“Documentation is like sex when it is good, it is very, very good and when it is bad, it is better than nothing.” Dick Brandon
When you have a child, along comes the paperwork. You have the papers from the hospitals, doctors, school, grades, sports and their wonderful artwork, it grows fast and we need to develop a way to have easy and access to some of them. Each document has a different purpose and will beneficial to our jobs as parents, even more when we start our advocacy efforts.
There are any number of documents we have to keep for ourselves and our children. Documents like: SSN, birth certificates, medical records, immunization records, school records. In addition we want to keep records of evaluations, work samples, correspondence be it email or snail mail, Infant Family Service Plans (IFSP) or Individual Education Programs (IEP).
How to keep all these papers is your choice. Some families I worked with use binders that are divided into sections for the type of documents they need. They keep the most recent copy on top for easy access. Parent’s creativity is amazing! One of the parents I met kept a current picture of her child on the front of the binder. She said she took my advice of taking a picture of her child to the IEP meeting and since she had to take her kid’s documents, it was easy to both. Under the the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), custodial and noncustodial parents have certain rights with respect to their children’s education records.
My friend Jeremy Hilton was the first dad I heard talk about electronic record keeping. He shared how he scanned all of his daughter’s medical documentation, put it on a CD and sent the CD to the doctors before they had a visit. Another dad I met in Virginia said that he loaded all his kids’ document to the cloud. Keeping the documents virtually not only kept them portable but also accessible for when they had to move. Whichever method you chose the key is to keep it updated and you have a back up.
Don’t despair if you realize your files are not complete. Doctors, hospitals and specialist can always send you copies if you need them. Ask the staff for a release of records form and they may be able to send you or give you copies of the documents you need.
The same is true for therapies your child may receive outside of the school; you want to make sure you have access to the evaluations and assessments. The more information you have about your child’s disability, the more complete the picture you can present about what they can and cannot do.
If you need specific copies of school documents you may request them as well. Ask the school if you also need to provide a letter of request.
When your child is in school and if they receive Special Education services, you will want to make sure your files are up to date. You may want to write a letter to the school and request a review of your child’s record. Check with them.
You may want to review your child’s records
Once you have established your home file, keeping up to date. Just a note when moving, remember to hand-carry your documents. You want to make sure you have all the necessary documents to get your child enrolled in school, see new doctors and receive services from the new state or county you move to.
PACER Center – http://www.pacer.org/parent/php/PHP-c94.pdf
FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974) – http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/parents.html