Do you have a Parent Mentor to help families in your district?
As we return to a new normal more and more families are facing academic challenges and districts are searching for a way to help families. In Ohio we have a robust system of family support personnel that is trained and supported by the Office of Exceptional Child, the State Support team and by The Ohio State Family Engagement center. Parent Mentors and parent support personnel work in the district to support the families in navigating the special education process. They are a benefit to districts because they can problem solve with the family before a concern arises and work through the IEP before the meeting in order to ensure that the family understands and is able to participate as a team member during the meeting. Parent Mentors across the state help families navigate the complicated world of special education by helping them understand what each section for the IEP means and where additional concerns could be discussed during the meeting, making a more enjoyable experience for everyone. Parent Mentors are also available to families that need help connecting to community resources or support for their children.
The Parent Mentor project started as a grant for districts to hire a parent of a child with a disability that could help other parents through the process and help connect the families with community supports. The project has grown over the years and now includes both districts that receive the grant and districts that choose to self fund a parent mentor in order to support their families. In region 13 we currently have 11 districts in our region that have a dedicated staff member that is there to support families in understanding the unique processes in special education and their roles on the IEP team.
Parent Mentors receive high quality training through the department of education and The Ohio State University free of charge in order to stay up to date on the resources and initiatives that are in effect. They are also supported by their local State Support Team to problem solve local concerns and to hold monthly Parent Advisory Councils.
Many families have questions about when their child might need more support and how to advocate for their child. A parent mentor is the perfect support for every districts! Having a parent mentor in your district can help to increase the family involvement and decrease the number of families that feel they are not being heard by the district. It also ensures that the correct information is being given to the families about district policies and procedures.
Any district can receive the support of the parent mentor program. To find out more about the Parent Mentor project check out their website: https://parentmentor.osu.edu/ or contact me: Megan Horstmeier firstname.lastname@example.org