Supporting Parents of Children and Youth with Disabilities

Access Angle: Supporting Parents of Children and Youth with Disabilities

By: Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor


Parents and guardians of children and young adults with disabilities taking an active role in the special education process and as a member of the Individual Education Program (IEP) is extremely important! Learning about how their child’s disability affects their participation in school and in the community helps parents to be more informed decision makers for their child.

For many families of children with disabilities, finding information, when they need it, related to services and supports can be overwhelming and sometimes difficult.

In this Access Angle segment, I want to spotlight a fantastic resource for parents and families of children with disabilities. Across the nation, parent organizations are available to support families of children with disabilities as well as young adults with disabilities. These parent organizations may operate differently from one another and from state to state. However, there is one consistent purpose, and that is to support and assist parents with resources, information, and training to be the most informed they can be as they effectively participate in their child’s education and development.

According to the Center for Parent Information & Resources website, there are nearly 100 Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) in the US and Territories. You can find the PTI in your state by using their Find Your Parent Center page at

In California, there are six PTIs, these centers serve parents of children ages birth to 26 years old. In addition to the PTIs, California also has over 40 Family Resource Centers (FRCs) which are funded to serve ages birth to 3, and 32 Family Empowerment Centers (FECs) funded to serve ages 3 to 22.

I have personal experience with these centers in California as my family has accessed them for supports and services over many years. My mom, Robin, served as a Resource Specialist at one of the FRCs in Sacramento. She worked there for many years before moving on to a California Department of Education state training and technical assistance project, which supports and provides assistance to the FECs and aspects of Family Engagement. The last couple of years have been exciting for California in relation to the Family Empowerment Centers. FECs were originally enacted through legislation in 2001, and by 2006, there were 14 centers serving 27 of California’s 58 counties. There was not enough funding to have a center in all FEC regions of the state. Sixteen years later, additional funding was allocated to expand the establishment of the FECs to the rest of the state. In the last couple of years, 18 new FECs have received funding, which brings the total to 32 centers serving all regions of the state! Learn more about the FECs at the Seeds of Partnership webpage related to Family Empowerment Centers. If you are in California, I encourage you to reach out to a center if you are looking for this type of resource and support. They are mostly staffed by parents of children with disabilities, so they have first-hand experience!

Learn more about the type of supports and services offered in your state by accessing the parent centers. They are a great place to start when seeking resources and support for you, as a family, or families you serve. If you are an educator or a support provider, reach out to explore what collaborative partnerships can be made. I am excited to spread the word about these agencies and the wonderful work they do each day!

Let us know: Did you find this article interesting? Would you like to read more of these types of articles? Do you have a topic you would like to see highlighted? Contact me through email Gabe Ryan I’d love to know how you’ve used information from the School Health Access Angle segments.


Posted in Access Angle Segment