PARENT EDUCATION & ADVOCACY LEADERSHIP CENTER

Rating: 4.69 stars   29 reviews

Issues: Education

Location: 1119 Penn Avenue % Elisabeth Healey Pittsburgh PA 15222 USA

Mission:
2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I was selected to participate in the PEACE project - one of the many training opportunities the PEAL Center offers. Because of what I have learned, I now feel like a respected partner when I sit at the table for IEP meetings. I am aware of my rights. I know what I can ask for so my children can get the services they need.
I am now able to help the families I come into contact with as a home health nurse. I look forward to sharing what I have learned with other families.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my children's educational experiences since my trainings.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

offer more training opportunities

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

How did you find this group?

I was referred by a friend

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

I feel more comfortable going to the school with my concerns about my children. I know I deserve to be respected!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

Through PEAL I have learned the skills needed to become a strong parental advocate in my childens' education. I am so thankful that I was one of the fortunate parents to be selected for the PEACE program. Through the education I received in the program and working with Christine, I have been able to achieve the FAPE that my children are entitled to.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have learned the skills needed in order to help my children in school.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

It would be nice to have a satellite location of the PEAL center in NE PA.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

I hope PEAL wins the contest. I have attended the PEAL Center's conference, know some of the excellent staff, and utilize their information in connection with my own children and in serving others who have different abilities. The focus on inclusion is such a wonderful initiative which serves so many people. The support and encouragement provided to parents is excellent. Blessings!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

...connection with my own children's educational experience. I also assist other parents in advocating for their children and actively refer them to PEAL as an informational resource.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

...hope they are able to continue to serve others.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

PEAL has made me such a force for my childs education! I felt so powerful after our first meeting that I signed up to volunteer. This organization has given me sooooo much information that I have started to speard the word, rapidly. These people know more about my sons disability and how to talk to trhe school district about it than anyone else on earth. I am so thankful to have able to be guided by there information!!!!!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My sons education and how I can help to have him achieve the best he can be!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would get them more money from the government so they can be known to EVERYBODY!!!!! I am so thankful for this organization!!!!!

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 4 stars  

I attended the training program regarding inclusion and IEP conducted by PEAL. It has tremendously helped me in being more informed about the rules/laws and helped to be a better advocate for my son.

The PEAL staff has been very helpful in answering my questions when I was having issues with the school district.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

advocating for my son

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

none

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

2 years ago, my autistic son was having the most challenging time in his life, which automatically made his entire household go through pure misery. Obviously he did horribly in school and I knew him staying in his educational placement wouldn't benefit anybody.
I had a chance to talk to one of PEAL center staff. She listened to me patiently and comforted me. She had one other PEAL person contact me shortly after that to offered me to help as I had to meet with his school administrators.
Fortunately, my son's condition improved greatly over a year and he's been manageable at home and at his new placement. However, what PEAL center staffs did when I was in the lowest point of my life is unforgettable. As other parents agree that they never stop empathizing no matter how many thousand times they consult with parents of disabled children. My own parents and extended families may be willing to understand what my husband and I go through, but I know they can't, simply because they can't fathom how it is to raise an autistic child. How comforting it is, sometimes, to be able to create 'ugly' pictures in someone else's head! Just by doing that, my original picture somewhat shrinks less vivid in color and I feel better!
Emotional support of parents is not just what they specializes. They are extraordinarily resourceful. The amount of information they can offer to whoever seek them does show their belief in 'knowledge as power' and 'playing by rule'. This center is definitely a great resource for anyone who shares the same belief.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

finding rights my disable child has, and emotional support which only the parents with same situation could offer.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

put more staff into this organization so that current staff can train new staff so more parents could be supported in the same way I have been helped.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

My son currently has a diagnosis of autism and is fully mainstreamed in 4th grade at his neighborhood school and things are going VERY well! I honestly believe that this would not have been the case without the help of the Peal Center through their parent education programs and individual advice. Until I took their class on IEP's and parent rights within the school system, I did not understand that I did not have to accept everything the school recommended and that I did, in fact, have input into how and where my son receives his education. At that time, Zachary was really struggling in the regular classroom and at least some of those on his team felt that he should receive his education in another building in the school district that houses the district's elementary autism program. The education and advice I received gave me the confidence to become an active participant in his team and as such I believe I have gained the respect of the other members of his team. We now all work together quite well in trying help Zachary achieve his potential and he is thriving as a result! I know in my heart that this would not have been the case if not for the help of the PEAL Center and I know many other parents who have had the same experience. The PEAL Center really plays a crucial role in the lives of special needs children and their families!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the success we've experienced in my son's education. The PEAL Center provided me with the education and advice I needed to become an active participant with his team in providing for his special needs, which is essential considering everyone else on the team has to balance his needs against the desires of the school administration.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

While I understand that constructive criticism is important for any organization to succeed...I cannot come up with anything at this time that I feel needs to be improved unless it would be to continue to look for more ways to reach out to parents with special needs. I shudder to think where we would be if we had not discovered the PEAL Center when we did. That being said, I myself have been frustrated in my attempts to reach out to other parents to share my experience.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

I am the mother of 3 sons that were diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (Autism) in 2004. At that time, it was discovered that my husband also has this. Little did I know then, I was in for a very long, hard battle with my children's school district in order to even begin to obtain appropriate autism support for them. I was alone in my fight, having no family or friends due to having just relocated to Pennsylvania from Ohio. The next few years were filled with sleepless nights. I felt I was in a constant battle with time, trying to research everything I could to help my children in school, just to try to ensure they would have every chance at transitioning into adulthood and successful, meaningful futures. This took a major toll on me mentally, emotionally, and physically. Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings were incredibly difficult to deal with; even though I knew I was going into the meetings with reasonable requests, my boys were being denied the autism supports they needed. At every meeting, every time I made requests for social, behavioral, and communication skills to be addressed in the IEPs, I was told repeatedly, "we don't provide autism support here".

I was fighting a fight for my boys education that I simply could not win. At least not alone. So I secured the assistance of a mental health advocate to attend the meetings with me. Unfortunately, even this was not enough.

In 2008, I attended a workshop put together by the local Mental Health Association, the place where my boys' mental health advocate works. It was that day that I met a member of the PEAL CENTER. I shared my story with her and immediately she gave me her card and invited me to call her anytime. Her card read, "Parent/Student Educational Advocate" along with her name and phone number.

At this point, since I had already felt so parent-battered by the school district, I wasn't sure anyone could help me anymore. But with more IEP meetings coming up quickly, knowing I was getting nowhere with the school district, I decided to give this lady a call. And I was so glad I did. Even though I vented so many frustrations that day, she was so calm and reassuring. She agreed to attend my boys' IEP meetings with me. Knowing that I would have 2 advocates, one to cover mental health and the other, the educational portions, this gave me a sense of renewed hope.

It hasn't been an easy journey for any of us. With the 3 of us working together in attempts to get the school district to provide autism supports, it has been very difficult. No parent should ever have to fight this hard for their children's educations. Especially over simple requests that are consistent with what is considered "Free And Appropriate Public Education".

The educational advocate from PEAL has been very helpful. With her help, I was able to obtain additional help and resources from other agencies that I may never have known to do myself. She has provided guidance, insight, and friendship to me and my family. She has stood by me these past few years and has made herself available to attend meetings with me as often as her schedule allows. She continues to encourage me, even when things look like we are still going nowhere with the school district. But we ARE making progress. Progress that I do not believe we could have made without her.

My boys final years of high school are getting close. There is still a lot of work to do. But because of the PEAL CENTER, I am able to hold my head high again in these dreaded IEP meetings, something that had become very difficult to do before I met the educational advocate from PEAL.

Despite our every effort, the school district continues to fight against providing my boys appropriate autism supports, even to this day. Nevertheless, with the help from the educational advocate from the PEAL CENTER, we are making progress, even if it is little by little. But the point is, we are making progress, which is something that was not happening despite my best efforts before I met the advocate from PEAL.

I thank God for the PEAL CENTER and for everything they are doing to help families and individuals with disabilities. If it is a fight that I have to fight in order to gain my kids Free And Appropriate Education, I am thankful I don't have to do it alone.



I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've received excellent help with advocacy for my children's education.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find a way to support it financially so the center could expand its opportunities for outreach.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

How did you find this group?

I heard about it through a local workshop.

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

I have hope again. I was incredibly discouraged and depressed after having fought for so long for my kids education and continually getting nowhere. It was a losing battle and it was taking me down on a personal level, affecting me mentally , emotionally, and physically. I had lost all hope that I could get autism supports from the school district whatsoever before I began getting help from the PEAL CENTER.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

Life as a parent with special needs can be isolating and overwhelming. The PEAL center has empowered me on numerous occasions to help me help my child. This help includes treatment plans, educational goals and general community advice. This is an organization run by real people, ready to help carry out the best agenda for my family. My child's remarkable progress is directly related to the support I receive from the PEAL center.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I became better equipped when advocating for my child as a result of working with the PEAL center. I learned what I can ask the school district to do, to maintain accountability, and provide and appropriate education for my child.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would like to see more growth in this organization. I would like to see additional training classes offered for parents of children with special needs.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A lot

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

How did you find this group?

Internet search

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Review from Guidestar