Tips on How to Get a 504 Plan for Your Child

Why this plan can help your child succeed in school

Happy mother and daughter reading book in bedroom
Credit: Hero Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Many parents have heard of 504 plans but are confused about how to obtain one for their child. Get the facts on 504 plans and how they can help children with special needs succeed in school with this review.

What Exactly Is a 504 Plan?

Perhaps your child has a learning challenge such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that does not qualify him for an individualized education plan (IEP).

Then, a 504 plan might be appropriate. Included in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which bans discrimination against students with disabilities, 504 plans 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 students considered "disabled" by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are broader than the students eligible for IEPs. 

Section 504 does not list which disabilities are included specifically but students with long-term disabilities rather than short term impairments, such as broken bones, qualify. Students with concentration problems or those that restrict a significant life activity qualify as well.

These students should have records of the impairment. The school must also assess the child to determine how her disability affects her performance in school.

The parent can request that the school evaluate their child if the school personnel haven't already suggested such an evaluation. The school can consider diagnoses from doctors, test results, comments from teachers, parents and others to determine if the child has a disability that necessitates a 504 plan.

The Protocol for Obtaining a 504 Plan

The procedure for getting a 504 plan is similar to the one for getting an IEP. Parents, however, should heed good advice about requesting the plan and learn the best way to prepare for meetings regarding the plan. Parents also 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 not be seated next to 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 about monitoring student progress.

Continue Reading