Parents have a vested interest to assure the success of their children with disabilities. Asking for Help and Support
Better outcomes can be achieved by employing parents to provide parent services within educational systems. The most effective practice in the parent movement has been the building of national networks to disseminate information. Parents and professionals now have access to evidence based best practices for children with disabilities, nationally, through those networks. Center for Parent Information and Resources
Why are these networks of information not utilized more often? Why do educational agencies continue to rely on their own structure of district personnel to assist parents in their participation in educational planning, when there are federally-funded networks which are meant for that function? I believe that in many cases this is due to the perceived potential for conflict when parents are better informed. The irony is, though, that well-informed parents providing input in a collaborative manner results in the lessening of animosity, rather than the escalation of conflict.
Parents of children with disabilities remain the single largest untapped resource in public school systems. I believe this approach of welcoming and embracing parents of children with disabilities to act as resources is the answer to establishing long-lasting collaborative parent/school relationships and reducing conflict. The antiquated model of gathering resources in one location and having parents come to the resource has always restricted the availability of information to only those who manage to find the point of access, and the pertinent information is enormous in volume.
A parent’s involvement in disability issues is, unavoidably, an everyday part of their lives. With the vast wealth of information available to parents through the internet, parents are now able to research and categorize, finding resources, best practices and information that will benefit their children and consequently other children as well.
Once you become a parent of a child with a disability your world evolves to be centered on disability, and over time your peer group soon consists of other parents of children with disabilities – all of whom either have information or are seeking information.
It has been said that “Parents get their best information from other parents.” Congress has recognized this in the forming and funding of Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) nationally. PTIs projects can only be awarded to “Parent” organizations, defined as non-profits which are run by parents and staffed by parents. PTIs are funded by IDEA dollars, from the same source of money that school districts use to educate children with disabilities.
It’s only logical, then, that the IDEA-funded school district should be routinely disseminating contact information for their IDEA-funded Parent Training counterparts.