Each student who is eligible for special education services is required to have an individualized education plan (IEP).
An IEP is legally binding documentation of a student’s goals for the school year, along with a description of accommodations, modifications and specifically designed instruction that the school will provide to help the student achieve the goals set by the IEP team. An IEP team consists of the student, if he/she is age 14 or older; the student’s parent(s) or legal guardian; therapist(s) representing the service areas the student requires, e.g. speech/language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy; the student’s teacher(s); a teacher representing the grade the student will be advancing to, if applicable; and any other professionals who are involved with the student’s progress at school.
Sometimes the professionals and the student or his/her personal representatives have difficulty agreeing on what services or supports are required in a particular situation. In these cases it’s helpful for the student and his/her personal representatives to be educated on what the law requires and allows pertaining to student development. A competent advocate knowledgeable about laws that support student rights can aid the student in these situations, in a non-adversarial environment.
The Volunteer Advocacy Program (VAP) was developed through Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center, one of Tennessee’s University Centers for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). Adapted for Kentucky in partnership with the Human Development Institute (HDI) at UK, Kentucky’s University Center of Excellence on Developmental Disabilities, VAP is a 36-40 hour training designed to produce competent advocates who can help with Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s).
Unique to Kentucky’s VAP, a dyad model focusing on self-determination and advocacy skills has been added to the curricula. This is designed to allow a family member or guardian to learn alongside a self-advocate for the portion of the course covering student-led, i.e. “self-advocate-directed,” IEPs.
Build Inclusion’s partnership with HDI to bring VAP to Kentucky combines the expertise of industry and educational professionals with the firsthand experience of families associated with Build Inclusion – as staff, board members, volunteers and supporters – to ensure the highest quality replication for VAP.
How VAP Works
The program will be delivered from the HDI campus at 1531 Bull Lea Road in Lexington, Kentucky. The 36-40 hour training takes place over a 12-14 week period (excluding holidays). The first VAP for the state of Kentucky will begin in September 2016 and will meet on Saturdays 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. The class is limited to 35 participants. Childcare is not provided.
The course fee of $99 covers all required study materials. A key component of participants’ eligibility will be their willingness to provide free IEP advocacy services to four families after completing the program. Family-matching services will be provided by Build Inclusion (link to IEP Support Referrals).
Get Started with VAP
Register for VAP
For more information or if you are seeking an advocate to help you in an upcoming IEP meeting, please contact us.