Special Education includes the gifted and talented, as well as students with intellectual disability, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, visual disabilities, hearing disabilities, speech disabilities, social and emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, and disadvantaged and deprived students.
April is Autism Awareness Month, Month of the Young Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Please see below for some information and resources for each of these important issues.
CDC Website – Autism Fact Sheet
Community Reports
Week/Month of the Young Child
Child Abuse Prevention Month
Non-profit Resources
One of the best resources available to parents, teachers and community members is Parent-to-Parent of Georgia.   They can provide information or put you in touch with someone who can help you.  The following organizations can also be helpful and are not listed in any specific order.   They are provided as a resource only and their listing here does not constitute an endorsement of any agency or organization.
Governmental Resources
Other

Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership
Division for Special Education, Services and Support
The Parent Mentor Partnership is now celebrating its fifth anniversary of working together to increase parental involvement in special education. The partnership, which started as a small group of parents and administrators, now collaborates with more than 60 local school systems and over 140,000 families raising children with learning and/or physical challenges.
Created and partially-funded by the Georgia Department of Education’s Division for Exceptional Students, the 62 Parent Mentors are moms and dads hired by local school systems to work with special education directors, parents, school teams, teachers and the community. Their goal is to build a bridge of communication between home and school. Together, they collaborate to increase parent involvement in solving concerns and gaining ground on targeted goals to improve all children’s achievement. The Partnership, which meets 2-3 times a year statewide and four times a year regionally, is locally driven, which makes each program unique to meet the needs of the individual area.
Mentors build connections for families in the community, concentrate on transition needs of high school students and young children, lead task forces, organize training sessions, collaborate with teachers and increase parent involvement activities in schools. Most importantly, the mentors listen to both parents and educators and use their unique knowledge of both worlds to solve communication issues.
Who are these parents?   Parent Mentors come from many backgrounds. Some live in the north Georgia mountains, while others live on the Georgia coast. They come from the cities, the suburbs and the rural areas of our state. The mentors’ resumes include experience from corporate America to the family farm. One mentor served as a Major in the Army, while another served as a juvenile judge. Still other mentors taught school and ran stores, while others stayed home with their children.
While their personal histories varied, they shared many of the same challenges, frustrations and joys in navigating the education system while raising a child with a disability.  Parent Mentors’ accountability is measured in part on the local district’s comprehensive improvement plan. Collecting quantitative data is helpful in explaining mentor activities but does not tell the complete story of improved student performance. This year Parent Mentors are stepping into the world of cumulative data by writing anecdotal stories to go along with some of the data each district is striving to improve.
In this effort to increase parent involvement, Parent Mentors also team with other Georgia DOE divisions, particularly the parent initiatives in the Title I division. They also look for opportunities to combine efforts with local parent and community groups. The Partnership collaborates with Parent to Parent of Georgia, a statewide nonprofit team with a vast database. They act as a first stop for family information on special education services and resources.
The Parent Mentors lead activities in line with the Parent Teacher Student Association’s National Standards of Parent Involvement which are evidenced-based, family involvement indicators. The 17 Georgia Learning Resource Systems also play an important role in supporting the training of the mentors as do the Division for Exceptional Students’ district liaisons. In addition, a parent of a child with a disability leads the parent mentor effort at the GaDOE and is partnered with a staff education consultant.
Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership is modeled after a similar program in Ohio and began in five county districts: Catoosa, DeKalb, Fayette, Fulton and Grady. Most parent mentors today work 20 hours a week during the school year while some districts ask parent mentors to work fulltime and year-round.
To read more about parent mentors, visit the parent mentor website at www.parentmentors.org or for more information on special education services and resources go to “FIRST STOP” Parent to Parent of Georgia.
Click here for Georgia Parent Mentors contact information.