Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

1176 Words5 Pages
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) greatly emphasizes the participation of the child’s family during the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. Parents and/or caregivers are considered one of the most essential members of their child’s IEP team. Their involvement benefits their child’s overall academic success. Unfortunately, full parental involvement does not always occur and there can be many different reasons for their nonparticipation. The IEP process can be a very overwhelming experience for families with children with special needs, especially for those who are culturally diverse. It is the job of the professionals and special education teachers to understand the importance of collaborating with family’s and strategies used to make them feel welcomed and a part of their child’s IEP team. In order to understand what professionals can do to enhance collaboration with culturally diverse families, it is helpful to know what some of their perspectives are of their experiences with the IEP process. Lusa Lo (2008) conducted a study that investigated Chinese families’ level of participation and experiences in the IEP meeting and found that many of the participants were unhappy with the experience. The first challenge they reported was the language barrier. Although there was a translator present, she was not trained in special education and therefore could not translate commonly used terms for the families. Another challenge reported was that they felt disrespected and that their opinions were not valued. Professionals would arrive late or leave early making the families feel as though they were not important. Unfortunately, this study is just one small example of only some of the challenges that cultu... ... middle of paper ... ...ut there are many things that need to be considered in order to build that trusting and positive relationship. Professionals need to be respectful and knowledgeable of the values and beliefs of the family they are working with by researching background information on their culture before meeting with the family. Professionals need to provide culturally diverse families with the skills and knowledge they need in order to understand the special education system and help them become advocates for their children. Lastly, schools should provide trainings, not only for parents, but also for professionals to help build and learn new skills. While there are many barriers to parental participation, with all of these strategies combined, it is more likely that schools will see more family involvement and parents will feel like a valid member of their child’s IEP team.
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