Becoming a BCEA
Board Certified Educational Advocate


Board Certified Education Advocates are trained by the National Special Education Advocacy Institute. BCEA have demonstrated the education, experience and high standards required by NSEAI including:

• possessing a minimum qualifying level of professional training of:
     120 hours of board approved curriculm
     30 hours of other professional training*
     100 hours of practicum*

• passing 12 modular examinations,

• experience serving multiple clients and worked in multiple school districts

• demonstrating expertise through membership in relevant associations, leadership positions, speaking engagements and books and articles published.

• pledging to adhere to the NSEAI PRACTICE ACT of Principles and Guidelines .

• providing families with the broadest and most informed choices for special education, and community based services for their child.

Why become a NSEAI - BCEA?

The creation of the NSEAI’s BCEA program was the first national effort designed to increase the recognition of and establish minimum professional educational standards for Special Education Advocates who work in private practice as consultants.  

It was in this spirit of professional development and public awareness, of the need for trained Special Education Advocates, that the NSEAI BCEA designation was born to recognize highly qualified Education Advocates.  BCEAs engage in assisting families through the special education maze and in coordination of needed community supports and services at the federal, state and local level. The goal, of both the board certification application and the 12 modular examinations, is to include those who have made and will continue to make a difference in the lives of those with educational & developmental disabilities.  BCEAs are recertified every 3 years on the basis of continuing education hours, and other professional activities.

Due to increasing specialization within the educational, health and community service fields, special education advocacy and disability case management have earned a SEPARATE position in the world of Advocacy, by addressing the highly unique needs of those children and adults with educational, developmental and mental health issues. 

Special Education Advocacy is a separate, specialized area of knowledge that requires cross training in wide and multiple bodies of knowledge (education, special education, law and clinical arenas)  that need to be maintained and updated regularly. It includes information about:

•    special education methodology, practices and services,
•    behavior health and management,
•    family and school dynamics,
•    disability awareness,
•    educational and clinical evaluation tools,
•    case management of community services and supports available from federal, state and
     local governments,
•    research based educational programming and methodology,
•    appropriate educational, psychological and health care evaluation referral,
•    health insurance and health care vs educational evaluations,
•    multiple federal and state regulations that address services to those children and adults
     with special needs,
•    neuro –psychology of children with developmental delays and learning disabilities,
•    educational need identification,
•    specially designed instruction,
•    IDEA and ADA and other federal and state laws that impact children with disabilities,
•    procedural safeguards,
•    assistive technology,
•    progress monitoring,
•    inter-agency cooperation and coordination
•    advanced advocacy and communication techniques,
•    resource development,
•    mental health supports,
•    inclusion supports and consulting,
•    transitional planning…

NSEAI’s mission is to improve the quality of expert advice by encouraging strong knowledgeable advocates through the NSEAI Board Certified  Education Advocate program.  Please join us as we give increased professionalism to the field of special education advocacy.

NSEAI Board Certified Education Advocates include the letters BCEA - –after their name as a mark of distinction and recognition.  It represents the Special Education Advocate’s commitment to providing accurate advice to clients from experience within the Special Education community.  It acknowledges that the Special Education Advocate has received a board approved curriculum and level of education that is comprehensive and formal, has agreed to a professional practice act of practice principles and guidelines, passed formal examinations and has a prescribed experience level and shown a commitment to the profession.

The BCEA certification gives clients the assurance that they are working with a trained Advocate who is committed to maintaining the highest quality of service to families and students.


•    Provides an expectation of a qualified* and ethical* special education support through
•    Establishes a national educational standard for Education Advocates.  
•    Recognizes Education Advocates who practice under a set of principles and
     who are knowledgeable about Education Advocacy.
•    Assures ongoing knowledge development and professional commitment.
•    Provides the public an organizational body from which to select a qualified Education


Board Certification is given and maintained by the NSEAI.  Levels of professional knowledge and expertise in specific areas will vary among providers based on additional experience and education outside of the Comprehensive Special Education Advocacy Training provided by NSEAI.   Members agree that NSEAI has the sole discretion to give or revoke board certification based on professional behaviors demonstrated. Members agree that the NSEAI Practice Act of  Principles and Guidelines will be followed to maintain certification after successfully completing the training program.  


Board certification promotes a standard for recognizing qualifications and validating a broad-based minimum knowledge requirement as the foundation for effective service in the field of special education advocacy. These standards aim to enhance service provision to people with educational and developmental disabilities who are seeking access to a free and appropriate education. The board certification program promotes minimum standards of professional practice in the field of Education Advocacy and is a source of pride for the BCEA.

Board Certification of any service provider, in any field, is the process by which a non-governmental agency or association validates an individual’s qualifications and knowledge in a defined functional area. Candidates for certification must meet specific requirements of eligibility and pass examinations.

BCEA Qualified Individuals – having taken a course of study that sets a minimum national standard of knowledge for Education Advocates which did not exist until March 2008, with NSEAI's curriculum.

Ethical - Education Advocates agreeing to conduct their private consulting businesses using the NSEAI Practice Act of Guidelines and Principles for the Education Advocate.

*dependent upon level of board certification

NSEAI – National Special Education Advocacy Institute - is the educational division of nCARE – National Center for Autism Resources and Education - a  non-profit institution. nCARE has  individual state chapters and addresses in Washington, DC and Wayne, PA.
NSEAI and nCARE are not affiliated with any other organization.