Submitted By: Cheryl Esch
There are many resources available to families with special needs and more often than not, for whatever the reason may be, these resources are underutilized. I would like to take the time to discuss a resource that I have recently found to be valuable for myself, as a professional and one which I believe could be even more valuable to the families that I serve. Parent to Parent is a national non-profit organization that serves special needs families across the country on both emotional and informational levels. Many states have branches that fall under the umbrella of this resource and are devoted to assisting that specific area. By visiting Parent to Parent USA’s website (p2pusa.org) you can find what parent to parent programs are available to you in your area. Again, many but not all states have this resource; if you contact a neighboring statewide P2P agency they will assist you in finding someone that can help. While services that are offered may vary, Reaching Milestones currently has 5 locations across the state of Georgia, so I would like to discuss how advantageous this resource can be by discussing some of the services that this particular branch has to offer.
First, before getting into what is offered in terms of training and services, I would like to talk a little bit about Parent to Parent of Georgia (P2P of GA) as a whole. Their main office is located in Atlanta but regional support is offered in the surrounding areas with offices located throughout the state. To set up a training or request services you will need to contact your regional coordinator at 1-800-229-2038 and they will guide you in the right direction. P2P of GA’s board of directors consists of both parents and other professionals that work on the behalf of the families that are affected by various disabilities. Their mission is, “to support Georgia families and individuals from birth to 26 impacted by disabilities or special health care needs.” P2P of GA became established as a private nonprofit organization in 1983. All services offered are absolutely FREE of charge to the families and the other individuals that they serve. While parents are the core target of this operation, P2P of GA’s goal is to, “provide high quality, relevant, and useful educational opportunities to families, schools, and communities that are based upon state and national best practice and current research.” I believe this goal is extremely important as collaboration should be key for best practice in establishing programs and treatment goals.
Below is a breakdown of the seven core services that are offered by P2P of GA. Services provided include:
- Supporting Parents: This service helps get you into contact with another individual(s) that can relate to your experiences.
- Special Needs Database: Here you’ll find help accessing information to providers that are located in your area.
- Roadmap to Success: This is another way to access providers and other resources in your area.
- One-on-One Telephone Assistance: P2P of GA’s trained staff can give you individual guidance for any questions that you may have.
- Navigator Project: This service helps you stay active within your community by putting you in touch with other individuals in the area.
- Free Statewide Training: Trainings on various topics are offered and can occur in person or online via a webinar.
- Unique Online Opportunities: Material is provided on up to date information in addition to upcoming events and volunteer opportunities in your area.
Currently, the service I have come into the most contact with is the free statewide training as this is something that benefits both myself as a provider and the families that I reach all at the same time. P2P of GA offers workshops that are approximately 2-4 hours long, depending upon the service topic. There are fifteen established training workshops that are offered, but P2P of GA will customize trainings to meet the needs of the individual upon request. On October 14th, 2015 and November 17th, 2015 the Reaching Milestone’s Columbus Office hosted Parent to Parent Workshops on two of the fifteen established workshops to serve individuals within the Columbus, Fort Benning, and other surrounding areas. The topics for these events included, “What a great IDEA,” which reviews the basics of the special education program and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and, “Peace, Love, and Harmony…and the IEP/IFSP Team,” which provides tools for developing effective communication skills, preparation, and a healthier partnership between you and the school team. We felt it important to provide this information to families within the community as summer ended and fall began, and with it, the new school year.
Additional detailed information about this particular service (statewide training) and the other core services offered by P2P of GA can be found by reaching out to your regional coordinator in addition to the P2P of GA website (p2pga.org). Future training events like this can be located on P2P of GA’s training and events calendar located on their website. Events relative to each of the Reaching Milestones’ clinic will be posted to the Facebook page as well. Now that you have had a chance to see what P2P of GA has to offer I hope that you can find this resource to be useful for you and your family. Remember, even if you are not located in Georgia, you can visit Parent to Parent USA’s website to help direct you to a branch that will benefit you.