Sunday, March 22, 2009

Right of the Month- Intro

All of this activity with the DDD/DES has made me re-realize how critical it is for parents and families to KNOW THEIR RIGHTS. As recent events have shown, families cannot depend on anyone else to look out for their interests. Politicians, support coordinators, and even providers may (or may not) mean well and try their best, but they have their own agendas, caseloads, and lives to look after. Ultimately, the only one who can ensure that you (as a recipient of services) and your child receive everything that you are legally entitled to is YOU.
When a family begins services with the DDD/DES, the support coordinator typically hands over a booklet and says, "here is a list of your rights and procedural safeguards. Please sign here to verify that you have been informed of your rights." Don't get me wrong- this isn't a hit against support coordinators. I've worked with lots of support coordinators and most of them go above and beyond to make sure that families are getting the best services possible. Like everyone else they are often overworked and underpaid, and explanations of rights can get tricky in any circumstance. Besides that, a lengthy discussion about legalities often isn't what the family is interested in right then. The expectation is that parents and guardians will read through the procedural safeguards booklet on their own time, but I'm sure we all know how likely that is. Most people don't think about that little booklet again until something bad happens.
So, because it is important for families to know what rights they have, the company I work for does something called a Right of the Month. Each month, we choose one right from the procedural safeguards booklet, print it out, and discuss it during home visits that month. Its not usually a lengthy discussion, but since there are 13 basic rights, in just over a year of service we cover all of them.
Basically, I'm thinking I could do the same thing here, and spotlight a right each month, along with a brief discussion. I'm looking to make this blog useful for parents navigating the birth-3 system in Arizona, in addition to keeping up to date with legislative happenings. Towards that end, if there is something related to Early Intervention that you would like me to blog about, feel free to comment or drop me an e-mail. I'm not a lawyer, so I probably couldn't help with those sorts of questions, but I'm open to trying to answer questions within my realm of knowledge.

For reference, the full procedural safeguards are listed here.

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