- Help Your Child Develop and Learn
- Effectively Communicate Your Child’s Needs
- Help Your Child Transition to Preschool
- Know Your Rights
Procedural safeguards. On the surface, it might seem like a dry topic, with long explanations and terms that will generally seem useless to your family. 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 check with your service coordinator for a copy your local form, but the state of Michigan does have a model form and guidance on completing the form available.
Procedural safeguards are part of the federal law that mandates special education and early intervention services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Services for children under under 3 years old are listed under Part C of IDEA. 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:
- Timeliness of services
- Right to Decline Services
- Informed Consent
- Access to Records
- Individualized Family Service Plan
- Written Prior Notice
- Information given to you in your native language
- Service coordination
- Natural environments
- Transition Planning
A 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 complaint with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Parents 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, Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services (MPAS) 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!
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.