A program coordinated by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is training volunteer advocates to help teach parents how to work with educators on behalf of their children with special needs. The Volunteer Advocacy Project provides 40 hours of training in research-based methodology, special-education law, assistive technology, individualized education plans and other special-education topics. "The expectation is that the advocate will help parents prepare for future IEPs on their own," the program's director said. "They're trying to work themselves out of a job."

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