Should you hire an educational consultant for residential treatment placement for your child?
An educational consultant is a person who is hired to help a student with their educational needs. Read on to learn about educational consultants near you and how to find a consultant, advocate, or attorney to meet your family’s needs.
- What is an Educational Consultant or Advocate?
- Types of Educational Consultants and Advocates for Parents
- What Does an Consultant or Advocate Do?
- How Much Does an Educational Advocate Cost?
- What I I Need an Advocate But I Can’t Afford It?
- 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an Advocate, Consultant, or Attorney
- How Can I Find an Educational Consultant Near Me?
- Recommended Educational Consultants and Attorneys for Boarding Schools, Residential Treatment, and Group Home Placements
What is an Educational Consultant or Advocate?
If you are struggling with your child’s behavior or need additional help finding a suitable placement, consider hiring someone to help.
Consultants and advocates are experts in the field of education and have the resources to help you find the best placement option for your child whether in your school district, boarding school, residential placement or other treatment options.
Types of Educational Consultants and Advocates for Parents
Here are available options to consider when hiring an expert for your child’s special needs.
Educational consultants advise educators, parents and schools on educational strategies, placement options, and therapeutic interventions that can improve students’ learning.
Some professionals in this field work with schools or school districts and others work directly with students and their families.
Education consultants who work one-on-one with individual families as an independent consultant can assist you in finding a placement in boarding school or residential treatment for your child.
Consultants and advocates have the expertise to personalize solutions for individual students. Many consultants work exclusively with special populations such as athletes, at-risk youth, or international students. If your goal is to find a residential or boarding school option for your child, look for a consultant who works with learning disabilities, special needs, or mental health issues.
The consultant will work to match your child to the right learning environment including remedial or special education services as well as public, private, or boarding school. They will advise you through the application process, too.
Educational advocates are professionals who are hired by parents for assistance when a child is not receiving services, not making progress toward goals, or an IEP is not being followed. While rare, it is possible for a school district to fund residential treatment and an education advocate can assist with the process.
Services an educational advocate can provide include IEP reviews, attending IEP meetings with parents, 504 plan development, access to private schools, therapeutic boarding schools, military schools, wilderness programs, residential placements, programs for learning disabilities and more.
Educational advocates work with children with all types of special needs include mental health and behavioral challenges, learning disabilities, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), autism, reactive attachment disorder (RAD), and more.
Family advocates work with families in their home and community and provide support, education and empowerment.
Family advocates have lived experience, which means they have parented a child who has mental health challenges and understand the unique situations other parents face.
Family advocates provide their services free of charge and often work through an agency or government system such as within a school or court system. Contact your county Department of Human Services to find a family advocate in your area.
An attorney, or lawyer, helps individuals navigate the United States legal system and provides advisement and representation. At times, an attorney can be helpful for families of children with behavior problems.
Situations where an attorney can be helpful include:
- When parents are charged with neglect or criminal charges due to their child’s behavior.
- Disputes with the Department of Human Services regarding children’s placement or payment for placement.
- When a child or teen commits a crime or damages property.
- When a family feels unsafe with the child remaining in their home.
- Foster care, adoption, and adoption subsidy issues.
- When a child sexually abuses a sibling or another child.
- Children’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) disputes and educational issues with school districts.
Transition Coordinator or Transporter
Transition coordinators help with moving a child from your home into a program such as therapeutic boarding school or military school, or from a program back to your home. See below for a parent-recommended transition coordinator.
What Does an Consultant or Advocate Do?
Some educational consultants specialize in working with children and adolescents who have mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD. Consultants often work with parents in securing the best placement for their child in a non-traditional school setting, such as boarding schools or group homes.
Educational advocates assist parents in making sure school districts are following the law as addressed in the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).
The best educational consultant for you is one that specializes in your child’s needs and works well with your family’s situation.
How Much Does an Educational Advocate Cost?
Independent educational consultants and advocates typically charge $85-200 per hour.
Attorneys fees vary greatly depending on type of law, costs in your area of the country, and the lawyer’s experience. Family law fees are in the range of $150-480 per hour.
Family advocates work with an agency or system and services are free to families or funded through Medicaid or insurance.
What I I Need an Advocate But I Can’t Afford It?
Parents often email us requesting help placing their child in residential treatment. When we recommend hiring an advocate or attorney, they often say they can’t afford it.
We understand these concerns. The cost of hiring an advocate is a heavy financial burden.
However, the burden to your family due to your child’s special needs is also heavy. Consider these questions:
- Has life gotten where where you feel like you are no longer living, but merely surviving?
- Are you constantly in crisis?
- Has your child not made improvements, despite all your best efforts?
- Have you used all the services available in your area, yet you still need more help?
- Is your child a danger to himself, you, and other family members?
If this is your situation, even if you feel you can’t afford it, you can’t afford NOT to hire an advocate. Consider the toll your child’s behavior is taking on your family and if there are ways to secure the money to hire an advocate.
Some consultants offer a sliding scale or reduced fees if you are in a position where you cannot pay full price. Don’t be afraid to ask for an arrangement to be made based on your family’s financial situation.
10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an Advocate, Consultant, or Attorney
The decision to hire an advocate is not an easy one. The time, trust, and financial cost can be significant and you want to be sure you are paying for the best services available to meet your child’s needs.
Most advocates and consultants offer a free initial consultation to determine if you are a good match for working together. Some charge an initial fee that is rolled into the costs if you decide to hire him or her.
Here are questions to ask when hiring an advocate, consultant, or attorney:
- How long have you practiced?
- Who is your typical client and how do you help them?
- What are your areas of expertise? What are your qualifications or credentials?
- What are your fees? What does this fee include?
- Do any of your services cost an additional fee?
- Will you attend meetings, IEP meetings, court, etc. with me? What is it like when we go together?
- How can I get ahold of you? How will you keep me informed of progress with the situation?
- Will you contact schools, agencies, etc. on my behalf?
- How long (or how many hours) do you expect our case to take until we find a successful placement?
- Are there any aspects of this situation that you don’t do?
While it can be a bit uncomfortable to ask so many questions, remember that you are paying for these services and have a right to answers. A good advocate will be happy to answer all of these questions and more.
You can also request to speak to one of their former clients for a referral. Due to confidentiality reasons, not all advocates will allow this but it’s worth asking. (Words of advice from a fellow parent are often the best source of information anytime you have a child with behavior issues! See below for specific recommendations of advocates that we have received from parents.)
How Can I Find an Educational Consultant Near Me?
Here are resources to find an attorney, advocate, or educational consultant near you. Keep in mind that some consultants provide services virtually (online) so you can work with them regardless of what state you live in.
Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys – Listing by State – If your child is adopted, diagnosed with RAD, or has other needs related to adoption, find an attorney in your area with this listing.
Find an Adoption Attorney – Government listing of adoption lawyers and consultants.
Wright’s Law Listing – How to Find an Advocate or Attorney in Your Area – Listing of places to find resources in your state for a child with special needs.
Yellow Pages for Kids – Find a listing of special needs support for kids, listed by state.
Find a Consultant for Day and Boarding School or Therapeutic Placement – Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) – Use this search to find a consultant in your area who specializes in residential and boarding school placements.
International Advocates – For consultation outside of the United States, use this IECA directory and search for an advocate who works internationally.
COPPA, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates – Use this listing to find a special education advocate or attorney in your area.
Learning Disabilities of America – Listing of disability rights and advocacy organizations.
Caresolace.org – An organization that matches school districts with mental health services.
Recommended Educational Consultants and Attorneys for Boarding Schools, Residential Treatment, and Group Home Placements
The following listings are attorneys, advocates, and consultants that have been recommended to us by fellow parents. We have not worked with each of these individuals and a listing is not an endorsement. Listings are provided for information purposes only.
Do you have an advocate you have worked with personally and would recommend? Contact us and share the information.
Dean Doering and Associates – Therapeutic educational consultation services and placement specialists. Young adult coaching (failure to launch), assessments, and more. Contact Dean Doering and Associates through their website or by calling (206) 324-3344. (Recommended by a parent of a child with RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder.)
Dr. Paul Livelli – Educational consultant and experienced with placing autistic children in treatment.
RADvocates – These RAD advocates help parents of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder, providing services such as monthly mentorship and custom advocacy support programs. These are reactive attachment disorder experts who will help you navigate parenting and treatment options.
Tara Akers, Therapeutic Boarding School Placing Specialist – Tara Akers began her career in placement through roles as direct care staff and case management in a therapeutic school. She progressed to admissions work, consulting, and professional intervention services and has been helping families since 2004. She has worked as a placement specialist with Best Choice Admissions for five years while also providing admissions and business coaching services to several schools.
Timothy J. Eirich, attorney in Denver, Colorado – Tim’s work includes a wide range of adoption issues, including residential placements, rescinding an adoption, and legal issues related to foster care, adoption, and adoption subsidies. Contact Tim through his website or by calling (303) 679-8266.
Steve Bozak – Specializes in helping you find and select the most suitable boarding schools to meet your child’s needs. ADD, ADHD, ODD, Special needs of any kind or traditional boarding schools. Emotional growth, boot camps, military schools, wilderness training, therapeutic, immediate, short or long term. Nation wide.
Charles Mitchell with Family Transitions LLC – Parent-recommended transporter who can assist with moving your child into a program, including outside of the United States. Click here to read a parent’s story of using Charles’ services and costs involved. Contact Charles at 213-221-9944 (texting preferred).
Scott at Best Choice Admissions – A free boarding school placement service.
The decision to place your child into residential treatment or a boarding school for troubled youth is not an easy one for parents. Consider hiring an educational consultant, advocate, or attorney to help you find an appropriate placement and secure funding. While not easy, these steps are in your child’s best interest to get him or her the needed care to make progress and become a successful adult.
Have you used an educational advocate? Share about your experience in the comments below.