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National PTA Applauds Administration's Commitment to Strengthening Family Engagement in Special Education

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Heidi May Wilson, Media Relations Manager

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Aug. 13, 2015) — Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that nearly $14 million in grants will be awarded to states to operate parent training and information centers to assist families of children with disabilities. The centers are designed to promote effective education of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities by strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring they have meaningful opportunities to participate in their children’s education.

“National PTA has consistently advocated for federal investment in family engagement as it is proven to make a difference for all children, schools and communities,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “The association applauds the administration’s commitment to ensuring that family engagement remains a fundamental principle of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and that children with disabilities have access to education and services that will enable them to reach their full potential.”

With the grants, the parent training and information centers will provide parents with details and assistance on laws, policies and research-based education practices for children with disabilities. They also will inform parents how data can be used to guide instruction, how to interpret results from evaluations and assessments, and ways to effectively engage in school reform activities. The grants are being funded by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and authorized by the IDEA.

The parent training and information centers follow a similar approach as the Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRC) program established by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act-No Child Left Behind (ESEA-NCLB). Both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate recently passed bills that would reauthorize the ESEA-NCLB as well as reauthorize and improve the PIRC program as Statewide Family Engagement Centers. The Statewide Family Engagement Centers would provide states and districts with the capacity to support effective implementation and enhancement of family engagement policies, programs and activities that are proven to positively impact student achievement, behavior and attendance and increase graduation rates.

“Family engagement is at the core of children’s success and school improvement,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “National PTA remains committed to working with the administration and Congress to make sure investments continue to be provided that strengthen family engagement at all levels of education to support the achievement of every child, especially children with disabilities.”

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth.