Kids First Collaborative IEP Clinic

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Earlier this month, we had the privilege of facilitating an IEP workshop at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley. We were so pleased with the turn out; What a wonderful group of parents and community members! For those of you who attended- thank you for your questions and for sharing your beautiful stories. I am always deeply touched and honored to hear about the struggles (and the JOYs) that families face in their journeys.

We thought it might be helpful to write a post about some of our presentation’s highlights. We talked in detail about the initial evaluation and eligibility process as well as the development of IEPs. A big take away from this discussion was the idea that everything within a child’s IEP should be CONNECTED. This seems obvious, but often when we evaluate a child’s IEP, we find gaps. A child’s eligibility and entitlement for services is determined based on results of a comprehensive case study evaluation. These evaluation results along with functional performance data drive the identification of educational needs, goals, accommodations, modifications, supplementary aides, services, and placement. All identified needs should be accounted for in the IEP document.

We also emphasized the importance of writing high quality, standard-aligned goals to address identified needs. But how can families determine whether a goal is well written or whether it is appropriate for their child? Check out our IEP goal worksheet! During our clinic, we encouraged all participants to dig into their children’s IEPs. We invited families to choose one goal and to use this check list to evaluate the goal. WOW- did we see a wide range in terms of quality of goals from participants! Some participants shared goals that clearly needed some work while others shared examples of incredibly well written goals! This is the same phenomenon we see in our advocacy practice. Why? Because school teams are made up of human beings just like us! Some districts provide better staff development than others around high quality goal writing. The fact of the matter is that IEP goals MATTER! IEP goals are truly the benchmark by which we measure students’ progress. Our analysis of students’ progress toward IEP goals also helps us evaluate the effectiveness of the programs, curriculum, instruction, and services that students receive.

Finally, we had an incredible discussion around how to partner with school teams in support of children. At Kids First, we believe firmly in the power of parent engagement. We encourage all families to meaningfully participate in the development of their chidren’s IEPs. We understand that there are sometimes disagreements between school team members and parents/guardians, and we are here to help. If you’d like additional information about our IEP clinic, please reach out to Dr. Kimberly Melton Lechner at

Thanks again to our friends at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley, especially Sharon Pike, Parent Liaison, who helped coordinate this workshop. It’s a privilege to collaborate with you in support of families!

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Kimberly Lechner