Services for English Learning Families

Almost 10% of students in public schools are English learners, some of whom may benefit from special education due to learning differences. The United States Department of Education provides fact sheets in multiple languages to share information with students and families about school responsibilities, rights, and resources for families and students. The Department of Education also offers free language assistance services.  

English learning families are entitled to translation and interpretation services to participate in their children's education. Forms, assessments, and relevant documents should be translated for families to overview before IEP meetings. Families should inform school officials of any translation or interpretation needs as early as possible to ensure all documents are translated before meetings, and throughout the school year. Translation and interpretation services help families communicate their needs and goals for their children, which often improves school partnerships and leads to more meaningful educational outcomes.  

English learning families may also benefit from cultural liaisons. Cultural liaisons are multicultural community members who work with school districts to bridge cultural and linguistic barriers between schools and families. These partnerships provide an additional level of community support to families, while improving communication with schools. Facilitated IEP meetings are another strategy to support family engagement. 

Resources for English Language Learners 


For Educators & Local Educational Agencies: 



Hurley, J. J., Clark, D. W., Fonseca-Foster, K. A., Pyne, S. K., & Warren, R. A. (2017). Collaboration during IEP and IFSP Meetings in a Refugee Resettlement Community: Lessons from Cultural Liaisons. 12. 

Lo, L. (2012). Demystifying the IEP Process for Diverse Parents of Children with Disabilities. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 44(3), 14–20. 

Mueller, T. G., & Vick, A. M. (2019). An Investigation of Facilitated Individualized Education Program Meeting Practice: Promising Procedures That Foster Family–Professional Collaboration. Teacher Education and Special Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, 42(1), 67–81. 

The UCSF | UC Berkeley Schwab Dyslexia & Cognitive Diversity Center does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of external resources. Sharing available information is not endorsement of viewpoints expressed from external sources, nor is it a substitute for advice from medical professionals.