Undivided Resources
Parent Question
How do I know if my child needs an IEP or a 504 Plan?

How do I know if my child needs an IEP or a 504 Plan?

Published: Mar. 15, 2022Updated: Dec. 14, 2023

Which document your child will most benefit from depends on their unique needs. According to education advocate Lisa Carey, a 504 is sufficient when a child needs support accessing the learning environment or content. A 504 plan will typically only cover accommodations and, in some cases, services. A child who needs either specialized academic instruction or to be in a special education classroom will probably need an IEP. Special education attorney Grace Clark tells us, “...an IEP does provide more as far as protections for the child. So, generally speaking, if you qualify for an IEP, you would get everything you could get from the 504, plus other things — it’s more comprehensive.” If you’re unsure whether your child needs a 504 plan or an IEP, Clark advises the parent to request that their child be assessed, which will provide information about the type of supports their child needs. From there, the parent and school can discuss whether an IEP or 504 would be more appropriate.

For more information, see our article, What’s the Difference Between a 504 Plan and an IEP?

Join the Undivided Community to get more resources like this in your inbox


Promise Image
Each piece of content has been rigorously researched, edited, and vetted to bring you the latest and most up-to-date information. Learn more about our content and research process here.
A Navigator is your Partner at each turn
Every Undivided Navigator has years of experience supporting families raising kids with disabilities or parenting their own. Partner with an Undivided Navigator for a free Kickstart to learn first hand what support feels like!
Expert-driven content, guidance, and solutions.
Member events and office hours with real answers, plus access to our private parents' group.
Priority to begin a free Kickstart of the Undivided Support System with a dedicated Navigator.
“It’s so helpful to have one place that you can go to get many answers.”–Leeza Woodbury, with Navigator Kelly since 2020
*Currently offering Navigator Kickstarts to residents of California