What is a Parent Resource Center and what does a Parent Resource Center do?
A Parent Resource Center is located within the community and offers support to encourage collaboration for the benefit of all students. PRCs promote a partnership between educators and parents. The Virginia Department of Education model for PRCs includes employment of an educator and a parent as coordinators working together in performing the duties of the PRC. The majority of PRCs are educators or parents with experience in special education, since parents of students with disabilities and educators are called upon to navigate the special education process.
Click here to download the annual report: Virginia Parent Resource Center 2012-13 Data Report
Who operates Parent Resource Centers?
School divisions in Virginia operate PRCs. Some are open to all families while others serve parents and guardians of children receiving special education services and the educational professionals who work with them.
What types of services do Parent Resource Centers offer?
Depending on which school divisions, Virginia’s PRCs vary in the types of services they offer. PRCs typically provide:
- direct assistance to parents/guardians
- support through listening and problem-solving
- resources including books and DVDs, consumable information such as booklets and brochures as well as community agency and organization connections
- information sessions for parents, school staff, and community promoting parent/professional partnerships
Each PRC determines additional services to offer based upon the needs of parents and the services available in the community. These additional services may include:
- providing initial contact with parents when their child is identified as needing special education services
- organizing and/or facilitating parent-to-parent support groups
- publishing a newsletter
- establishing a lending library
- serving on an interagency committee or council
- conducting special education training
- providing training sessions to enhance parenting skills
- maintenance of a website
Do Parent Resource Centers serve as advocates?
PRC staff members serve as advocates for the child, working with parents. They do not serve as advocates for parents in formal mediation, complaints or due process proceedings. In this situation, referral to local or state advocacy organizations is appropriate. Due to the time commitment, school divisions determine policy regarding PRC staff involvement in special education eligibility, Individual Education Programs (IEPs) and other formal and informal school meetings.
Do Parent Resource Centers charge for services?
No, PRCs offer training, information, and assistance free of charge.
Does every Virginia school division have a Parent Resource Center?
Approximately 50 of the 134 school divisions in Virginia maintain PRCs. These divisions are committed to the PRC’s role in promoting informed parents and building positive parent-school working relationships. In school divisions without PRCs, parents are encouraged to contact teachers or administrators for the information and assistance they need. For a list of Parent Resource Centers visit click here.
How are Parent Resource Centers funded?
After two years of supplemental startup funds provided by the Virginia Department of Education, PRCs are funded by their local school division. Some PRCs supplement their budgets with community grants or partnerships.
How does a Parent Resource Center get started?
In the past, school divisions submitted an application for PRC start-up funds to the Virginia Department of Education. If approved, two years of funding ($30- 35K total) were provided to assist the division in establishing a PRC. However, effective October 1, 2012, due to funding restrictions and a desire to focus on strengthen existing PRCs, VDOE will no longer be accepting applications for start-up funding for new PRCs until further notice. However, VDOE encourages and supports school divisions in their efforts to initiate and maintain PRCs and training is provided for new PRC staff members. For more information please contact:
Department of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, Va. 23216-2120
Phone: (804) 371-0525
Fax: (804) 786-8520
The Virginia Department of Education continues to support existing PRCs and to encourage divisions to establish PRCs, but no support funding from VDOE is available at this time.
How did Parent Resource Centers get started?
The first Parent Resource Centers opened in 1984 in Richmond and Hampton cities. Prior to that, in Alexandria, a family approached a local church preschool and asked if the staff would provide an educational program for their son with multiple physical and cognitive disabilities. When the preschool agreed to try, the process of working together as parents and educators to develop an appropriate educational program for this young child laid the foundation for the eventual establishment of Virginia’s Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC). PEATC now receives federal funding as Virginia’s Parent Information and Training Center.
PEATC knew that parents and educators needed equal access to information and training. The concept of Parent Resource Centers was born. By 1984, PEATC and the Virginia and West Virginia departments of education embarked on a cooperative project to initiate a model program to train parents and educators in the skills needed to create and implement effective working relationships. As a result of the training provided by the staff at PEATC, the first PRCs were established. Present training for PRCs is based in part on the initial training program.
Who supports Parent Resource Centers?
In May 1988, the Virginia Board of Education set a goal to expand the network of Parent Resource Centers statewide. Not only did the board and the Virginia Department of Education earmark funds to assist local school divisions with startup costs, they also established positions at the department for a parent of a child with a disability and a special educator who would model parent-professional partnership. Today, a Complaints and Family Support Coordinator and a Parent Ombudsman at VDOE respond to parent requests for information and assistance. VDOE supports Virginia’s PRCs through coordination, training and networking activities.
The network of PRCs in Virginia continues to grow with support from the VDOE and local school divisions. The VDOE also supports and encourages a broad network of parent initiatives to ensure parents and PRCs across Virginia have access to support and training.