Being a Partner of Professionals for Your Child
Korean-American Parents' Preparation for an IEP Meeting
My family immigrated to America last year looking for a better educational environment for my child with a disability. I got notified my son's IEP meeting from his school. As an immigrant parent, however, I have little information about an IEP meeting. The limited English proficiency and cultural difference are other challenges to our family. What do I need to know about IEP meetings and how can I advocate for my child's needs in the U.S.?
A child with a disability is eligible to get special education and/or related services in the U.S. Having a child's Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) meeting is an important part of the whole special education process. The immigrant families including Korean-American parents often meet challenges, such as getting information in terms of IEP meetings, understanding American culture when interacting with professionals and communicating by their limited English proficiency. This Knowledge-to-Action Guide will help you get through the difficulties in English and American culture as well as information regarding an IEP meeting.
- Remember that the difficulty of attending an IEP meeting is not necessarily limited to immigrant parents. The majority of European American parents also experience difficulties in getting information in terms of IEP meetings and communicating with professionals in order to advocate for their child with a disability.
- Getting assistance from other Korean parents who have got through the special education system in the U.S. and are knowledgeable about IEP meetings could be the best resource available. Thus, try to build relationships with other Korean-American parents at the earliest time possible and invite a veteran parent to attend an IEP meeting for support if needed.
- Prepare for an actual IEP meeting through defining your child's strengths and needs, and understanding the language of special education used in IEP meetings. If necessary, request a preliminary IEP meeting to discuss your concerns.
- Recognize that you are an equal partner of professionals in IEP meetings to advocate for your child with a special need. The IEP is not for accepting everything from professionals, but for discussing your child's needs with professionals for the best outcome of your child.
- Having an English-Korean interpreter could be beneficial for parents who need support in communicating with professionals. Thus, ask an interpretation service to your child's school when notified an IEP meeting or bring your own translator in the meeting.
- Try to openly communicate with professionals and respect their perspectives in order to build a successful parent/professional partnership in collaboration. Ask questions for clarification or rephrases in order not to misunderstand each other.