Event connects parents of children with disabilities to future special educators

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Exceptional Children's Assistance Center (ECAC), in collaboration with the Cato College of Education’s Department of Special Education and Child Development, recently presented a daylong free training for parents of children with disabilities. The workshop, “Parents as Leaders: Taking the Next Step–Telling Your Story,” was led by Beverly Roberts, Aimee Combs and Rowena Barker of the ECAC along with Professor Donna Sacco from the Cato College.

The program helps prepare family members to share their stories with future special education teachers.

“When families of children with disabilities share their knowledge and experiences with future educators, those educators are more likely to work collaboratively with families later in their careers,” Sacco said. “That partnership between special educators and families is critical to success.”

The family members also use this process of telling their stories to present to other professionals in school districts or before school boards and other government agencies, according to the hosts. Their ultimate goal is to improve services, outcomes and quality of life for students with disabilities and their families. 

Attendees said they valued hearing other people’s stories, learning that they were not alone and realizing that each family had different but relatable stories.

The ECAC provided breakfast, lunch, mileage reimbursement and stipends for daycare to parents who attended the workshop. The North Carolina State Improvement Project and Exceptional Children Division North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provided program funding.

Photo: Beverly Roberts, ECAC, right, provides training to parents of students with disabilities about telling their own stories.