In 1972 The Arc, filed suit against the Secretary of Education, State Board of Education, and Secretary of Public Welfare on behalf of 13 children who were denied access to free public education. Because of this lawsuit, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agreed to develop plans to identify, locate, evaluate, educate, and train all school-age children with developmental disabilities. This historic action led to the federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which afforded all students with disabilities a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). This law has recently been reauthorized and is now called Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA).
The Arc Alliance believes the need for educational advocacy to facilitate improved school compliance with IDEIA within Montgomery, Berk’s, and Bucks Counties. As part of its commitment to represent the needs and wants of students with developmental disabilities, The Arc Alliance established its Educational Advocacy Program. Since then, The Arc Alliance’s Educational Advocacy services have supported and helped thousands of students with developmental disabilities realize their rights to Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). “The Arc Alliance is not providing legal services or legal advice”
What happens when you contact The Arc Advocacy services for Educational Issues?
- The advocate listens to the parents/guardians, gathering valuable information related to the current situation. The need for further information is also assessed.
- The advocate reviews the current Evaluation Report (ER), Re-Evaluation Report (RR), Individualized Education Program (IEP), and other pertinent documents, as necessary.
- The advocate assists parents, guardians, and students with developing a plan of action for obtaining a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
- The advocate educates/informs parents/guardians about their children’s right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), the applicable laws, the special education process, how to effectively partner with the school team, how to effectively resolve issues, and how to be their children’s best advocate.
- The advocate may attend IEP or Mediation Hearings with parents/guardians, if requested/deemed necessary.
- The advocate encourages parents/guardians to attend local workshops and conferences and to network with other parents through a variety of local disability-specific or topic-specific parent support groups.
- The advocate encourages students to become a stronger voice for themselves by self-advocating appropriately.
- The advocate may refer the family to other state and local service providers, e.g., Behavioral Health, Medical Assistance, support groups, etc. as needed.
- The advocate always works toward empowering the parent/guardian to become an informed, active, equal member of his/her child’s Educational team, knowing that the child’s parent/guardian is always the child’s best advocate.
Who can access Education Advocacy services?
All children and students from birth to 21 who are eligible or suspected of being eligible for specialized education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act (IDEIA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can access The Arc Alliance’s Educational Advocacy services.
What is the cost?
Over its long history, The Arc has always provided advocacy at no charge to those who needed it. Recently, however, due to severe funding cuts and increased demand for services, The Arc Alliance was forced to reconsider its commitment to providing these services at no charge to all who request the services. How can we continue to effectively serve families in greatest need while still making our services accessible to all other families who also need quality education advocacy support? Again, the need is great.
After much consideration, we are pleased to announce that the same high quality Education Advocacy services will continue to be offered at no charge to families with a verifiable total household income of $70,000 or less. We are also pleased to announce that all other families can access The Arc’s highly qualified Education Advocacy services for a reasonable fee of $60/hour.
The Arc Alliance’s fee-for-service education advocate is a highly qualified professional advocate capable of effectively and efficiently helping families navigate the Special Education process. We are committed to assisting families in their efforts to determine and obtain the supports, services, and placement their children need to make meaningful educational progress. “The Arc Alliance is not providing legal services or legal advice”
Who should I contact?
- I will not qualify for services at no charge and would like to contact/speak with The Arc’s Alliance education advocate, Contact email Advocacy
- I have general questions, need a referral, am not sure if I qualify for free services, or have extenuating circumstance and need to discuss a waiver of advocacy fee. Contact email Advocacy