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Helping Families Navigate Special Education

The Arc of Philadelphia has a long history of educational advocacy for young people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. A significant part of our work involves helping families navigate the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, which is a legally binding contract between the student, family, school district, and important persons in the child’s education and development. The IEP sets out how the child will receive specialized instruction and related services. 

The IEP is a complex document and process that can involve many steps, and often, parents do not know how to best advocate for their child during this process. Additionally, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education delivery can make this an especially difficult time for children with disabilities who are not comfortable learning virtually, or are without one-on-one therapies, such as behavioral, speech, or occupational therapy. In this difficult time, parents need tools that will help them become active, informed advocates for their child’s education. 

To this end, The Arc of Philadelphia is proud to be offering a series of classes for parents, family members, and caregivers on navigating the IEP process. Led by our Child Advocacy Director, topics include how to address the change in format for delivering occupational, physical, and speech/language therapies and behavioral support, issues around one to one staff in a virtual setting, how to track progress, progress monitoring of goals set forth in an IEP, how to request documentation of the child’s progress, how to request regression and recoupment services, requesting compensatory education, and how to document the child’s progress towards goals set in the IEP. 

Of the trainings and the services provided by The Arc of Philadelphia, one parent said “I cannot thank The Arc of Philadelphia enough for the services they provide, which have allowed me to be an active citizen in my children’s education; as well as contribute to my strength to work through challenging times (self-determination) and reveal the rights that my children have to full inclusion in their educational settings.”

The delivery of education is paramount, especially given the additional challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Arc of Philadelphia is committed to providing a breadth of services and information to parents and families to support children and youth with disabilities. 

For more information about the Parent IEP Series, please contact Lisa Johnson at or 215.229.4550 x 130.

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