Parent Education

Understanding the Language of Special Education:  A Glossary for Parents and Educators

Agencies, Organizations, and Programs

Advocacy and Resources for Citizens of Pennsylvania (Arc) is the state chapter of the largest advocacy organization in the United States for citizens with cognitive, intellectual, and developmental disabilities and their families.  The Arc of Pennsylvania works to promote active citizenship and inclusion of all children and adults with cognitive, intellectual, and developmental disabilities in every community.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is a national professional association for speech and language therapists and audiologists.

The Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania conducts programs to prevent brain injury and to improve the quality of life for people who have experienced brain injury.  BrainSTEPS, which is a school reentry program, provides teams of professionals to assist those who provide educational support to students with brain injury.

The Bureau of Special Education (BSE) within the Pennsylvania Department of Education is responsible for the education of students with disabilities from ages three through 21.

Child Find is a federal requirement that states must actively locate children, from birth to age 21, who have disabilities or who are at risk for developing disabilities.

ConsultLine (1-800-879-2301) is the toll-free help line provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education to assist parents of children with disabilities who have questions concerning their children’s special education programs.

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the largest international professional organization   dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with  disabilities, and/or individuals who are gifted.

Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) is a statewide, nonprofit corporation designated as the federally-mandated organization to advance and protect the civil rights of adults and children with disabilities.  DRN works with people with disabilities and their families, their organizations, and their advocates to ensure their right to live in their communities with the services they need, to receive a full and inclusive education, to live free of discrimination, abuse and neglect, and to have control and self-determination over their services.

The Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA) system, which is part of the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network, supports Early Intervention programs through staff professional development and family informational services.

Head Start is a federal program aimed at providing comprehensive preschool education programs for children age’s three to five from low-income families. Planned activities are designed to address individual needs and to help children attain their potential in mental and physical development before starting school. Ten percent of enrollment is reserved for children with disabilities.

Hispanics United for Exceptional Children (HUNE) is one of two Community Parent Resource Centers in Pennsylvania. HUNE empowers parents of children with exceptionalities to obtain a free, appropriate, quality education for their children and other children with disabilities. HUNE provides training programs on all aspects of special education and support, including transition services. HUNE serves, but is not limited to, Hispanic parents in Philadelphia.

An Intermediate Unit (IU) is a regional educational agency that provides services to local educational agencies including curriculum, special education, technology and information services, human resources, instruction, and professional development.

A Local Educational Agency (LEA) is a school district, charter school, or other educational entity responsible for providing free, appropriate, public education in accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Education statutes, regulations, and policies with or without support from other agencies.

The Medical Assistance Program (MA) assures access to quality healthcare for Pennsylvanians eligible for services. Sometimes referred to as Medicaid, it provides payment for health care services on behalf of children with limited income and children with disabilities.

The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) offers support in the delivery of quality education to children and youth with disabilities throughout the country. Its activities include targeted training to address current issues, technical assistance, policy analysis, research, publications, specialized websites, national initiatives, and collaborative partner- ships to enhance problem solving at the local, state, and national levels.

The Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) coordinates and manages Pennsylvania’s special education mediation and due process systems. ODR provides help concerning procedural safeguards to parents, advocates, school districts, charter schools, intermediate units, and approved private schools.

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), through the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Public Welfare, promotes opportunities for all Pennsylvania children and families by building systems and providing supports that help ensure access to high quality child and family services. Early intervention supports and services (infants, toddlers, and preschool age children) are administered by OCDEL.

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) within the U.S. Department of Education is dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children, and youths with disabilities from birth through age 21 by providing oversight, leadership, and financial support to assist states and local districts. OSEP administers the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) provides vocational rehabilitation services to help individuals with disabilities prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment.

The Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center is one of two Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) in Pennsylvania funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The PEAL Center is an organization of parents of children with disabilities reaching out to assist other parents and professionals. It provides workshops, training, and information about early inter- vention, special education, and inclusive education. Parent advisors are available to provide families with information about the special education process and problem-solving strategies.

The Parent Education Network (PEN) is one of two Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) in Pennsylvania funded by the U .S . Department of Education. PEN is a coalition of parents of students representing a range of disabilities and ages. Its parent training projects promote mutual respect between parents and professionals for the knowledge, skills, and abilities each contributes to delivering education and other services to students and adults with disabilities.

Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit organization that links families of individuals with disabilities or special needs.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is the state agency that holds the ultimate responsibility for the state supervision of all schools and educational programs in the commonwealth. PDE’s mission is to lead and service the educational community to enable each individual to grow into an inspired, productive, fulfilled, lifelong learner.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) is the state agency whose mission is to promote health and sound health policy, prevent disease and disability, improve health services systems, and ensure that essential public health functions and safety net services are available.

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) is the state agency in charge of promoting, improving, and sustaining the quality of family life.  This includes child development; children, youth, and families; developmental programs; income maintenance; medical assistance; mental health and substance abuse services.

The Pennsylvania State Board of Education is the administrative regulatory body for elementary, secondary, and higher education in the commonwealth. It consists of 21 members, 17 of whom are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate for over-lapping, six-year terms.

The Pennsylvania State Task Force on the Right to Education was developed as a result of the historic PARC Consent Agreement. The primary purpose of the State and Local Task Forces is to ensure the intent and spirit of the Right to Education for students with disabilities is carried out throughout the commonwealth through recommendations, evaluation, advocacy, and monitoring.

The Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education, working in partnership with families and local educational agencies to support programs and services to improve student learning and achievement.

The Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP) is a state advisory panel required by federal law to provide policy guidance with respect to special education and related services for children with disabilities. Pennsylvania’s panel is established by the governor and consists of 21 members.

The State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) is an advisory group, made up of parents and professionals, whose purpose is to advise the Governor and the Departments of Education, Health, and Public Welfare about Early Intervention issues in Pennsylvania.