Nearly 100 Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) exist across the United States and territories. The broad mission of these organizations is to work with parents to support effective participation in their children’s education and development, and to partner with professionals and policymakers to improve outcomes for children and adolescents (birth to 26), especially those with disability.

New Hampshire Parent Information Center (NH PIC) has identified and responded to the changing needs of children and families in New Hampshire for over forty years and is a pioneer in strengthening family-professional partnerships and supporting family engagement. PIC’s support is disseminated through trainings, by providing referrals and resources directly to parents, and through their extensive website which highlights critical information regarding current state policies on special education and supports for children and youth. The Maine Parent Federation (MPF) established in 1984 is the PTI in Maine. MPF provides advocacy, educational trainings and linkages to services and resources for families and professionals. Their staff provide peer-to-peer and parent-to-parent support and uniquely employ Family Support Navigators as contract workers to provide direct support within communities.  

PIC and MPF provide opportunities for LEND trainees to research and develop projects within their organizations.  This year, Madison Gorrasi (LEND 2021), partnered with PIC and former LEND trainee Robin DeAlmeida (LEND 2014) for her leadership project. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she created a repository of contacts for critical healthcare and community information in NH with an overarching goal of determining barriers experienced by culturally diverse groups and providing fair and equal access to information.  

In Maine, Jaclyn Peterson (LEND 2021) completed her leadership project this year at the MPF with the support of Parent Trainer, Jodie Hall (LEND 2018) and Dylan Campbell, the Youth Coordinator & Parent Trainer. The focus of her project was informed decision regarding sexuality and nutrition for young adults. Using the framework of Supported Decision Making, Jaclyn collected and reviewed research and materials about healthy eating and sexual development and integrated the results into existing MPF trainings for families and youth. 

These community-based partnerships with PIC and MPF provide rich experiences for LEND trainees and are central to building culturally competent leaders working in their communities to improve family professional partnerships and the overall system of care children and youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities.