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Vision: Equip parents, caregivers and educators with the skills, knowledge and confidence to ensure all children graduate without remediation regardless of their ability or disability

Being a parent is the most rewarding, amazing—and also the hardest—job in the world. If you have a child with special needs, your job can be equally challenging.

Your child’s education is most likely an area of great interest to you. As a child with a disability, he or she may be eligible for special education services in school. Thanks to a powerful and important federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, children with disabilities are entitled to a
“free appropriate public education” (often called FAPE). (2) This means that schools must provide eligible children who have a disability (3) with specially designed instruction to meet their unique needs at no cost to the children’s parents. This specially designed instruction is known as special education. (4) IDEA includes a great deal of information to help states design special education programs for children with disabilities. IDEA also includes regulations to protect the rights of parents and children. (5)

Getting to know IDEA will be very useful to you, because it is the basis of your child’s educational rights. Detailed information is available on the official IDEA site established by the Department of Education, at:

One of the most important parts of the special education process is creating a plan for your child’s education. This plan is called the Individualized Education Program, or the IEP. (6) The IEP is the foundation for your child’s education, and you are a very important member of the team that develops it. Your child’s IEP lists the special education services your child will receive, based upon his or her individual needs. This is why it is so important that you understand and help develop your child’s IEP.

The Fields Foundation assist parents and caregivers with navigating the individual educational plans process. The Fields Foundation provides the following services to parents who have children with special needs:
  • Explain the basics of the special education process including the IEP
  • Parent advocacy training to teach parents how to be an effective partner with your child’s school.
  • Organize and attend IEP parent meetings with parent and or caregiver
  • Review your child’s IEP with our staff clinical psychologist
(1) “Parent” includes anyone who is legally responsible for the care and well-being of a child. This can be a guardian, grandparent, stepparent, surrogate parent, foster parent, or natural or adoptive parent. IDEA defines “parent” at 34 CFR §300.30.

(2) 34 CFR §300.7—Free appropriate public education.

(3) 34 CFR §300.8—Child with a disability.

(4) 34 CFR §300.39—Special education.

(5) 34 CFR §§300.500 – 300.537, which contain IDEA’s procedural safeguards.

(6) 34 CFR §§300.320 – 300.328—Individualized Education Programs