Author: Julie H., Foster Mom
Miss D started school this past fall in our local school. This school is very different from her MPS school that she attended before. She had a learning curve for sure. She had to navigate new kids, new culture, new behavior expectations, increased academic rigor, and a new community. It wasn’t easy for her. Through this process, I could see her struggling. She was getting B’s and C’s and I knew that she was so much smarter than a B/C student. I started to put my special ed teacher hat on and look at this from a legal standpoint. Was she getting the accessibility and accommodations that she was guaranteed by law? I made a referral to get her tested for special education. Would her mental health or her hearing loss qualify her for some services at school?
2 months later (after evaluation and interviews) she did qualify for accommodations for some disability areas. She didn’t qualify for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan through special education) but did qualify for a 504 Plan. The school implemented those accommodations and within a month Miss D was getting straight A’s. She was able to access her education better. She had a legal document ensuring her that she would be able to succeed and that her teachers would adapt to what she needed.
Other than her straight A’s, I noticed that Miss D became less stressed about school. I saw that the teachers who she used to “hate”, now were some of her favorite teachers. Her time spent getting support from guidance counselors diminished to almost nothing. She was making more friends. Did I mention that she was getting straight A’s?
I can’t stress enough to families that accommodations in school (especially for foster kids) make all the difference. Please ask for a referral for special education….and yes, PTSD or Anxiety might qualify them for an IEP, but it would definitely qualify them for a 504 plan. Let’s get all of our kids the help they need in school. Miss D was “lucky” that I knew the law and was able to advocate for her, but not every parent is aware of what schools can offer them. Public schools are amazing for our kids. Let’s take advantage of all the resources that they can offer!