The National Special Education Advocacy Institute (NSEAI) is an interdisciplinary(1) professional association dedicated to special education consulting and advocacy that is child focused and addresses the unique educational needs of each student, promoting meaningful educational benefit through the development of a comprehensive and individualized educational plan. We train Board Certified Education Advocates, BCEAs in basic regulatory and special education principles related to IDEA and ADA including:
➢ FAPE – Free Appropriate Public Education
➢ LRE - Least Restrictive Environment
➢ Procedural Safeguards
➢ Disability Accommodations & Related Services
➢ Research based educational interventions, and
➢ Educational needs based evaluations and analysis.
The NSEAI Board developed the NSEAI Practice Principles and Guidelines, originally adopted in March of 2008 and subsequently revised in February of 2009, to be used to delineate professional ethics and standards of practice for all BCEAs. This document represents the views of national stakeholders and those in other forums. BCEA’s have agreed to adhere to the voluntary NSEAI Practice Principles and Guidelines in their private consulting practices.
COMPETENCE AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The BCEA shall practice within the scope of their profession and maintain the high standards of professional behavior established by the NSEAI Practice Principles and Guidelines to maintain the authorization to use the BCEA title.
➢ NSEAI will investigate(3) any noncompliance to practice guideline claim associated with a BCEA.
➢ NSEAI may withdraw the authorization to use the BCEA title from any consultant/ advocate who substantially violates the Practice Guidelines and Principles, without recourse by the BCEA.
➢ The BCEA will successfully complete the NSEAI certification course and examinations.
➢ BCEAs are required to obtain ongoing training, experience, consultation, or supervision necessary to ensure the competence of their services after board certification. This is individually acquired by the BCEA outside of NSEAI sponsored training and certification process.
➢ BCEA will acquire 75 CEU hours for a Fellow applicationor 55 CEU hours for a Diplomat application prior to Board Certification. The BCEA will then maintain knowledge in the field of special education by acquiring a minimum of 30 continuing education hours, every 3 years. (CEU qualifying activities include attending conferences and conventions, other professional CEU hours, and participating in workshops or course work related to the field of special education,)
SCOPE OF PRACTICE & PRACTICE PRINCIPLES
Board Certified Education Advocates, BCEA assist families by providing consultative services only in the context of their defined professional role. BCEA s shall disclose the scope of their practice to clients. BCEA s will actively:
➢ Hold in the highest regard the welfare of individuals served professionally
➢ Promote and assist in the development of comprehensive individualized educational plans that are educationally appropriate, sufficient and provide meaningful educational benefit. To this end, BCEAs will:
• accompany the parent to educationally based discussions and meetings including: IEP & 504 meetings, Mediation, Due Process …
• assist parents to understand complex evaluation reports
• assist in the transition plan development to post secondary education, job placement or independent living
• promote student placement in the least restrictive environment, academically and socially, appropriate for them to access their education
• identify educational options
• assist in obtaining services and research based programming to address the child’s unique needs
• promote identification of areas of educationally based need or lack of skill sets
• promote the use of student strengths
• promote the use of appropriate evaluation and progress monitoring tools by schools
• facilitate informed decision making for clients, concerning educational programming, by providing the broadest range of research based choices, based on an understanding of the child’s unique learning style and educational needs
➢ Advocate for the rights, full participation and inclusion of all individuals with developmental disabilities4 in our schools and communities. To this end, BCEAs will:
• empower parents/guardians & students to self advocate
• teach, facilitate communication, and accompany clients to meetings
• not represent a client or give legal, psychological or medical advice
➢ Consult with the focus on a collaborative team approach and attempt to resolve conflicts using disputes resolution tools offered under IDEA and State Regulations (IEP meetings, Informal meetings, Mediation and Due Process)
• listen to parental concerns • facilitate client communication with schools and specialist related to educational issues • facilitate parent/guardian and student inclusion, as equal members, in the IEP team process • facilitate parent complaints to their State Department of Education • refer to independent evaluators or lawyers for services based on the client’s needs
➢ Share resources about special education, related fields, and regulations with peers and clients
PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR GUIDELINES
Professional behavior is demonstrated by the BCEA when they:
➢ accept only clients for whom they believe the requested service is commensurate with the their education, training, and experience. If necessary makes an appropriate referral of their client to someone who can address their unique needs.
➢ presents information truthfully, objectively and knowingly makes no false statements.
➢ uses language that is fully understandable to the client and other participants in meetings.
➢ do not engage in discrimination against individuals or groups based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or any basis whether or not proscribed by law.
➢ act civilly and respectfully to those with whom they interact, and do not knowingly engage in behavior that is harassing, disrespectful or demeaning to persons.
➢ refrain from providing services when their personal circumstances may compromise delivering services in a timely and professional manner.
➢ cooperate with other professionals in order to serve their clients effectively and appropriately by sharing resources.
➢ are honest concerning their knowledge base and skills and clear as to what their practice guidelines include and do not include.
➢ are knowledgeable about the regulations in the jurisdictions in which they work or in which their clients are located.
➢ handle matters in a timely fashion and maintains regular communication with their clients.
➢ practice within the scope of their profession and do not participate in the unauthorized practice of law, psychology or medicine.
➢ rely on scientifically researched based and professionally derived knowledge when making judgments and providing recommendations to clients.
➢ review client records and information prior to offering specific assistance that is within their scope of practice.
➢ accept the Rules of Adverse Assumptions (expect the worst and act as if you are going to due process or other legal action) and protect the client’s case for possible further resolution.
➢ exercise care to ensure self determination for individuals with developmental disabilities4 and communicate effectively so that they fully understand the benefits and risks of any decision.
➢ communicate the desires and needs of the individual with developmental disabilities*, and the desires of the families they consult with, regardless of their own personal opinions on the matter. If there is a conflict of interest, the BCEA should withdraw from the collaborative decision-making process.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
➢ A BCEA shall when possible refrain from entering into personal, professional, financial, or other relationships with any person where it is likely that such a relationship may present a conflict of interest or undue influence or impair the BCEA’s objectivity or effectiveness with their clients.
➢ The BCEA s have a responsibility to operate in the best interest and at the direction of their clients.
➢ BCEAs work to resolve any conflicts of interest keeping in mind the best interests of the client and compliance with these NSEAI Practice Principles and Guidelines.
➢ Clients have a right to confidentiality and BCEA s shall maintain appropriate confidentiality when creating, storing, accessing, transferring, and disposing of any records, in any medium, under their control.
➢ The BCEA shall obtain a written consent from the client before obtaining or disclosing client records from or to other sources.
➢ Disclosure of confidential information is done, where permitted by law, to obtain payment for services, in which disclosure is limited to the minimum necessary.
➢ BCEA s shall document their professional work in order to facilitate provision of services later by them or by other professionals.
➢ It is recommended that BCEAs maintain records for at least 2 years after services are rendered. BCEAs shall dispose of outdated records appropriately, subject to state law, and in a way to maintain confidentiality.
FEES AND SERVICE ARRANGEMENTS
➢ Fee information shall be provided to clients, prior to service delivery, about the nature of the BCEA’s services and a signed agreement executed specifying the compensation and the billing arrangements.
➢ If limitations to services can be anticipated because of limitations in financing, this shall be discussed with the client as early as possible.
➢ Fee arrangements with other professionals or individuals not working for the BCEA, related to the client’s case, will be disclosed to the client.
➢ When a client no longer needs the service, services are not creating benefit, harm is being created by continued service, or any other provision within these guidelines is being violated the client relationship shall be terminated in a professional manner.
BCEAs agree to comply with the NSEAI Practice Principles and Guidelines in public statements relating to their professional services, products, publications or when referring to the field of Special Education Advocacy. (A public statement may consist of: paid or unpaid advertising, brochures, printed material, phone directory listings, curriculum vitae, interviews or comments for use in media, statements in legal proceedings, lectures and public presentations, and published materials).
2 Board Certification of any service provider, in any field, is the
process by which a non-governmental agency or association validates an
individual’s knowledge in a defined functional area. Candidates for
certification must meet specific requirements of eligibility and pass
3 NSEAI does not have any regulatory authority to directly monitor the
consultant’s practices. Only work related functions and activities
of a BCEA fall under these Guidelines.
4 For purposes of this document Developmental Disabilities includes any cognitive, physical, social - emotional, or behavior deficits, genetic or acquired, that impact the individual’s ability to access their education.