Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Educational Advocacy: Part Five

CCAKidsBlog.org is pleased to announce that Paula Guzzo, CCA Board Member and Past Chair, is writing a series dealing with Educational Advocacy. This is the final post in the series. Please also check out Part OnePart Two, Part Three, and Part Four.

Record Keeping During the School Years

Maintaining good records in your home file is a time saver that enables you to be a more efficient, organized advocate on behalf of your child. You should keep your own copy of all IEPs, psychological reports, test scores, correspondence with school personnel, report cards, schoolwork examples, lab results, list of medications, etc.

Record maintenance during the school years can be cumbersome. Initially, I thought that I needed one binder for Scott’s homework, one for IEPs, another for communication, another for evaluation reports, one for medical reports, etc.  You should have seen me in case conference committee meetings taking up all of the table space with so many binders spread out in front of me. Trying to find what I needed wasn’t efficient as I sometimes tried to access three or four binders at one time!

Thanks to the InSource (www.insource.org) recommendation of keeping everything in the same binder, my record keeping became greatly streamlined. Thinking it through, one binder makes sense.  You generally know the time frame when things/events occur.  When you need something, you can thumb through the binder around that particular time and readily find what you’re looking for.

It’s easy to get started being organized. Buy:

1.     Sturdy large binder (3” is manageable)
2.     Sturdy 3-hole punch
3.     Page protectors

Put everything in that sturdy binder, with the most recent on top. If there are reports or schoolwork that you don’t want to 3-hole punch, slip them into a page protector before putting them in the binder.

Use a pencil to lightly write the date on the lower right corner of everything that goes in the binder so it’ll be easy for you to find dates when you start looking for something.

When you need to take your records to case conference committee meetings or to doctor visits, everything is contained in the binder that is ready to grab and go. Binders are convenient to store on a shelf or in a file drawer.

WARNING resulting from personal experience: If you have a young child, do not think you can keep track of everything without some type of a record keeping system--years roll by and the papers pile high!

Record Keeping During Life After School (Adult Life)

As you prepare for your child to transition from school to adult life, it will simplify your and his/her life if you continue to keep records together in a binder. As your child applies for housing, college, scholarships, medical services, Medicaid, insurance, Social Security benefits, etc., you will have easy access to important records. When I worked as the Transition Coordinator for the Sycamore Services Transition Initiative, we provided the following list to families. You, undoubtedly, will have some of your own to add.

Legal Records
·                    Social Security card
·                    Social Security number of both parents
·                    Birth Certificate
·                    Guardianship Orders/Power of Attorney
·                    Copy of a Will
·                    Selective Service Registration Card
·                    State Identification Card
·                    Driver’s License
·                    Marriage Certificate for parents (if step-parents involved)
·                    Passport

Financial Records
·                    Bank Accounts
·                    Insurance policies
·                    Information regarding aall other resources
·                    Pay slips, tax returns, information regarding student income
·                    Parent income tax return statements
·                    Information about parent’s income/resources
·                    Motor vehicle registration
·                    Current Social Security award letter
·                    Residential facility admissions documents

Medical Records
·                    Medical/Clinical Information
·                    Names and addresses of current doctor(s)
·                    List of current medications
·                    Names and addresses of social service agencies providing supports
·                    Health Insurance policy numbers/cards
·                    Name/phone number of emergency contact person(s)
·                    List of previous surgeries with type, date, doctor, facility

Educational Records
·                    Copies of progress reports
·                    Report Cards/Transcripts of grades
·                    IEPs and for each school year
·                    Copies of evaluations such as speech, psychological, physical and occupational therapies
·                    Copies of all release forms including community based and work training permission forms
·                    Transfer of information to adult agency forms
·                    Resume listing addresses, phone numbers, work experiences, job responsibilities, dates worked, accomplishments and references   

A final thought: If you are computer-savvy, your ‘binder’ can be on your computer in appropriately named folders, preferably in a master folder that has links to each file (use Windows shortcuts or Mac aliases).  For example, you might have folders named “IEPs” or “Parent Reports”, etc. with the file names indicating the child and date (e.g., Scott’s IEP 2013). Unless the document owners will email you a copy (as a Word doc or pdf), this will likely require that some documents be scanned and saved as pdf’s or images. By using your computer, you may be able to find things even faster without having tons of paper to sift through. 


If you enjoyed this series, please let us know in the comments! We love feedback!


  1. Excellent work, Mrs. Guzzo. This is good advice for individuals and families who don't have Special Needs Children, too.

    1. Absolutely! It can work for anyone. Thank you for reading, for the compliment and for pointing that out!


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