If your child has a disability and you don't know where to turn - or how to navigate the "system" - the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center, based in Niantic, can help.
"We are statewide, disability-wide for families, students, providers who work with people with disabilities or suspected disabilities," explains Sherri O'Neal of CPAC, a federally funded parent training information center. "We try to help them understand how the process is supposed to work, what the federal law expects, how Connecticut regulations or statutes interpret the federal law and how schools and families can work together to help their child get an appropriate education."
The group is hosting an advocacy training series - called Next STEPs - in New Britain in September. According to CPAC: "This free eight-session intensive series is designed to help parents and professionals gain the skills and knowledge necessary for them to be effective members at the Planning and Placement Team meeting (PPT) as well as prepare them for a variety of roles at the school, district, regional or state level."
There will be 8 trainings during the month of September - on Tuesday nights from 6:00 - 9:00pm and Thursday nights from 6:30 - 8:00pm.
"This particular workshop is actually a big deal....this is funded through the state Department of Education. It is a specific, intensive advocacy training and we haven't done it in a few years. We have re-worked the curriculum," says O'Neal who hopes to reach parents that feel overwhelmed, confused and alone. "The key to being an effective advocate is not necessarily having all the answers but understanding the resources behind the answers because nobody has all the answers...having resources and connections to help in figuring out what to do next is a huge support for families and providers."
Call 1-800-445-2722 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply. The deadline is Monday, August 17th. Click here for more information.