Know Your Rights

Procedural  safeguards. On the surface, sounds like a dry topic, with strange terms and long  explanations. The  purpose of the procedural safeguards is simple: to inform parents about the  rights and protections available under Individuals with Disabilities Education  Act 2004 (IDEA). Procedural safeguards are the RIGHTS that persons have  that protect them in their interactions with federal, state, and local  governments.

So why is this important? How does it help your child? When you know your rights, you’re able to be an equal participant in the Individualized Family Service Plan/Individualized Education Program (IFSP/IEP) process, and you know how to disagree when something isn’t working.

Early intervention and special education supports for families with infants and toddlers (birth through age 3) are written out in a document called the Individualized Family Service Plan. You can ask your service coordinator for a copy of your local ISFP form.

Procedural safeguards are part of the federal law that mandates special education and early intervention services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Part C of IDEA covers services for children under under 3 years old. Special education services in Michigan are covered by the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE).

Michigan’s Part C procedural safeguards explain your family’s right to:

A Michigan Family Guidebook is available from Early On. You can request a printed booklet from your service coordinator.

Another important right for parents is the ability to disagree. Maybe you’re not being heard, or the plan isn’t being followed, or you don’t agree with decisions that have been made.  What can you do? 

  • Informally – Working with your service coordinator, discuss what you are not happy with.  Documenting the issues and proposed solutions on a worksheet can help keep everyone on track.
  • Informally – Express your concerns to the Early On® Coordinator for your county, if you have concerns that you cannot resolve with your Service Coordinator.
  • Mediation/Facilitation – If you don’t think you are being listened to, you can get an independent organization to help. Special Education Mediation Services (SEMS) has free services (no cost to families or the school/Early On®) to help work out your differences. SEMS can provide a neutral facilitator to run a meeting (this is called facilitation) and also offers mediation to resolve disputes related to special education and early intervention services.
  • Formal Complaint – If you think your rights have been violated or that the law is not being followed, you have the right to file a state complaint or request a due process hearing. Parents might worry about filing a complaint. There are organizations that can help you through the process, including Michigan Alliance for Families at 1-800-552-4821, Disability Rights Michigan  at 1-800-288-5923, or your ISD’s Compliance Officer.

Knowing and advocating for your rights is an important part of helping your child grow and learn!

More information:

More topics for parents of infants and toddlers can be found on our webpage dedicated to resources for Babies and Toddlers, or search the bigger A-Z list or  contact us

Michigan Alliance for Families, in partnership with Early On® Michigan, is working together to increase the involvement of Michigan families in the growth and development of their infants and toddlers.

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