Benefits of IEP and Educational, Health and Care Plans Explained
Feb 13, 2022 What are the benefits of EHCP and IEP? What is the difference and how to choose the right plan for your special needs child?
First of all, many of you reading this might be asking, what is an EHCP? This stands for a “Educational, Health, and Care Plan.” It is the same as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) because it outlines any special educational needs a child has, and the special education services a local authority must put in place to help them.
They are both legally binding documents, which means that you must follow whatever the professionals place in them. This can be as minor as carrying snacks in their bookbags, and as important as therapies that are to be provided.
Also, an EHCP gives a child priority for admission to a mainstream school over other applicants, and it allows schools to consider a child even when they live outside of the catchment area or even in another borough.The Good Schools Guide
The main difference between the IEP and EHCP is that the school entirely determines the IEP and the law determines the EHCP. Most times, a school’s IEP team establishes the IEP first, and THEN if the school is not complying, a parent can transition to the EHCP.
An EHCP can provide for additional funding from the local authority to support the child’s needs beyond the amount a school must supply out of its own budget. It is usually vital to have an EHCP to gain entry to a special school.
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How Do I Get An EHCP or IEP?
If your school is supportive and knowledgeable about special needs, they may start the process for you. The Child Study Team is the name of the group of people typically involved. Social workers, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, and learning disability consultants make up this team.
Even with all of these experts, you can request one yourself simply by contacting your school’s Special Education Needs department and requesting an assessment for an IEP (some have a form to complete on their website).
If your school is dragging its feet, or contesting your view that the child needs extra help, you may find yourself being the one to drive the process and may then need to contact your local authorities for an EHCP. You file the EHCP through your local borough, so check out their website for more information regarding that process.
In order to evaluate an IEP in my district, a parent needs to write a request to the Director of Special Education, who then informs the Child Study Team of a referral. Nothing can be conducted until that written request (either by the teacher or parent) is received.
What Should I Expect with the EHCP or IEP Process?
Once the Child Study Team receives a referral, evaluations will start to occur. A psychologist performs cognitive testing, and a speech and language evaluation on your child, and then writes up a social history of the family. If your school has occupational therapists and the evaluation is warranted, this could be another evaluation added to the list.
The Child Study Team members have 60 days to complete and send a report to you for your review. Then they call another meeting, called an ‘eligibility meeting.’ Here they discuss the reports and make a recommendation for classification or not.
You can always appeal the decision of the Child Study Team. There will be a bigger meeting that may include the school’s principal in order to discuss the results of the evaluations and any concerns that you might have.
Typically, it’s very hard to appeal evaluations as they are standardized and are “black and white.” However, you can decide to add to or change the proposed modifications and classes if you feel they don’t adequately meet your child’s needs.
What If My Child Doesn’t Have an EHCP?
If you feel that your child needs one, then you should go through the process of getting a document implemented. Again, attempt getting an IEP first. If there is a diagnosis, such as Autism, then your child should have something in place for social/pragmatic skills. Having an IEP in place will not only help your child transition through middle and high school, it may entitle them for benefits in college. It will also ease their frustration and will allow for higher academic success.
My whole philosophy is that it never hurts to have strategies and modifications in place. If after a year the child shows major progress, the document can be modified or your child can be declassified.