Navigating Special Education and the IEP/504 Process

Do you have a child receiving special education services or one that you think may need these services? In this podcast, we talk about navigating this process. Our guests will be Lisa Eisenberg and Gaile Osborne. Lisa Eisenberg is a social worker, education advocate, and consultant. She is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, an organization whose goal is to secure high-quality educational services for all and to promote excellence in advocacy. Gaile Osborne is the Executive Director of Foster Family Alliance, the foster, kinship, and adoptive parent association in North Carolina. She has her masters in special education with certifications in five areas, including emotional disabilities. Gaile and her husband are parents of children adopted from foster care and have fostered over 28 children. Foster Family Alliance provides educational advocacy support for NC foster, adoptive, and kinship families.

In this episode, we cover:

  • What language is preferred: special education, exceptional children education, or something else?
  • What laws govern special education?
  • What are the most common acronyms that parents will see, and what do they mean?
    • IEPs
    • 504s
    • LRE
    • SDI
    • OHI
  • How does trauma impact a child’s ability to learn? 
  • How can you tell the difference between the impact of trauma from a learning disability or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
  • What are the signs that a child needs to have an educational assessment?
  • What is involved with an educational assessment?
  • What are the first steps that a parent or caregiver should take to get an educational assessment? 
  • What is the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan? Which one provides the most protection and accommodations for the child?
  • What accommodations should parents and caregivers be aware of that they can ask to be included in either the IEP or 504 plan?
  • What can foster/kin parents do if they believe the child in their care needs to be assessed? What are their legal rights?
  • Are they allowed to be in the IEP or 504 meeting?
  • Can they directly influence the IEP or 504? 
  • How can foster or kinship parent be of the most help when working with a child with learning disabilities or other disabilities? 
  • Tips for Parents and Caregivers when a child is struggling academically in school.


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Music Credit: Michael Ashworth

Podcast Producer: Megown SoundWorks

Image Credit: Katerina Holmes