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Why Are Wrightslaw Programs Held During the Day
When Working Parents Can't Attend?

"Why are your programs held during the day when working parents can't attend? I'm a working mother. In my community, most mothers do not work full-time. All school programs are held during the day. I'm tired of being excluded from programs and events because I can't afford to take time off from work."

"I guess your programs are for middle class, two-parent families with mothers who don't work full-time. I appreciate the work you do, but I wish it were more accessible to those who need it."

Pam Answers

First, I will answer your questions about training and offer some suggestions about how you can find the training you want. Next, I will answer your questions about our intended audience.

In Wrightslaw Special Education Law & Advocacy programs, our goal is to provide intensive training in a very short period of time. The programs are 6 hours (1 day) and 12 hours (2 days) long. Some programs are held on weekends, others during the week. Most two-day programs are on Friday and Saturday.

This level of intensity is not for everyone!

If you cannot take a day off, you are not out of luck. Many groups and organizations offer special education advocacy training programs. The time commitment for these programs varies from a few hours to several months.

Over the past several months, we have published information about training programs for parents, teachers, advocates, and attorneys. Here are some opportunities you may have missed.

Online Advocacy Courses for Parents

Partners in Education is a free 3-hour online self-study course for parents of children with disabilities. The course is designed to teach the skills you need to advocate for your child. You will learn about:

* Laws governing special education and how they protect your child's rights
* Your role in your child's educational experience
* Your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) and your role in developing the IEP;
* How to advocate for your child;
* Your rights if you believe your child's educational rights have been violated.

Making Your Case is a three-hour online course that focuses on how to communicate with public officials by telling your personal story, writing letters, providing testimony, and communicating in positive ways.

Parent Training & Information Centers

Contact the Parent Training Information Center in your state to learn about advocacy training programs. These organizations provide many services and good information.
Directory of Parent Training Information Centers

Disability & Advocacy Groups

If you read From Emotions to Advocacy, you know we urge parents to join two or three disability groups for one year. Read their newsletters and attend the state and/or local conferences.

The Yellow Pages for Kids has a Directory of Disability Organizations. The state and local chapters of organizations often offer advocacy training for parents. In fact, these organizations (i.e., the Autism Society of America, Learning Disabilities Association, the International Dyslexia Association, Families for Early Autism Treatment, the Aspergers Education Network, Down Syndrome Resource Group, Williams Syndrome Association, Rett Syndrome Association, etc.) have sponsored Wrightslaw training programs.

From Emotions to Advocacy (FETA) Study Groups

Advocates and parent groups are sponsoring From Emotions to Advocacy (FETA) Study Groups.

In some groups, one or two individuals act as group leaders. In other groups, group members select topics - how to organize the file, how to write letters, how to measure progress, how to prepare for school meetings - and teach that topic.

Most study groups use Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy as their text.
Our publisher sells bulk orders of books at a 50% discount. Several times a year (including now), we have a Scratch n Dent Sale where we sell books for $9.95.

Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates (COPAA)

The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) is a national organization of parents of children with disabilities and their advocates and lawyers. At their national conference last week, COPAA had intensive pre-conference skills training programs for parents, advocates and attorneys. See if you can attend next year.

Partners in Policymaking

Partners in Policymaking is a leadership training program for parents of children with disabilities and people with developmental disabilities. Participants attend advocacy skill workshops, resource development, and leadership skills training.

Because sessions take place over a period of several months, you must be willing to make a commitment of time, motivation and energy. Expenses for training, lodging, meals and travel are provided through the program.

Overview of program. Contact Your State Coordinator.

Who Are Your Programs Really For?

You asked, "Who are these events really for? I guess they are for middle class two-parent families with mothers who do not work full-time."

Nope. Most people who attend our programs are parents of children with disabilities, child advocates, teachers, related services providers, attorneys who represent children, and health care providers. In most cases, working parents can arrange to attend a program if they plan ahead and use annual or personal leave.

On a personal note, I was a single parent who worked full time for several years. The experience taught me invaluable lessons about work, money, emotions, priorities, and time - many of which I did not appreciate at the time!

You wrote,"I appreciate the work you do. I just wish it were more accessible to people who need it."

We agree. We wish our programs were available to more people too. We know there is a huge need for advocacy training programs. We also know we cannot meet this need by ourselves.

We have trained another team to do Wrightslaw special education law and advocacy programs. With help from attorney Wayne Steedman and advocate Pat Howey, we can bring Wrightslaw training programs to more people - on weekdays and weekends!

If you have suggestions about how we can improve, please let us know. We are always open to new ideas.

Take care,
Pam Wright

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