Volunteer program supports families enrolled in special education

Volunteer program supports families enrolled in special education

Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance are providing free training for people interested in volunteering to help Central neighborhood parents and families navigate the special education process. Provided by the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD) the volunteer training will consist of four sessions and volunteers that complete the training will be designated as education partners.

The paperwork, jargon and overall process of having a student enrolled in special education can be overwhelming for many families. That’s why it’s essential for families and schools to work together to help special education students succeed. The volunteer education partners will act as a support system for Central families that may not be aware of their role in the special education process and the responsibilities of schools.

Volunteer education partners will support families as they navigate the special education process.
Volunteer education partners will support families as they navigate the special education process.

Research shows that parent involvement in education can predict a child’s academic success. The benefits of parent involvement increase dramatically if a student has learning differences or is on an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).Volunteer education partners will assist families with preparation for IEP meetings and may even attend IEP meetings or parent-teacher conferences with families to provide support. By partnering families with education partners, Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance hope to increase the involvement of parents’ involvement in children’s education, to strengthen relationships between school educators and families and increase understanding and awareness of roles and responsibilities throughout the educational journey.

OCECD training sessions with inform volunteer education partners on topics such as:

  • Understanding and writing the Individualized Educational Plan – Tuesday, Oct. 24, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
  • Section 504 – Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities – Thursday, Oct. 26, 1 – 3 p.m.
  • Parent/Professional communication – Thursday, Nov. 16, 1 – 3 p.m.
  • Parent’s rights in the special education process – Tuesday, Nov. 21, 12:30 – 3 p.m.

All trainings will be held at the Sisters of Charity Health System, 2475 East 22nd Street, 6th Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.

If you are interested in attending the OCECD trainings and becoming a volunteer education partner, click on this link to complete registration: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QHBFRT8.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please contact Richaun Bunton, Promise Neighborhood education performance manager, at rbunton@socfcleveland.org.

Pancake breakfast serves-up parent’s guide to special education

Pancake breakfast serves-up parent’s guide to special education

On Saturday, March 4, 2017 dozens of families gathered at East Technical High School for a pancake breakfast, but the main course was an informational seminar on special education. The half-day event featured sessions designed to help parents and families get a better understanding of how to support children on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and how to get more academic support for children in school.

Families enjoy breakfast at East Technical High School .
Families enjoy breakfast at East Technical High School .

A partnership between Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Cleveland Transformation Alliance, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and Cuyahoga Community College, the event was designed to raise awareness of the important role parents play in a child’s education and to increase participation in parent-teacher meetings. Research shows that parent involvement in education can predict a child’s academic success. The benefits of parent involvement increase dramatically if a student has learning differences or is on an IEP.

After enjoying a family breakfast, attendees split into groups with adults heading to seminars and children attending drumming and dance classes with the help of City Year Cleveland volunteers.

Timothy Goler, founder and chief executive officer if HBCU Preparatory Schools Network, served as keynote speaker and delivered a passionate, inspirational and personal account of how parental involvement is the most essential factor of a child’s success at school, and often, in life.

“More than anything else in this city, we need conscious, committed, loving parents. Spend quality time with your kids. Don’t just tell them you love them, show them you love them. Give them affection,” Goler said in his address. “Whether you believe it or not, you are the example of success your children will envision. The best way to make our schools stronger is to make our families stronger and more loving. The foundation for school success starts with the family.”

After hearing from Goler, adult attendees chose from a variety of workshops hosted by experts from the CMSD special education department, Cuyahoga Community College Access department and Milestones, an organization dedicated to providing resources to families of children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Children get a lesson on African drumming.
Children get a lesson on African drumming.

Workshops were held on the following topics:

  • Middle school to high school transition: how to prepare and what to expect
  • Choosing a high school that meets the needs of your child
  • High school to college transition: How Tri-C supports children and adults with making the jump to higher education
  • Parenting children with challenging behaviors and building the parent-teacher relationship

“We hope the event is able to eliminate some of the stress and intimidating factors that can often go along with the special education process,” said Richaun Bunton, education performance manager, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. “It’s really special to see the community, school district and residents rally around this cause and put this event together because ultimately we need educators and parents working together. This event was a true demonstration of the parent-teacher partnership we want to happen.”

The day concluded with giveaways, including 20 Dave’s Supermarket gift cards courtesy of Cleveland Transformation Alliance, one iPad Mini and one Beats by Dre headphones set.

The pancake breakfast was part of a larger initiative by Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance to build better partnerships between schools and families.

Why parents are the M.V.P. of a student’s special education team

Why parents are the M.V.P. of a student’s special education team

Parent participation in the special education process is very important. The most important thing parents can do is ensure they are involved with and take an active role as a member of the Individual Education Program (IEP) team. This team determines a student’s path, so a parent should be leading the way. The IEP team is charged with making educational decisions for students, and addresses issues such as eligibility, evaluation, program development, and placement of a child in special education or gifted programs.

Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance are working together to make sure families know just how important parent involvement is to a student’s success in school. There are more than 300 students in Central’s Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s schools on IEPs. The IEP process can be intimidating and frustrating at times but don’t let that deter you from being as involved as you possibly can.

Here are the top three reasons, from verywell.com, why parents are the most valuable player on the special education team:

homeworkhelp1. Parents may underestimate their importance to the IEP team
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the IEP team process. They may believe team members perceive them as less knowledgeable about teaching or as obstacles to the decision-making process, especially if they disagree with the educators. Parents and other guardians should not let school personnel intimidate them in this process, because their role as student advocate is paramount.

2. Parents provide critical input
Parents and guardians know their children better than anyone else, and have the most complete understanding of a child’s physical, social, developmental, and family history. Parents are the only adults in the educational process who have been and will continue to be deeply involved throughout the child’s school career.

3. Parents are the best advocates for their child
There is no one as interested in and motivated to see a child succeed and thrive than her own parents, and this alone places the parent in a crucial role on the IEP team.

How can you advocate for your child?

  • Learn as much as you can about their learning differences.
  • Observe your child’s learning styles. Despite the specialized tests which attempt to discern how children learn best, parents are in the best position to watch this in action every single day.
  • Keep careful records of your child’s education, including any testing and any IEP reports. Find a way to file these carefully so that you have them on hand readily if needed.
  • Correspond with teachers and other professionals in writing whenever possible, and hang on to these communications. Hopefully you will not need to refer back to any of these records, but if the need arises, you will have them.

Read more reasons from verywell.com why parents need to be involved it the IEP process here.