Documenting the Experiences of Special Education Advocates

Title: Documenting the experiences of special education advocates

Purpose: Although many families report wanting a special education advocate, little research has examined how advocates support families of children with disabilities. In this study, we explored the phenomenon of special education advocacy.   

Method: We conducted individual interviews with 33 special education advocates across two states. All advocates graduated from the Volunteer Advocacy Project, a special education advocacy training.    


  • Participants reported that the advocacy process was linear and included five steps:
    • Developing rapport with the family
    • Establishing clear expectations with the family about the role of the advocate
    • Learning about the child and the family
    • Educating and empowering the family
    • Participating in IEP meetings

For more information, see:

Burke, M.M., & Goldman, S.E. (2017). Documenting the experiences of special

            education advocates. Journal of Special Education, 51, 3-13. DOI: