I feel like it is past time for me to write this post.
One of the questions I get most frequently after training parents in how to advocate for their kids is:
"Gosh, there's so much I didn't know. I didn't even realize how much I didn't know! Is there a way for me to help other families that are in this boat now that I have this knowledge?"
And the answer is YES!
If you've got the "3 Ps" (as I call them), it is absolutely possible to monetize your skills and become a paid educational advocate/IEP coach...which will lead you to the best P-- profit!
Did you know that there is no accrediting body for advocates? There is no national board, no formal training required, and no certifying program. This means that it is possible for anyone with the right set of skills to become an advocate.
It also means there is not a lot of direction out there if you want to get started-- and that's why I'm here!
So what do you need to become a paid educational advocate or IEP Coach? Passion, Personality, and Practical Knowledge.
Passion: I wouldn't suggest anyone become an advocate unless the thought of a student slipping through the cracks fills them with a kind of righteous anger. Is that a bit much? Maybe. But this is hard work, mentally and emotionally, and it's work that's not always fun. If you don't have a fire burning in your belly about this it would be easy to get burned out and switch to something easier and more straightforward. To be a successful advocate, you have to believe in your heart and bones that all children have potential and that there are ways to support ANY student so that they can grow. And you have to be willing to keep chipping away until you get there.
Personality: Here's a secret-- I'm an introvert. That may seem hard to believe with the webinars and FB lives and constantly being in front of people at meetings, but it's the truth! I live for a few hours alone in the quiet to process, think, and read a book. BUT I am able and willing to turn on an authoritative, persistent, and pressuring persona when needed. An advocate needs to be able to survey a room, ask tough questions, butt in over loud voices, and say "no, that's not acceptable" with authority. An advocate also needs to know when to be pushy and when to be agreeable, and how to present requests so that they are seen as collaborative versus confrontational. It can be a balancing act, and it requires a personality that is flexible and willing to learn in addition to being commanding.
Practical knowledge: This is last on the list but it is not insignificant! Advocates need to be intimately acquainted with the rules, regulations, and guidelines that inform the rights of students with disabilities. A few examples to test your knowledge:
These are just a few examples of the many topics that an advocate covers. As you might expect, each case is as unique as the child whose IEP is being discussed! Advocates must have a wide base of knowledge to pull from depending on the direction that a meeting takes.
(Don't know these things but want to know? Our IEP Guru Digital Course covers everything you need to know to get started as an advocate!)
If you have the passion, the personality, and the practical knowledge, becoming an education advocate could be a GREAT fit for you. And the upside?
> Helping others
> Setting your own schedule (and controlling how many clients you take on and when)
> Profit: Advocates typically charge between $30-$75/hour. Each meeting is typically 2 hours long, and requires 2-3 hours of prep and meeting follow-up. With just a handful of clients at a time I was making more than I did in my full-time job! And there are more and more students who need advocacy services all the time.
Does this seem like something you want to pursue? If so, I'd love to help you get started. On Monday, February 5th I'm launching a 5-week online advocacy coaching program for parents who want to learn how to advocate. This includes 16 quick-and-dirty online lessons to teach you all-things-IEP, 20+ PDF resources that you can turn around and use with your clients, an online community of others going through the course and a weekly live Q&A with me to answer your questions. If you've got 2 hours a week (and it can be any 2 hours! Whenever, wherever) for the next 5 weeks, you can become a fantastic advocate.
This program will prepare YOU to be ready by the first week of March (aka the beginning of IEP season!) to take on your own clients and start helping kids get what they need from the IEP process. Get 2 clients this spring? You'll pay for the course and then some.
Sign up today! You don't want to miss this.