There are two basic components of the system:
Reference: This component includes all information that is current and may be helpful/necessary at key times (e.g. IEP meetings, new evaluation). Examples of documents include the current IEP, current evaluations, and current progress reports.
Archive: This component includes all information that you should keep but don’t need to quickly reference.
The Reference System
You will need:
- One 3 inch, loose leaf, 3-ring binder or a portable file case
- 10 notebook dividers (clear tab if possible) or 10 file folders
- 3 different colored pens (or one pen)- you may chose to print the labels instead of handwriting them
- 3-whole punch
- One loose leaf folder or an additional file folder
- Documentation for the current academic year (You may find it helpful to run the year based on the calendar as opposed to the IEP, replacing the IEP when needed. For example, some children have an IEP running from November to November even though the academic year begins in August/September).
- Current IEP
- Most recent school and private therapy evaluations
- Progress reports and report cards for school and private therapies
- Any current notes or other paper work (see “What Documents Should I Keep?” section)
- Any current funding source documentation
The following list is of section headings. Write/print one per tab. You will see a one letter prefix for each section: S= School, T= Therapy, M= Medical, paralleling the above section. Use a different color for each section.
T-Home Program (when applicable)
Insert tabs into the dividers, or if using files, place file labels on the folders
If using a 3-ring notebook, make sure all documentation has been punched with the 3-whole punch.
As you move through your stack of paperwork, sort documents behind the corresponding divider (or in the corresponding folder).
Place your now categorized and organized stack of dividers and paperwork into the notebook (or the files into the file case)
The folder is to keep Tricare and funding source documentation.
The Archival System
You will need:
- One Hanging “Box Bottom” File Pocket (at least 3 inches wide) for each year since your child has been diagnosed.
- Pen or use your printer
- Clear tabs and inserts (should have come with the hanging file folders)
- Documentation and paperwork since your child’s diagnosis
- Something in which to place the hanging pocket files (e.g. file cabinet, file box, etc.)
Label each file pocket with one academic year (e.g. 2007-08)
Begin sorting through the paperwork you’ve accumulated since your child’s diagnosis. Place each document in the corresponding year’s file pocket. In future years, your system will be even more organized.
In future years, you will be able to lift the documents from the reference system (leaving the dividers in the notebook) and place them in a new file pocket. The archival system is a bit cruder than the reference system, but you won’t be accessing it with nearly as much frequency.
When your child receives an updated evaluation, place the old evaluation in the file pocket year that corresponds with the evaluation date (i.e. an evaluation completed in April 2006 will go in the archive file labeled 2006-07.)