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BY Rebecca

Why you may need an Advocate

What is an Advocate and why is having one important to me and my family?  The basic definition of an Advocate is someone who stands up in support of you, someone who fights for your rights!  Sounds pretty simple, however why you may need an advocate isn’t always simple.

So how in the world does Advocacy work and why would a parent need it for their child?  Here is the most basic, straight forward answer to that question:

  • When you try to navigate through the bureaucracy of the school district on your own it gets VERY overwhelming.
  • School districts often use language that confuses parents into choosing accommodations for their children that they should really consider for longer.
  • There are many services and accommodations that people like me (Advocates/Social Workers) know about that are out there for the taking, but need to be asked for.
  • Sometimes services are not provided because of financial constraints, unfortunate, but true.  In these cases, having a qualified representative to assist you in getting what you need for your child is the best thing for them.

Here is the bottom line.  You have the right to any person you want as a representative with you at any meeting for your child.  It is your legal right.  Take advantage of it, use it, and exercise it to your benefit.  Righting the IEP, figuring out placements, those are tough decisions that a team makes TOGETHER.  Why wouldn’t you want as many people on your side as possible?  We all do the best we can to advocate for our children; part of that is knowing when we need to ask for help.  We need to set an example for our children and teach them when to ask for assistance when we don’t know everything.  Also, the job of a good advocate will help you learn how to be a better advocate for your child.


Written on November 15, 2010 by:

Rebecca Zusel, LMSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, mother of 3, practicing therapist, previous School Social Worker and active Advocate, representing children with special needs and their families. Visit her website at

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