Parent Centers, comprised of Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs), provide training and assistance to the families of the nation’s 7 million children with disabilities. These are funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Every state has at least one PTI, and those with larger populations may have more. The CPRCs provide services to underserved families in smaller geographic areas. There are currently 106 Parent Centers in the United States.
Parent Centers serve families of children of all ages (birth to 26) and with all disabilities (physical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional). Parent Centers provide a variety of services including one-to-one support and assistance, workshops, publications, and websites. The majority of Parent Center staff members and board members are parents of children with disabilities so they are able to bring personal experience, expertise, and empathy when working with families.
Specifically, Parent Centers help families to:
- better understand their children’s disabilities and educational, developmental, and transitional needs
- communicate more effectively with special education, early intervention, and related professionals
- understand their rights and responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal special education law
- obtain appropriate services for their children through participation in the individualized education program (IEP) and individualized family service plan (IFSP) decision making process
- resolve disagreements and understand the benefits of alternative methods of dispute resolution
- connect with other local, state, and national resources that assist children with disabilities
Parent Centers work collaboratively to improve outcomes for children with disabilities. They collect and share data from their work experience that leads to improved practices in serving children and youth with disabilities and their families.