Documenting the Experiences of Special Education Advocates

Meghan M. Burke, Samantha E. Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many parents struggle to advocate for their children with disabilities to obtain services at school. Subsequently, parents may turn to special education advocates to help ensure that their children receive appropriate services. However, it is unclear how special education advocates support families and secure services for children with disabilities. Before determining whether special education advocacy is effective, the advocacy process used by special education advocates needs to be understood. In this study, 33 special education advocates participated in individual interviews about advocacy. Participants reported that they used an advocacy process with five main stages: developing rapport with the parent, establishing clear expectations, learning about the child and the family, educating and empowering the parent, and participating in Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. Details about the advocacy process are provided, and implications for future research, policy, and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Special Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • IEP meeting
  • advocacy
  • empowerment
  • family
  • family–school partnership
  • services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Rehabilitation


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