Special Needs Financial Planning Workshop

ADVOCATES FOR ANGELS PRESENTS:

  “Your Dependent with Special Needs

Making Your Loved One’s Future More Secure”

 Please join us as Victor Ernst and Karin Metcalf (Certified Special Needs Planner)

present on:

 Helping Families Secure Lifetime Care &

Quality of Life for Dependents with Special Needs 

Topics and Issues to be Addressed:

• Government Benefit Eligibility for SSI and Medicaid

• Guardianship and Conservatorship, Client Self-determination and Advocacy Issues

• Financial Security, Funding Options and Life Insurance

Established in 1998 the MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning extends MetLife’s traditional commitment of public service to families with children of any age, from infant to senior, who have a disability. The Center is committed to helping families through the maze of legal and financial complexities surrounding planning for the future of dependents with special needs. Through a dedicated network of Special Needs Planners, the Center helps families secure both lifetime care and quality of life for their dependents with special needs.

Date: April 9, 2013

Location:  Peppermint Ridge

825 Magnolia, Corona

Time: 6:30 (Refreshments) 7:00 – 9:00 (Presentation)

 Please RSVP to Valerie Aprahamian

  (909)841-2600

vasped@sbcglobal.net

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FETA (From Emotions To Advocacy) April Meeting!

ADVOCATES FOR ANGELS PRESENTS:  

 “Your Dependent with Special Needs

Making Your Loved One’s Future More Secure”

Please join us as Victor Ernst and Karin Metcalf (Certified Special Needs Planner)

present on:

Helping Families Secure Lifetime Care &

Quality of Life for Dependents with Special Needs 

Topics and Issues to be Addressed:

• Government Benefit Eligibility for SSI and Medicaid

• Guardianship and Conservatorship, Client Self-determination and Advocacy Issues

• Financial Security, Funding Options and Life Insurance

Established in 1998 the MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning extends MetLife’s traditional commitment of public service to families with children of any age, from infant to senior, who have a disability. The Center is committed to helping families through the maze of legal and financial complexities surrounding planning for the future of dependents with special needs. Through a dedicated network of Special Needs Planners, the Center helps families secure both lifetime care and quality of life for their dependents with special needs.

 Date: April 9, 2013

Location:  Peppermint Ridge

825 Magnolia, Corona

Time: 6:30 (Refreshments) 7:00 – 9:00 (Presentation)

Please RSVP to Valerie Aprahamian

 (909)841-2600

vasped@sbcglobal.net

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Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Over the past 15 years, Valerie Aprahamian has reviewed more than 1,000 IEP’s and she uses that knowledge to help families overcome the obstacles that special needs children and families encounter.

Contact Advocates for Angels, special education advocates so we can discuss your circumstances, explain your rights and set you and your family in the right direction.

Inland Empire and Orange County IEP meetings

The IEP process can be confusing, frustrating and overwhelming. Parents may not be aware of their child’s right to a free, appropriate public education. It can be invaluable to have one of our knowledgeable advocates by your side, advocating for the well-being of your child.

The individualized education program (IEP) document ideally is developed as a collaborative and cooperative effort between parents and school personnel, describing a child’s abilities and needs and prescribing the placement and services designed to meet those unique needs. Under IDEA, parents are given equal power as any other district staff member as an essential IEP team member but most parents are often not aware of this right.  As a parent of 2 special needs children, Valerie Aprahamian works effortlessly to ensure that your parental rights are observed and believes that the most important component of her services is to teach you how to be the best advocate for your child.

Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court noted that the central vehicle for this collaboration is the IEP process. The IEP is the cornerstone of the IDEA that sets forth the free appropriate public education that is offered to a child with a disability eligible to receive special education and related services under Part B of the IDEA.

The state must make a free appropriate public education (FAPE) available to all resident children between the ages of 3 and 22, including children with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled from school.

A. Who attends the IEP meeting?

  • The parent(s) or holder of educational rights
  • A regular education teacher if the child is or may be participating at all in regular education
  • A special education teacher, where appropriate, at least one special education provider of the child
  • An educational agency representative who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities, is knowledgeable about the general curriculum and about the availability of resources of the school district
  • The individuals who conducted the assessments or individuals who are qualified to interpret the results of the assessments
  • Other individuals at the discretion of the parents or school district who have knowledge or special expertise regarding your child
  • Your child when appropriate

Additionally, this would apply to any outside agency personnel from whom the child receives services, such as a regional center.

B. Parent Input

Parents are active participants in the IEP process. If a school district infringes on a parent’s rights to participate in the IEP process, it usually results in the denial of FAPE to the student with a disability, even if the IEP offers an appropriate education as a substantive matter. If those violations interfere with a parent’s right to participate in the IEP formulation process, they are likely serious IDEA violations that deny FAPE.

C. Report Cards and Grades

While good grades can be evidence of a child benefiting from his education, they do not, as a matter of law, conclude that a school district provided FAPE. In fact, the 2006 IDEA Part B regulations expressly caution that: “Each State must ensure that FAPE is available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade.

D. Tape record all IEP meetings-In CA, Parents have the right to tape record IEP meetings. Parents must notify the school district 24 hours prior to the IEP meeting, IN WRITING, of their intent to record.

NOTE: It is extremely important to record all IEP meetings. Much too often, school districts write one-sided meeting notes on the IEP. A recording of the IEP is the best evidence to show what was discussed at the meeting.  In addition, district staff will be more willing to conduct the IEP meeting according to IDEA regulations if the meeting is tape recorded. 

E. Mandatory components of the IEP

A statement of the child’s present levels of educational performance including:

  • How the child’s disability affects his/her involvement and progress in the general curriculum
  • For preschoolers, how the disability affects the child’s participation in appropriate activities
  • IDEA 2004 requires that the statement include present levels in academic achievement and functional performance.

A statement of measurable annual goals, including short term objectives that will:

  • Meet a child’s needs to enable him or her to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum
  • Meet all the child’s academic and functional needs that result from his/her disability.

Example: A goal in the area of reading decoding:

Inappropriate goal: The student will improve reading.

Appropriate goal: The Student will decode words at the fifth grade level, in isolation, of 3-4 syllables with 90 percent accuracy as measured by teacher charted records.

For children who are taking the regular state assessment of academic achievement, annual goals are still required, but short-term objectives are not. For children taking alternative assessment of achievement, both the goals and objectives are required.

3. A statement of special education and related services, and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will enable the child:

  • To advance appropriately toward attaining annual goals
  • To be involved in the general curriculum as well as extracurricular and nonacademic activities
  • To be educated and participate with non-disabled children in these activities.

4. An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with non-disabled children in the regular class and other activities, including:

  • Statement and supporting evidence that indicates why the student’s disability prevents him/her from being educated in a less restrictive environment with the use of supplementary aids and services

5. A statement of any modifications or accommodations necessary so that the child may participate in student achievement tests. If such tests are not appropriate for the child, an explanation why not and how the child will be assessed

6. The date services, modifications and accommodations will begin and the frequency during the school day, location and duration of these services and modifications

7. Special education and related services and supplementary aids must be based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable. The Education Department explained that peer-reviewed research refers to “research that is reviewed by qualified and independent reviewers to ensure that the quality of the information meets the standards of the field before the research is published.” It added that reducing the term to a single definition is difficult because the review process varies depending on the type of information to be reviewed.

8. Extended school year services (or services during the time school is not in session)

9. For students 14 years old, a statement of the transition services needs

10. For students who are 16 years old, a statement of the required transition services. Transition services at the child’s sixteenth birthday to include appropriate measurable post secondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills. The services to be identified include courses of study needed to assist the child to reach the transition goals.

11. One year before a student turns 18, a statement explaining that the student has been informed of his/her educational rights and they will transfer to the student at age of eighteen.

Other important components of the IEP:

  • The concerns of parents and strengths of child
  • All evaluation results, including independent assessments
  • If behavior impedes learning, the IEP team must consider strategies, including positive behavioral interventions
  • If a child is Limited English Proficient, include linguistically appropriate goals, objectives, programs and services
  • Braille instructions if appropriate for visually impaired students
  • Deaf or hard of hearing students, consider student’s language and communication needs
  • Assistive technology considerations.

F. Signing and Writing on the IEP document

Signing the IEP

At the end of the IEP, the school district will ask you to sign the document. You don’t have to sign it at the meeting. Think about what the district has offered. You can ask for a break or even take it home and return it another day. Of course, if you agree with the entire IEP, it is always best to sign it if you want the entire program to begin immediately.

Before you sign, however, ask to read the entire document (including the IEP notes) and make sure everything agreed upon is documented accurately. You can also agree on certain parts, but not others (e.g. you agree on related services, but not placement – sign the document and state that you agree with the services but not placement). If you disagree with parts of the IEP, spell out your disagreements on the parent dissent page.

Writing on the IEP

Make sure that you know what statements are entered onto the IEP document and state any objections immediately. This is especially important on the IEP notes. Every IEP has a page where someone on the school staff is writing down notes during the IEP meeting. If you disagree on a particular issue, make sure your objections are accurately documented in the IEP notes. If the note taker does not write down your position, then request a separate page. Label this page “parent dissent” and record your point of view and ask that it is attached to the IEP.

You have an absolute right to state your position, but if the school district does not attach your dissent, indicate the following on the signature page: 1) that you do not agree with everything in the IEP document, and 2) that you want to attach a dissent but the school administration would not allow you to do so. Then file a complaint with the California Department of Education on the basis that the school district failed to allow you to participate in the IEP process.

The advocates at Advocates for Angels and Valerie Aprahamian will provide the most effective and efficient advocacy assistance with the goal of improving the lives of your special needs child.

 

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Least Restrictive Environment

California-Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.)  

Least Restrictive Environment

Education for all students with disabilities is determined by assessing their unique needs on an individual basis and meeting those needs in the least restrictive environment.

Inclusion in the regular classroom setting can be the best choice, but the school system many deny your child’s legal right to attend public school. When this happens, the advocates at Advocates for Angels can evaluate your circumstances and the available services to determine an effective strategy to get your child the free, appropriate public education he or she is entitled to.

The IDEA mandates that a child must be given a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This means a child with disabilities should be educated with children who are non-disabled as much as possible. A child should not be taken out of the regular education classroom unless the disability is so severe that, even with all services and supports available under IDEA, he or she cannot learn in the regular classroom.

Although there are no general formulas on deciding what a child’s LRE would be, federal courts have defined several factors to be used as general guidelines to consider when making placement decisions. The first is to compare the benefits a child with disabilities will receive in the regular classroom, with supports and services, and the benefits the child will receive in a more restrictive setting. The IEP team should also consider the non-academic benefits of interaction with children who do not have disabilities such as socialization and modeling appropriate behaviors.

Even if a child with a disability cannot be placed in the regular classroom full time – the school must make sure that he or she is mainstreamed as much as possible. This includes extracurricular activities such as field trips, school assemblies, lunchtimes, and physical education.

As with all elements of a child’s education, the IEP team makes the decision to place a child. This decision must be made giving great weight to a child’s LRE. Each decision should be made on an individual basis and takes into consideration the unique needs of the child.

Contact Advocates for Angels so you can discuss your circumstances with Valerie Aprahamian so she explain your rights and set you and your family in the right direction.  Valerie has extensive experience in successfully placing children in an inclusive educational program.  As an inclusion advocate, she strongly believes that every child has the civil right to be educated alongside their typical developing peers.  

We provide effective and efficient advocacy assistance with the goal of improving the lives of the children we represent.

 

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Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)

California Special Education Assessments

Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)

A parent has the right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at district expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the public agency. If a parent requests an IEE at district expense, the district must, without unnecessary delay, either file a due process complaint to request a hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate or ensure that an IEE is provided at district expense.

If the school district files a due process complaint to request a hearing and the final decision is that the agency’s evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an IEE, but only at personal, and not district expense. If a parent requests an IEE, the public agency may ask for the parent’s reason for objecting to the public evaluation. However, the public agency may not require the parent to provide an explanation and may not unreasonably delay either providing the IEE at public expense or filing a due process complaint to request a due process hearing to defend the public evaluation.

Essentially, when a parent requests an IEE, a school district has two options: (1) Grant the IEE, choose an assessor with the parent, and pay for it; or (2) Take the parent to due process to defend the district’s own assessment. The district can request an explanation from the parent as to why they disagree with the district’s assessment, but the parent is not required by law to provide such an explanation, and a school district cannot make the provision of an IEE depend on the parent providing an explanation.

The elements that constitute an inappropriate assessment are very child-specific, and can be extremely difficult to know. In the development of your child’s educational program, the assessment is the foundation which goals and supports and services are built upon. Advocates for Angels have extensive experience with reviewing assessments, and are specifically trained in testing measures used by school districts and private assessors. A review of your child’s cumulative school file will show the advocate your child’s apparent needs, and also allow the advocate to review any and all assessments of your child to determine whether or not your child may be entitled to an IEE at district expense.

Your first step in meeting the needs of your child is to secure an accurate and complete assessment.  Don’t delay in making the decision to get the help you need to receive an appropriate educational program for your child.  Contact Valerie Aprahamian to receive effective and efficient advocacy assistance with the goal of improving the life of your child and give them the best chance for an independent future.   

 

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Welcome to our Blog!!

Autism Awareness

 

 

 

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Jessika, LEUSD

My son’s learning disability was keeping him from learning. He is now in High School and we needed to get him help as quickly as possible. I was unable to navigate through the rules of the IEP meeting and did not receive any help from the school or the district even though I tried. Calling Valerie has been the best thing I could have ever done for our son. He is now progressing, and we are receiving the services we need for our son. Thank you Valerie!!!

 

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Susan, CNUSD

We had no idea where to begin after our son was diagnosed with Autism when he was three. Valerie was able to guide us in getting the services that our son was entitled to and has been an integral part of his IEP team for the last six years. We would be lost without her.

 

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Lisa , RUSD

When my son, Troy, and I walked into Valerie’s office for the first time, we were both very nervous. By the time we left, we both were overwhelmed with a sense of relief. Years of anger, frustration, and tears over Troy’s educational experience had been replaced with a sense of hope. Even though I am a teacher myself, I continued to struggle for years to get the school system to help my son and had been largely unsuccessful. With Valerie’s support and knowledge of special education law, we got the school to listen. I was no longer alone in my struggle. Together we navigated the evaluation process and developed IEP goals and objectives that were in my son’s best interest.

Even now, as the school system continues to fail my son, Valerie is there to guide me through the next phase of the battle. I don’t think I could have done this alone. It truly has been a blessing to have someone like Valerie advocate for my son.

 

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Julie, CNUSD

My son has a learning disability and has been on an IEP since the 2nd grade but he never really got the help he needed. When he started junior high he was so frustrated that he came home crying everyday. I hired Valerie to help my twice exceptional child get all the accommodations, supports and services he needed. Valerie has the experience and knowledge to work with the district and set up the best education plan for your child.

 

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