Independent Child Advocate

When you don’t agree with your child’s IEP team, an option available through the Solano SELPA Alternative Dispute Resolution program is the Independent Child Advocate (ICA). Solano Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) has a contractual arrangement with Carol Gonsalves Disability Services Navigation LLC, to provide services to families and schools to resolve conflict by focusing on student needs and how they can be met with educational services that comply with Federal and State laws. The ICA assists in resolving conflicts or disagreements through a non-adversarial approach.

The ICA provides in-depth advocacy including parent consultations, records review, meetings/conversations with school staff, classroom observations, attendance at IEP meetings and any other service that will facilitate a positive student outcome when families and school staff disagree. The Independent Child Advocate will make recommendations to parents and to districts from an independent perspective, always considering the needs of the student in relationship to legally compliant services and best practices.

For students with IEPs who do not have a parent available to act on their behalf at IEP meetings, districts can consider appointing the ICA to act as a Surrogate Parent for special education purposes in accordance with California Education Code. In this way, an objective and knowledgeable person can meet the student, review records and attend IEP meetings, ensuring that such children obtain the special education services they need.

The Independent Child Advocate can assist in preventing more adversarial outcomes and in preserving important relationships between families and school staff. This service is available to students who attend schools in Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield-Suisun, Travis and Vacaville school districts, including students served in those districts through county office of education programs. There is no charge to parents and all services are always voluntary.

Carol Gonsalves serves as the Independent Child Advocate.

She can be reached by phone at 707-567-7111 or by email at cgonsalves.navigation@gmail.com.