The PACER Center was founded in the year 1977 by parent who had children with disabilities, as well as advocates, to assist other parents and families who faced the same challenges. PACER staff members are largely parents of children with disabilities who work in coalition with 18 other disability organizations. The centers offer parents and families more than 40 specialty projects that have been created to give help to families of children with disabilities related to a number of issues, to include assistive technology, special health needs, bullying prevention, transition issues, inclusion for children with disabilities, and many other things.
The PACER Center's overall mission is to, 'Expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life of children and young adults with ALL disabilities and their families, based on the concept of parents helping parents.”
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Parent Centers are comprised of both Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRC's) and Parent Training and Information Centers (PTI's). The centers give training and assistance to families of America's approximately 7 million children with disabilities. Parent Centers receive funding through the United States Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), under the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Every state in America has at least one PTI; states with larger populations might have more than one. Community Parent Resource Centers give services to families that are underserved who are located in smaller areas. Overall, there are 106 Parent Centers in America.
The Parent Centers provide services to families with children of all ages from birth to the age of 26, as well as children who experience all forms of disabilities, to include behavioral, cognitive, and emotional. Parent Centers provide families with a number of services, to include websites, workshops, publications, and one-on-one assistance and support. Most of the staff members and board members at Parent Centers are parents of children with disabilities themselves and are able to bring their own personal experiences, expertise, and empathy with them as they work with families of children with disabilities. Parent Centers assist families with:
Parent Centers across America work collaboratively in order to improve the outcomes for children who experience forms of disabilities. The centers collect and share information from their work experiences, leading to improvements in their practices with serving children with disabilities and their families.
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The Regional Parent Technical Assistance Centers (RPTAC's) assist Parent Centers by increasing their capacity to serve families with children who experience forms of disabilities. The focus of the RPTAC's is on helping families to understand general and special education laws, as well as evidence-based practices, and to actively participate in decision-making and planning concerning services and supports for early intervention, the child's education, and their transition into adult life.
Regional Parent Centers provide activities and resources that are designed to give the Parent Centers tools that are effective, as well as strategies, in order to meet the needs of families with children with disabilities. Every RPTAC has a variety of technical assistance services that are proactive and are tailored to the needs and strengths of the Parent Centers located in their particular region.
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The PACER Center has a project known as the, 'ALLIANCE National PTAC,' that is a nonprofit, national parent center – it is located in Minneapolis. The ALLIANCE National Parent Technical Assistance Center (NPTAC) gives Parent Centers, Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRC's), as well as Training and Information Centers (PTI's) high-quality materials and resources. One of the main goals of the ALLIANCE National PTAC is the building of the capacity of Parent Centers with the goal of improving results for children with disabilities between the ages of newborn and 26 who live in not only rural areas, but urban and suburban ones as well who are underserved or underrepresented.
The ALLIANCE NPTAC has an innovative model of support that reflects evidence-based practices and addresses the needs of Parent Centers while promoting systems change and encouraging parent-professional partnerships. The organization's project activities are based upon a logic model; one that focuses on significant educational initiatives, to include the State Performance Plan (SPP) indicators. With training events, strategic planning, product development, businesses partnerships, technology, as well as evaluation being offered through the ALLIANCE NPTAC that are designed to meet the needs of Parent Centers, support for the development of positive outcomes for children with disabilities is a beneficial outcome.
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Links to Additional Information:
“Improving Outcomes for Children with Disabilities and their Families”
Parent Centers provide training, information and assistance to families of children with all disabilities ages birth to 26 years and the professionals who work with them.
This page has a clickable map presenting the separate regions in America, along with a listing of the Parent Centers located within each of those regions. The listings are also available in printable PDF and spreadsheet PDF formats.
"The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts."
"The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities."