There is No Current Certification for Advocates
Currently, there are no educational requirements for an individual to serve as an advocate, nor are there federal or state guidelines to inform the practice of “special education advocacy”.
There is no regulation or licensing of advocates so there are no guidelines other than your personal standards of competence.
Listed below are two programs that address the needs of families and professionals for special education advocacy training.
W & M Law School Institute of Special Education Advocacy (ISEA). Intensive 5 day training in special education advocacy for experienced advocates, law students, new attorneys, and attorneys who are new to special education law.
COPAA Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT), a year-long course that provides participants with training to become a special education advocate.
Here is What You Need to Learn
You will need to:
Here is Available Training
Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training
Wrightslaw offers a variety of special education law and advocacy programs taught by nationally-recognized experts in the field of special education law and advocacy. Our goal is to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills to advocate effectively for children with disabilities. Find the complete training schedule here.
Wrightslaw multi-media Training Programs (to download) are available 24/7 - wherever you live, whenever you want. Work at your own pace. Eliminate distractions and schedule your study periods at times that meet your needs.
Training from the your Parent Training and Information Center
Check the Parent Information Center (PIC) directory for the PTIC in your state.
The PIC training requires you to volunteer with PIC for a period of time.
Join the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
Become a member of the COPAA listserv and read all the posts. Over time, you will get an understanding of the difference between good advice and bad advice, a poor resource or a good one.
Tip: Don’t post on the listserv for a while, just read. See if solutions you have would have made sense when compared to the solutions you see posted. Make note of the resources you see posted by other members.
Here is Your Reading List
For starters read all of these
Read your state Special Education Regulations. You can order a copy or download a copy online from your State Department of Education.
Read the information posted on these websites
Department of Education for your state
Monitor these websites for conferences
Join the state chapters of the national organizations and read the newsletters
Check your state directory of organizations on the Yellow Pages for Kids.
This is a good booklist: The Advocates Bookstore
Subscribe to all the free education newsletters you come across. You can start with these: Free Newsletters
Go to Free Publications to download information.
As you do these things you will come across other books and websites that can provide valuable information.
You'll Know You Are Ready When...
...you get to the point where a parent comes to you and you know what to do and how to do it.
Then you are ready to work as an advocate. But keep up your reading and education.
Good Luck ,
Meet Sue Whitney