Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency

Welcoming back students on an IEP

Please feel free to share this in your communications with families in your district.

Back-to-school feels anything but ordinary this year. After the coronavirus created an abrupt end to the school year, this fall finds families in the midst of making decisions about how and where their child will be learning. Over 4,440 K-12 students in Prairie Lakes AEA are identified as eligible for Special Education services. Once identified, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed that outlines the supports and services needed for that student to make progress in school. Each program is designed to meet a student’s unique needs.

The Family and Educator Partnership (FEP) at Prairie Lakes AEA is a resource available for families of students who have an IEP. As schools reopen and students are welcomed back into the building for learning, here are some tips for a smoother transition for students and their families:

  • Reach out to your child’s IEP team. Talk about what’s gone well for your child while learning from home. Share your concerns and ideas as you work together to create a plan for your child. Not all kids react well to change, and you may have concerns about how your child will navigate the new safety measures. This year, maybe more than ever, it’s important to talk with the team that supports your child. 
  • Contact the Family and Educator Partnership (FEP) at Prairie Lakes AEA. The FEP is staffed by two Family Coordinators who bring the perspective as each is a parent with a child that has special needs. Whether a phone call or email, the Family Coordinators provide a listening ear and can help connect school, family, AEA, and community resources.  A Family Coordinator can also attend Individual Family Services Plan (IFSP)/Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings with you. Call 866-540-3858 and ask to speak to a Family Coordinator.
  • Remember to take time to take care of yourself. As the saying goes, “You can’t fill from an empty cup.” Listen to your body and pay attention to what it might be telling you. Find a few minutes each day to focus solely on you and your needs. That could look like enjoying a cup of tea or taking a walk to the end of the block. It might look like writing a thank you note, or calling a friend for a two-minute check-in. If you utilize social media, be mindful of how those spaces impact your attitude. 

The Family and Educator Partnership serves the 38 public school districts, and 11 accredited, nonpublic schools within the 14-counties that comprise Prairie Lakes AEA. Family Coordinators are Deb Betz and McKaylee Heuton. For more information, visit the website at www.plaea.org

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