An Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) is an important document that helps students who need special education make meaningful academic progress. An IEP can also make a big difference in a child’s application or appeal for IHSS protective supervision. From the standpoint of a county social worker or administrative law judge, an IEP provides a view into the IHSS applicant’s abilities and behaviors at school. As a result, an IEP is often seen as more objective than parent testimony.
The most helpful IEPs include the following:
- a description of the student’s cognitive impairment(s);
- a statement that the student lacks safety awareness, such as an IEP goal that addresses the student’s lack of safety awareness;
- a summary of the student’s potentially dangerous behaviors and need for frequent redirection;
- a behavior intervention plan that addresses the student’s potentially dangerous behaviors;
- placement in a special education classroom and/or if the IEP provides a 1:1 aide to address the student’s need for frequent redirection.
An IEP that contains no mention of the student’s dangerous behaviors and need for redirection can potentially hurt your case for IHSS protective supervision. This is because one of the requirements for protective supervision is that the applicant must need 24-hour supervision to prevent him/her from harm, so it would be expected that the child attempts these behaviors at school, too.
For example, if the parent is claiming that the child often attempts to wander from home, then it would also be expected for the child to attempt wandering from class. By contrast, if the child engages in other dangerous behaviors involving the kitchen, such as touching the hot stove, then of course those behaviors wouldn’t be expected to appear in the IEP, since students don’t usually have access to kitchens at school.
It’s worth noting that a parent’s goal for an IEP might be somewhat at odds with the objective of securing IHSS protective supervision. For the IEP, a parent may likely want the child placed in the least restrictive environment. In order to achieve this, the parent might want to emphasize the child’s strengths at the IEP. However, in order for an IEP to serve as a helpful supporting document for protective supervision eligibility, then an IEP should also clearly identity the student’s areas of need, especially the student’s lack of safety awareness and propensity to engage in dangerous behaviors. An experienced attorney or advocate can help you strike that balance.