In partnership with local school district personnel, the Parent and Educator Partnership (PEP) Program empowers and supports both educators and parents of children with disabilities to effectively navigate the educational system. The PEP Program provides an array of workshop and conferences also open to educators and parents of students with disabilities.
Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) co-sponsor the PEP Program and collaborate with community organizations to establish and ensure appropriate services for students with disabilities.
Our goal is to enhance caregivers' ability to participate actively in their child's education. It is believed that such participation will help ensure that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.
We believe parents and educators must be equal partners in the process of educating students. Research strongly supports school-parent partnerships as effective in improving school climate and student performance. According to a comprehensive survey of 85 research studies cited in two National PTA publications, National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs (1998), and Building Successful Partnerships: A Guide for Developing Parent and Family Involvement Programs (2000), the influence of parent involvement is profound and provides comprehensive benefits for students, families, and schools when parents and family members become participants in their children’s education and lives.
Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Specialized Services employs a parent and educator liaison to oversee the recruitment of area parent mentors who are also themselves, parents of students with special needs. The parent mentors facilitate and support the PEP initiative and program goals.
The Role of Parent Mentors Includes:
- Sharing Information about special education laws, policies and procedures.
- Increasing the number of and improving the quality of parent and professional partnership.
- Provide training, workshops, and ongoing technical assistance for parents, school district personnel, and community members.
- Attending IEP meetings, if requested by parents or district personnel.
- Obtaining and distributing materials and resources to parents and educators of children with disabilities.
- Promoting parent mentor services within the school district and community.
- Establishing and sustaining parent networking and support groups, as needed.
- Helping parents find and access community resources.
- Establishing and/or supporting collaboration among child service agencies and related organizations.
- Participate in the focus monitoring of other schools districts as a team-member led by ISBE.