Did you ever think that having a kid would come with so much paperwork? Right after my daughter was born I decided I needed a binder to keep track of everything-- her immunization records, birth certificate, social security card, the chart of her weight and height over time, etc. I learned quickly that having things organized in a way that I can easily find and understand is crucial to my sanity.
When you have a child with a disability, the additional paperwork can quickly spiral out of control. We're talking evaluation reports, therapist or office referrals, drafts of IEPs, homework samples...there is truly no limit to the number of papers you may want to keep on hand in order to reference later if needed.
Do you have a system for organizing all of these documents? While I love creating resources for you guys, I'm also a big fan of not reinventing the wheel and today's Free Resource Friday will help you create a system to keep these documents at your fingertips.
This free PDF IEP Binder Checklist from Understood.org has everything you need to create an organized binder for your child's file. The checklist is broken down into the following categories, and I suggest having a different, divided section in your binder for each one:
1. Communication: In this section, you'll want to include contact info for every member of your child's team, a record of when you've had contact with them (via email or in-person) and any emails from the school that you want to keep a record of.
2. Evaluations: Here you'll want to include any evaluation reports that were provided by the school, reports that you've had done privately, and any requests or consent to evaluate. If you have requested an evaluation and it was denied, also include a copy of your written request and the school's written denial.
3. IEP: This is obvious! I suggest including your child's current IEP as well as their previous IEP so that you can compare changes. Additionally, I suggest you keep a blank piece of paper for your parent concerns as you will want to get these in writing as they come up. Then, when you have your next meeting you've already got your concerns written and ready. You'll also want to include a copy of your procedural safeguards here. I suggest also including notes you've taken during IEP meetings in this section.
4. Report Cards: This section should include any formative progress information that is provided by teachers or therapists, in addition to quarterly formal evaluations.
5. Sample Work: This is so important! I suggest keeping sample work from each major academic subject and work that demonstrates deficits or progress in related skills (such as poor handwriting or inattention).
6. Behavior: In this section you'll want to keep a record of disciplinary actions, office referrals, any behavior data that you or the school team has collected, your child's behavior intervention plan (if applicable) as well as any notes from meetings regarding behavior (such as a manifestation determination meeting).
7. Medical information: I added this one as it's not on the given checklist. Please consider including a section with applicable medical information for your student-- this could include doctor's notes recommended certain accommodations, copies of prescriptions if your child needs to have medication administered at school, or even medical contact information (and releases) if you feel comfortable sharing that with the school. You never know when you might need this info!
If you haven't gleaned this already, you're going to want a BIG binder for this-- I suggest at least 2-2.5". Get a binder and download the checklist from Understood.org to get started!
While it can seem like a hassle getting all of this in order, having an organized binder that you can bring to IEP meetings is crucial to helping you feel in control and prepared.
Do you have a unique way of organizing your child's paperwork? We'd love to hear about it! Share on our Facebook page and see what others are talking about.