Published: August 2, 2016
Walking into an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting can be overwhelming for some parents who are anxious to make sure they set up the best educational experience for their child with a disability and understand their child’s rights. They often need someone who can be the coach in their corner and the advocate who helps them get the services and supports their child needs. Our new Kentucky Volunteer Advocacy Project (VAP) offers a solution by training families, caregivers, educators and community members to advocate for students with disabilities and make sure their educational needs are being met.
This program is the newest recipient of HDI’s Fund for Excellence and will launch this fall. VAP graduates will receive a certificate of completion and may go on to become paid or volunteer advocates for others, or to use it for the benefit of their own families. Click here for more information and register here.
As a collaborative effort from the Human Development Institute (HDI) and Build Inclusion, the program will be facilitated by Meada Hall, Ed.D., and Annette Jett, MBA, and will feature qualified speakers and volunteers from the DD Network, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), and other advocacy networks. Adapted from the program that originated at the Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center, VAP provides an accurate and extensive understanding of the IEP process so that positive change will take place within the educational experiences of students with disabilities. The 36-hour training takes place on Saturdays, beginning on September 10, from 8:30-11:30am at the HDI Coldstream Training Facility.
“I was really nervous going into my first IEP meeting when my son with Down syndrome started Kindergarten, and it made all the difference in the world to have my friend and volunteer advocate Kathy at my side to confirm my understanding of the law that my son was entitled to be in the least restrictive environment and to advise me to observe all the proposed placement settings before committing. I don’t think we would have succeeded in placing him in an inclusive setting without Kathy’s guidance. Advocates looking out for the needs of the family can make a tremendous difference, and Kathy and I now support each other at IEP meetings every year.” Stephanie Meredith, Andy’s Mom
Participants will pay a nominal registration fee of $99 for workshop materials and access to an on-line learning portal. Full and partial scholarships are available. A main component to participation is the commitment to assist four families in need once the VAP training is completed.
“This is a one of a kind program in which advocates and self-advocates can gain in-depth knowledge of the IEP process. This will lead to better post-school outcomes in the areas of competitive, integrated employment, post-secondary education and independent living. This results in a better quality of life thereby meeting the goals for both HDI and Build Inclusion.” Meada Hall