A critical tool for you, in your role as your child’s advocate, is a well-organised home filing system.
On this page:
An important way to reduce stress
Over the years, you will probably you need to advocate for your child many times. This will be much easier if you get organised, put things into files, and keep your own records of important events. This helps you find information quickly when you need it, which makes dealing with new challenges much less stressful.
Getting organised comes more easily to some people than others! Many parents and carers think of this aspect of their role as being a ‘manager’ of their child’s supports and services. It’s like a job. If getting organised is not a strength for you, consider whether someone in your family or community could help you get organised, and set up good systems to make it easier for you to stay that way.
Keeping good, organised records will also enable you to look back and reflect on your role as your child’s advocate. When new challenges arise, you can think about what has worked well in the past, and what you might do differently next time.
Sara: “I think its also good to write everything down as you’re going along, because there will come a time when you need to write the letter, and if you’ve already got it written down, then it’s much easier to formulate what you want to say.”
James: “We’ve got our own files on Daisy that are quite extensive. So I think it’s really important, just for your ongoing use, keep your files together about your child in the one place. And yeah, document as much as you can. I think that’s important because it really helps in putting together a strong case for a particular problem.”
What could you include in your files?
There are many ways to get organised. Some people use three-ring binders with plastic slips and dividers, or a large notebook and hanging files in a box or filing cabinet. Some people like to store information electronically, but remember that electronic data can be lost. It’s especially important print out email correspondence, rather than using your email system to store important information.
Here are some ideas for what you could include in your files:
- Materials that relate to your child’s school and education needs, including: transition reports, school reports, planning documents, minutes of SSG meetings and copies of correspondence with the school, and tips and ideas about how to support your child’s learning.
- Materials relate to your child’s health, diagnosis or support needs, including: information about your child’s diagnosis, referrals, receipts, information from Medicare, reports from specialists, requests for assessment, results from assessment processes, and information from disability services or support groups.
- Materials related to your child’s funding and supports, including: applications, supporting materials, correspondence with the school, DET, the Department of Human Services, and information from disability support and advocacy organizations.
- Paper trails of any concerns or complaints you raise with the school or other organizations (see below), including: letters, emails, supporting documentation from specialists, minutes of meetings and notes of any important conversations.
- Notes about any important meetings, discussions, appointments or phone calls, with details such as: the date, the name and title of who you spoke with, contact details, what was discussed, what was decided and any agreed follow up actions.