Increasingly frustrated by difficult negotiations with school districts, more parents are turning to special education advocates and attorneys for help.

Once a rare presence at individualized education program, or IEP, meetings, advocates are oftentimes parents who began navigating the special education system for their own children and now assist others as volunteers or for a fee.

Advocates don’t need any special credentials, but they typically accompany parents to IEP meetings and can even help file due-process claims. And their ranks have grown in recent years, while the number of attorneys specializing in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has also increased.

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School districts are not always pleased to see a professional advocate across the table at an IEP meeting, but parents who have employed them say advocates can make all the difference and often cost significantly less than an attorney.

“If you have never been to an IEP meeting, you have no idea how intimidating that they can be, even for a very confident person… Everyone should have an advocate go with them,” one mom told the Orlando Sentinel. To read more click here.