As children begin a new school year, the Parent Information Center of Delaware (PIC) is helping parents navigate special-education services.
PIC will host four free workshops in October, at the Frankford Public Library. Parents can learn to be good advocates for their children in the areas of special education and related services.
“It’s a whole new world, yes. We have to be very compassionate, because we get a lot of parents who are upset, who are sometimes angry or just unsure of themselves,” said Tina Andrews, project coordinator. “We just really support the parents … so they have all the information they need to make good decisions.”
Parents can attend any, or all, of the programs. Free sessions will be hosted on Tuesdays in October, from 6 to 8 p.m.:
• Oct. 9 — “Eligibility for Special Education” covers the educational evaluation to determine if a child qualifies for special-education services, according to state and federal law.
• Oct. 16 — “IEP Basics” covers the Individualized Education Program, little-known facts and the “language” of special education, such as Present Level of Educational Performance (PLEP).
• Oct. 23 — “What is Section 504?” covers the differences between Section 504 and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations, plus the 504 supports, services and accommodations for behavior, learning or health–related issues.
• Oct. 30 — “Supporting Students with ADHD” covers the impact on students, accommodations, modifications and strategies to support learning at home.
The series kicks off on Oct. 9 with an overview of various services, how to get children assessed, what the school is looking for, and what to do if parents disagree with the school’s findings.
An IEP is for students with disabilities who need accommodations and modification in order to learn at the same rate as peers. Meanwhile, 504 plans can cover the gaps for students without disabilities, basically saying the students can do the work, as long as they have supports in place (that might mean extra test time for a student with ADHD, or technology for a student with a cast on her dominant arm).
The Parent Information Center of Delaware serves parents of children with diverse needs. It is Delaware’s federally-mandated parent center.
“It serves to ensure that parents of children from birth to 26 with a broad range of disabilities (intellectual, physical, learning and emotional) receive necessary support to become their child’s best lifelong advocate,” according to the PIC website.
All parent services are free, including one-on-one counseling, workshops, webinars, Facebook Live videos and partnerships with other nonprofit agencies. They also offer bilingual parent consultants, and the website is translated into eight languages.
The Parent Information Center of Delaware (PIC) has offices in Sussex and New Castle counties, but serves students and schools statewide.
“They can always call us, and we have parent consultants available every day. … We’ll assess their situation and connect them to resources,” Andrews said. “We know this is the height of IEP season.”
Pre-registration for the October programs is encouraged and can be done by calling (302) 999-7394 or online at https://picofdel.org (Click “Events”). The Frankford Public Library is located at 8 Main Street, Frankford. Call (302) 732-9351 for details.
By Laura Walter