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Family Educator Partnership

Brooke Gassman

Family and Educator Partnership Coordinator

Statewide Family & Educator Partnership Overview

Iowa Department of Education

The FEP, started in 1984, provides a unique opportunity for parents and educators to build partnerships to improve educational programs for children and young adults with special needs. Previously, the program was known as Parent and Educator Connection (PEC). Modeling an effective collaborative partnership, the FEP is staffed by a family coordinator who brings the perspective of a parent with a child having special needs and an educator coordinator who brings the perspective of an educator. Each of Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) employs these staff to guide the program within the AEA. They collaborate directly with parents, local education agencies, and agencies outside the educational system. 

The goal of the Iowa Family & Educator Partnership is to support successful outcomes in the areas of living, learning and working for individuals with disabilities ages 0-21, the Family & Educator Partnership will operate within a tiered system of supports across Iowa with intentional coordination, consistency, and continuity through partnerships between families and educators.

FEP Resources and Services for Families and Educators

  • Facilitate understanding of special education, including family/student rights and responsibilities
  • Support families and educators through personal, phone, email contact, including attending Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)/IEP meetings
  • Assistance preparing for IFSP/IEP meeting
  • Information and support regarding transition from IFSP to IEP and post secondary transition
  • Support communication between home and school to enhance family and educator partnerships
  • Link family and educators to services within the AEA and the community
  • Provide information and understanding regarding educational processes

Family and Educator Partnership Brochure

Special Education Resources for Families

Community Resources for Families of Children with Disabilities

Financial Assistance


Medicaid is a program similar to an individual insurance plan for low-income individuals, families and children in Iowa. To be eligible for Medicaid, a child or family must qualify for the Family Investment Program (FIP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI),  Medically Needy Program, hawk-i, Foster Care Services, Subsidized Adoption, Long-Term Care, Medicaid for Kids with Special Needs or one of the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers. Medicaid covers a wide range of medical services, medical equipment, medication, dental and other health-related services. Families can apply through the Department of Human Services (DHS). For more information on how to apply, visit DHS "How to Apply." An Income Maintenance Worker may be able assist with the application. 

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program of the Social Security Administration. SSI provides monthly benefits to individuals with disabilities who have limited income and resources.  Individuals who are eligible for SSI are also eligible for Medicaid. A child under the age of 18 can qualify if he or she has a physical or mental condition, or combination of conditions, that meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits. If under age 18, Social Security also considers the income and resources of family members living in the same household.  For more information visit SSI Benefits for Children with Disabilities.

Children at Home Funding

The Children at Home program is designed to help families secure the services and supports that you identify as necessary in helping your child remain at home.  Financial assistance is intended to enable families to obtain services and supports which are not met by other programs.  

ARK Advocates

ARK Advocates provides financial assistance and an equipment lending library to families in and around Dubuque County.  More information about their services can be found here.  The financial assistance form can be found here.

Home & Community Based Waivers

The Iowa Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) are Medicaid programs that give families choices about how and where their child receives services. Iowa has several Home and Community Based Waivers that benefit children with disabilities, these include the Brain Injury Waiver, Intellectual Disabilities Waiver, Health and Disability Waiver and Children's Mental Health Waiver.  Waivers are available to adults as well.  It is important families apply early, as wait lists can be lengthy.

Disability Specific Resources

Brain Injury 

Brain Injury Alliance

The Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa offers help for people with brain injury and their families, caregivers, and community navigate medical and general life challenges after a brain injury. They offer support in coping with the issues of living with brain injury and connect families with the services and supports they may need.  


Iowa Regional Autism Program

The Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program (RAP) provides community-based clinical consultation, multidisciplinary care planning recommendations, and family to family support for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. 

  • RAP team members who work with families include advanced registered nurse practitioners, registered nurses and family navigators.
  • They use standardized tools to identify children at risk for ASD and help families find diagnostic services.
  • RAP teams also help families access community-based services and supports to help meet their needs and goals.

RAP Supporting Materials

Autism Speaks Housing and Residential Toolkit

  • Provides an overview of housing options
  • Teaches families about the supports and services often needed by adults with autism
  • Describes options for funding
  • Creates a structure to help families consider plan for the types of services and supports needed
  • Helps expand opportunities to meet the housing needs of people with autism

The toolkit can be found here.


Mental Health Services

Family & Educator Partnership Information Sheets

Below are supports that provided coordinated care for families of children with mental health.  Each information sheet gives an overview of the the support and how to get started. 

Additional Resources

Mobile Crisis Services (Currently available in Delaware and Dubuque Counties)

Mobile crisis services are available 24/7 including nights, weekends, and holidays through the crisis hotline. A team of trained staff can be dispatched to a person of any age in crisis.  The Mobile Crisis team is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide face-to-face care on an immediate basis. When dispatched, the Mobile Crisis Counselors meet the individual at their home, work, school, or any other location in the community within 1 hour, providing the individual in crisis with the care they need when they need it the most. If a family is in immediate need and could benefit from talking to someone, they can call 1-855-800-1239 and ask for a counselor to come to their location.

Disability Services for Youth Transitioning to Adulthood

Family & Educator Partnership Information Sheets

Additional Resources

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program of the Social Security Administration. SSI provides monthly benefits to individuals with disabilities who have limited income and resources and can be a support for transition-aged students.

Helpful Resources:

Guardianship and Conservatorship

Parents who think their child may need help with the responsibilities of adulthood, should consider ways to assist their son or daughter. Guardianship and/or conservatorship are only two considerations. There may be other more appropriate and less restrictive options. Families should research their options a few months before their child turns 18. Families may want to consult an attorney who specializes in this area.

National Parent Center on Transition and Employment

PACER’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment builds on PACER’s decades of experience provides assistance and support to parents, youth, and professionals on transition topics. This site is has videos, hand-outs and more on postsecondary education, employment, and life in the community.

Iowa College Aid

For students with disabilities, knowing their rights and responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of a college or university is important when requesting the support they need to learn and work successfully.  The Iowa College Aid site has a listing of Disability Support Services Contacts for community colleges and universities, as well as community colleges.  The site also has a resources on requesting accommodations and more.

Statewide Disability and General Family Support Resources

Iowa Compass

Iowa Compass connects people with disabilities and other health-related needs to services and supports in their communities throughout Iowa.  Click here to find out about services and resources near you.

Iowa Family Support Network

The State Resource Directory is designed for use by parents and professionals to locate family support resources statewide. Our goal is to help navigate the sometimes overwhelming amount of information on the internet and provide parents and providers a way to link with family support services and resources. The directory includes resources related to education, child care, therapy, financial services, health, parenting program and other family support services. Click here to find services and resources near you.

Procedural Safeguards for Families

The Notice of Procedural Safeguards: Rights of Parents of Students with Disabilities explains the specific rights and responsibilities of the parent in the special education process. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEA 2004) requires school districts to give parents the Procedural Safeguards only one time a year, except upon: initial referral or on request for evaluation; the first occurrence of the filing of a due process hearing complaint; or upon request by a parent.

Post-Secondary Transition Planning

Age of Majority Information

The age of majority is when your child obtains the rights of any Iowa citizen and is legally responsible for his or her own decision, including educational decision. In Iowa, your child reaches the age of majority when he or she turns 18 or gets married. If your child under 18 is tried, convicted, and sentenced as an adult and is confined in an adult correctional facility, your child’s rights to make educational decisions transfer during the period of incarceration. Question and answer sheets regarding Age of Majority are below:

Addition Age of Majority resources and materials in other languages may be found on the Iowa Department of Education Secondary Transition Page.


Employability Skills

Employment First:  A Family Perspective - Contains an overview of Employment First (E1st).  It is based on the idea that “Employment is the first priority and preferred outcome of publicly funded services for people with disabilities.” (Iowa APSE) It may sound like another “new thing” but really it isn’t. Instead, it is a way for Iowa services to increase integrated work options for Iowans with disabilities. E1st is one way Iowa can meet requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a law supporting competitive and integrated work experiences and employment for ALL citizens.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act:  What it Means for Iowa Youth, Families and Schools - Contains an overview and guidance on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act.


Graduation Guidance for Families and IEP Teams

Graduation Information and Guidance for Families - Contains an overview of the changes related to graduation for students receiving special education services, along with information about how this will impact students and actions that families might take as they are learning more about this change.  Check out this new video for families.

Graduation Guidance for IEP Teams - This document provides an overview of state changes to graduation requirements for students eligible for special education and provides considerations for local districts and IEP teams.


Substitute Decision- Making

Guardianship Video - This brief video gives an overview of guardianship and other substitute decision making options for families of youth with disabilities to consider.

Guardianship and Conservatorship in Iowa Issues in Substitute Decision Making - This manual gives an overview of common questions families may have about the various substitute decision-making options available in Iowa.


Secondary Transition Fact Sheets and Guide



Additional Resources for Families

Parent Toolkit

Parent Toolkit is a one-stop resource developed with parents in mind. It’s produced by NBC News Learn and supported by Pearson and includes information about almost every aspect of your child’s development, because they're all connected. Healthy, successful children can excel in many areas – in the classroom, on the court, and in their relationships with peers and adults. Their resources also cover important topics for navigating life after high school.

Parent Toolkit Link

Understanding the Every Student Succeeds Act Parent Guide

This guide aims to help parents understand the flexibility provided to States and school districts in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a landmark Federal education law.  

ESSA Parent Guide Link

New - Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Family Site

Family engagement is integral to education efforts aimed at enabling students to achieve their full potential. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) supports such efforts by funding state and local initiatives to implement evidence-based practices in classrooms to ensure that all students are set up for future success.

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Link


Get the latest updates

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RESPECT Training is being offered for families and educators in Dubuque. Stipends, credit and sub pay are available.

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The Surrogate Parent Guidance Document is new as of March 2019.  An explanation of the surrogate parent process and the document can be found here.

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The Notice of Procedural Safeguards:  Rights of Parents of Students with Disabilities Manual was updated in November of 2018.  The new version and additional information are contained here.

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