Program Description

PIC has moved its Volunteer Advocate (VA) Training Program to the remote learning world!  This free training program is designed for parents and others who want to gain the knowledge and skills to support other parents of children with disabilities in the special education process, while at the same time, enhancing their own advocacy skills.

The VA Training Program is an 8 week series that is at least once per year.  Live class is held via Zoom one evening a week for two hours.  In between classes, participants are expected to watch on-line modules, review written material and other tasks to prepare for in-class discussions and activities.  Please see below for the series schedule, dates and times.   Since the program can only accommodate a limited number of participants, an application is required and acceptance is not guaranteed. You can find more information about the application process and a link to apply below.

The VA program enhances PIC’s capacity to reach and serve families statewide. We therefore strive to ensure that the VA network encompasses every region of the state, including rural areas and inner-city neighborhoods, and that it is representative of the families PIC serves (the full-range of disabilities, children from birth to age 26, including underserved families). To support the needs of underserved families, PIC encourages applications from parents from traditionally underserved groups (minority families, including refugee families; families in which the parents and/or children have limited English proficiency; low-income families; and parents with disabilities).

What are the program requirements?

  • Attend all training sessions

  • Complete a community service project

  • Commit to volunteering your time to support PIC through a variety of opportunities, including providing individual assistance and support to other parents, for a minimum of 2 years

  • Attend at least 1 special education workshop/year to ensure that your skills and knowledge remains current

  • Provide data regarding your VA activities to PIC, including completing an annual survey

What do VA’s say about the program?

“I looked forward to the class each week. The support and resources that I received from my classmates was invaluable!”

Parent

“I have gained knowledge, confidence and empowerment from the course and am ready to help other parents”

Parent

“Our relationship with PIC has led to improved educational outcomes for students in our school, better relationships between parents and the rest of the teams, resolving disputes in the least adversarial manner and most importantly, informed parents attending team meetings.”

Special Education Director

Application and Acceptance Process

Preference is given to parents of children/youth with disabilities and to applicants from areas or populations currently underrepresented in PIC’s VA network, including people who speak languages other than English.  Consistent with our goal of providing volunteer support to parents of children with disabilities, PIC does not accept professional advocates (those who charge a fee, or intend to charge a fee, for their services) into the VA program.  Other factors used in determining acceptance into the program include:

  • A completed VA application, including 3 references (1 professional reference) submitted to PIC by the deadline
  • A signed agreement acknowledging that persons accepted into the VA program may not charge for the advocacy/support they provide
  • Information (from the application, references and telephone interview) that indicates that the applicant will fulfill all of the program’s requirements

Volunteer Commitment

Participants are expected to attend all training sessions and be willing to volunteer their time to support PIC on Special Education through a variety of opportunities for a period of two years.

Next Session

Check back for details!

Stay tuned for information on the next VA Class!

As part of the application process, you will be asked for 3 references (including one school personnel reference)