Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Related Services: Services for Parents

Although not often included within an IEP document there are related services provided for under the law that are specific to Parents. The 2006 IDEA Part B regulations made it clear that while the 2004 statute did not include these services, the Department of Education believed that retaining the parent services were necessary in order to provide parents with counseling and training necessary to support the implementation of their child's IEP. See Analysis of Comments and Changes to 2006 IDEA Part B Regulations, 71 Fed. Reg. 46573 (2006).

There are five types of related services that an IEP team may find are appropriate for parents:
1) Counseling and guidance of parents regarding hearing loss and the related service of audiology. 34 CFR 300.34(c)(1).
2) Parent counseling and training. 34 CFR 300.34 (c)(8) This includes assisting parents in understanding the special needs of their child, providing parents with information about child development, and helping parents to acquire the necessary skills that will allow them to support the implementation of their child's IEP.
3) Planning and managing a program of psychological counseling for children and parents. 34 CFR 300.34 (c)(10).
4) Group and individual counseling with the child and family. 34 CFR 300.34 (c)(14).
5) Counseling of parents regarding speech and language impairments and the related service of speech pathology. 34 CFR 300.34(c)(15).

A parent may be eligible to receive sign language training in order to have the necessary skills to implement the child's IEP. See 34 CFR 300.34(c)(8). Although not automatically provided to parents of a student who is deaf or who has speech deficits, it is required when an IEP team decides that such training is needed for the student to benefit from special education. See Letter to Dagley, 17 IDELR 1107 (OSEP 1991); see also Letter to Anonymous, 19 IDELR 586 (OSEP 1992).

Hearing officers have also found that a LEA has to reimburse parents for private evaluations of students finding that the assessment was required to help parents acquire the necessary skills that will allow them to support the implementation of the child's IEP. See Hawaii Dep't of Educ., 102 LRP 3706 (SEA HI 2000) (finding that the state education department had to reimburse parents for testing and evaluations of their child performed by a private evaluator).

Parent training can also be provided in the home setting. In re: Student with a Disability, a hearing officer determined that an IEP for an 8-year old with Autism was not sufficient because it did not include parent training. In that case the IHO cited New York state regulation that mandated parent counseling and education for the purpose of enabling parents to perform appropriate follow-up intervention activities at home for children who were classified as autistic. The IHO concluded that the evidence overwhelmingly pointed to the need for training to enable the parent to perform follow-up ABA therapy in their home. Furthermore, the IHO disagreed with the district's position that simply informing the parent that she could come to school and observe ABA instruction was sufficient to satisfy its IDEA requirements. See In re: Student with a Disability, 102 LRP 8600 (SEA NY 2000).

Under some circumstances, transportation services are also available to parents when a student is placed at a residential placement. The IDEA does not set a minimum on the number of parents visits that a LEA is expected to fund to the residential facility. If a state or district policy on the number of trips does exist, however, it must allow for a case-by-case determination of how much visitation is necessary given the student's unique needs. A district may be required to fund a number of visits to a placement in order for parents to participate in other related services. In New Prairie United School Corporation, the court found that the district was obligated to fund either 12 parental visits to the school annual or 12 visits home, where parental visitation allowed for parents to participate in a family therapy program and training. See New Prairie United Sch. Corp., 30 IDELR 346 (SEA IN 1999). In Aaron M. by Glen M. and Lindy M. v. Yomtoob, the court found that parents were entitled to six trips per year to son's out-of=state residential placement in order to learn skills and strategies to work with their son. See Aaron M. by Glen M. and Lindy M. v. Yomtoob 38 IDELR 122 (N.D. Ill. 2003).


  1. Mandy-
    The information you posted is so important to remember--and for parents to understand what is available to them. As educators, it is easy for us to forget just how much stress, work, and energy it takes to raise a child with disabilities. I have my students for 45 minutes a day, and then they move on. This info on parental training/counseling is essential. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mandy-
    Your post is an important reminder that it is not only the rights of the child that are within the IEP. As a teacher, it is easy to forget just how challenging being the parent of a student with special needs is. I have my students for 46 minutes each day, and then they leave. Parents do not have this luxury. Although the 5 related services mentioned may not apply for every parent of a special needs child, it is important that they are aware they are available. It is also important that educators are aware they are available too.

    Kelli McDonald

  3. Can a school system combine bus routes for two different special education schools in two separate urban counties from the home county, when that combination adds 45 minutes on to an otherwise 70 minute bus ride making it a 115 minute ride in each direction? This is in context with a 5 year old Autistic student.

  4. This question is complex because ultimately it will depend on very specific facts. Generally, transportation is considered a related service, so just like with any other related service, the IEP team should discuss what is appropriate in regards to how transportation will be provided and should give consideration to a child's unique needs. However, in many cases involving transportation issues, districts are given great leniency as it is viewed as an "administrative decision." Thus, when a parent wants to fight the length of a bus route or an issue similar to that, it will be important to establish clear and concrete reasons why this individual child's needs will not be met and/or the child will be harmed by what the district is proposing for transportation. As with any dispute over what should or should not be provided, an expert opinion may be required in order to establish this evidence.