There are so many children that could benefit from services earlier than kindergarten but usually they are very expensive and sometimes the parents are in denial about their child. I was aware that the children received services once the child reaches kindergarten but was not aware that there was a legal process if the parents were not in favor of this. I really think that your three topics are great and I agree with you that they are in need of some research. There are so many children that are going to get lost in the shuffle if something is not done.

  6. I see we are thinking about advocating for almost the same subject. I am interesting the young children from zero to three Eraly Intervention. I know I can also gain much information from you.

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