How to Get a 504 Plan for Your Child

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Many parents have heard of 504 plans but are confused about how to obtain one for their child. These plans identify accommodations a child with a disability needs to fully participate in the classroom. Get the facts on 504 plans, how to apply for one, and how it can help a child with special needs succeed in school.

What Is a 504 Plan?

Perhaps your child has a learning challenge such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that isn't one that qualifies him for an individualized education plan (IEP). A 504 plan might be appropriate in this case. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which bans discrimination against students with disabilities, includes 504 plans as a way to help students participate in school just as they would if they didn't have a learning disability or disorder.

The plan demonstrates how changes to the school or classroom may remove obstacles for these students. These children normally spend the entire day in a mainstream classroom rather than in special education classes. The definition of students considered "disabled" by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is broader than that for students eligible for IEPs. Section 504 does not list which disabilities are included specifically but rather notes it is for students with long-term disabilities rather than short-term.

The Protocol for Obtaining a 504 Plan

Similar to getting an IEP, parents can request that the school evaluate their child if personnel from the school haven't already suggested such an evaluation. The school can consider diagnoses from doctors, test results, and comments from teachers, parents, and others to determine if the child has a disability that necessitates a 504 plan. Parents should prepare for meetings regarding the plan and need to know how to report problems with the plan.

Before parents can obtain a 504 plan for their special needs child, they must first get a team to assess their child, decide with federal laws apply to their child's disability, and establish a plan based on those findings. The plan should be tailored to your child's needs and have provisions to measure your child's progress in the classroom each school year. There should be documentation of your child's progress as well.

The Information Included in the Plan

In addition to the information listed above, the 504 plan should also include the services or accommodations the child will receive. For example, the 504 plan of a child with ADHD might specify that the student is seated away from doors, windows, or other sources of potential distractions. The plan should also include the person responsible for overseeing and executing the plan, individualized instruction the student needs or services such as therapy or counseling.

While 504 plans share some similarities with IEPs, they are not as intricate and do not list the yearly goals the child should meet, even if they do contain provisions for monitoring student progress.

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