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Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education

Mission: The mission of the peal center is to ensure that children, youth, and adults with disabilities and special health care needs lead rich, active lives and participate as full members of their schools and communities by providing training, information, and technical assistance based on best practices to individuals, families and all people who support them.

Programs: The parent training and information center (pti) assists parents of children with disabilities to understand their child's disability, to navigate the special education system, to become familiar with effective instructional strategies and to increase effective communication skills to advocate for their children. In the past year, the pti assisted over 6000 parents and over 500 professionals through one to one assistance via phone and email. Peal presented training for 4200 families and professionals and disseminated materials and information to over 8000 individuals.

family to family health information center (f2f) assists parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to access health care, resolve health insurance problems and increase access to physical and behavorial health care services at home and in the community. The f2f provides individual assistance via phone and email and reached over 2000 families and professionals. F2f also provides and facilitates training on a variety of topics, including transition to adult health care systems.

the state personnel development grant (spdg) worked with bse, pattan, and hune to develop and grow a statewide parent network to advocate for high expectations for students with complex instructional needs. We presented 35 trainings across pa, in collaboration with our partners to increase knowledge about presuming competence and having high expectations for access to the general curriculum. Membership in the statewide parent network grew to 350 members representing more than 2/3 of pa counties.

i "want to work campaign" youth advocacy initiative to educate pennsylvania legislators about the importance of youth with disabilities having jobs before they graduate from high school to increase their likelihood of successfully being employed as adults. Reach to fund the development of materials for parents and youth on transition to employment aap doh to produce two issues of stepping stones and organize several webinars evaluation project to support collaboration among invited disability advocates to develop a course for parents on the evaluation and reevaluation process continuous quality improvement for pti the peal center staff did a self-assessment after our expansion to become a statewide organization and identified the need to improve communication and data collection between the new philadelphia office, remote staff and the original pittsburgh office. The continuous quality improvement grant covered the costs of a statewide staff meeting to develop plans to address these challenges. Peal conference support to support presenters and related expenses for peal conference youth leadership to help youth develop self-advocacy and leadership skills. Congregate care imagine different to form a coalition focused on helping children living in congregate care facilities return to family life. Your child your choice to work with parents of children in non-traditional education settings increase inclusive opportunities in those schools.

Community Stories

29 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

Client Served

Rating: 2

Didn't know my area of the state. Couldn't answer my question or offer suggestion besides file a complaint.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a juvenile probation officer, the trainings offered through our local PEAL representative was extremely helpful. The juvenile probation officers in my department and I feel better prepared to handle the educational aspects in our clients' lives.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

I supported this organization since its inception. They also serve the disability community well across the State of Pennsylvania. i have expierenced first had how they work with communities and school districts. I have proudly and honorably since 2008. I commend the staff on their hard work in the past and in the future.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The most impressive thing to me about the PEAL Center is besides it's outstanding help to all families and school districts, their community education workshops are invaluable.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a Speech and Language Specialist with the Pittsburgh Public Schools, I've found the services of the Peal Center to be extremely valuable. I've attended a number of their conferences as well as workshops provided by them. I've received excellent referrals for my students and their parents and have referred a number of friends, whose children have special needs, to the Peal Center. I look forward to continuing my relationship with them.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

Prior to becoming a board member, I have attended PEAL conferences for the last several years as a client because they provide a wealth of relevant, credible information. I have also received information and support directly from PEAL staff relative to inclusion and my daughter's educational experience, and have found the staff to be friendly and helpful in addition to being extremely knowledgeable about education issues and inclusion.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am very proud to be on the Board of Directors for the PEAL Center. The information and trainings that the staff at PEAL provide to the residents in the state of Pennsylvania are a valuable asset. I hear many positive comments from parents, school district personnel and agency employees who attend trainings, conferences and call for information. PEAL advocates have been very helpful in my Intermediate Unit and have attended IEP meetings in our area. They also have provided trainings in our IU. I am happy to be associated with such a wonderful organization.

Review from Guidestar

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Only supports parents if the child wants inclusion. Otherwise, they don't support you at all. They also will not attend IEP meetings.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a parent-to-parent supporter, especially in the area of special education, I frequently refer families to PEAL because I know PEAL gives top-notch information and guidance. I also encourage parents to attend the annual PEAL Conference on inclusion. It is THE place in Western PA for parents to learn how to obtain the best possible education for children with disabilities.



Review from Guidestar

Kathy C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Review from Guidestar

Bucks T.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

There are so many reasons why I believe the Peal Center should be selected he Guidestar $5,000 non-profit sweepstakes. I loved the Peal Center Parent Leadership Class which gave me the confidence and knowledge to become the Cochair Parent of the Bucks County Right to Educate Local Task Force. They teach you how to be effective advocate for your child as well as the importance of improving the system (i.e. education, healthcare, work force) for the next child. Peal host a conference every year that focus on the rights of children with disabilities. The conference is filled with wonderful speakers and an excellent resource fair as well a time to relax and socialize with other parents who “get it.” Most importantly, when ever you need words of encouragement you can always call for support!

Review from Guidestar

Carrie S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!!!!!

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

The PEAL center has worked extensively with the parents, as well as professionals, within our public school system. I have always appreciated the best-practice strategies offered by PEAL.

Review from Guidestar

Gerald T.

Board Member

Rating: 5

PEAL makes a real impact on families and it is immediate. They help parents network, streamline services, navigate bureaucratic challenges, and so much more. The first meeting we attended resulted in our son getting a wider range of services and coordination with services and the medical task force he is a part of -- PEAL helps your family financially (learning what s out there) and gives you so many avenues of support that your family is never alone. PEAL has made a huge difference in our family's life, they can help any family that is working with special needs children.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 4

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.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

PEAL is the place I go for the most up-to-date information on disability issues and advocacy support.

John V.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

PEAL is A+ they help people

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been continually impressed by the commitment and dedication of the PEAL Staff. Meetings are well-run, information is readily shared, opinions and suggestions are listened. This is all indicative of a staff and an organization that is genuinely interested in being the best they can be in their work to help individuals with special needs lead fulfilling lives. Proud to be associated with PEAL.

Review from Guidestar

Jennifer H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a parent I have worked with the people who started PEAL and know they have a lot of knowledge and expertise. I have attended their conferences and have come away with new information and also with the feeling of being revived.
As a professional advocate I have presented at one PEAL conference and I refer parents to PEAL for resources and they refer to me for advocacy services in my area.
I have also found them to be a great resource in areas that do not have professional advocates and they have provided the much needed support.

Review from Guidestar

Sharleen J.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.



Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Carol U.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is an organization that focuses on inclusion with wonderful people that work there and wonderful training.

Review from Guidestar

Advisor

Rating: 5

When my son entered the public school system I wanted to ensure he was included in the regular classroom. I was unaware of the Special Education Laws and my rights as a Parent. The Parent Advisors at PEAL were so helpful in providing me the resoursces to educate myself and be the best advocate for my son. Today my son is included in the regular ed classroom 70% of the time. He is part of the community, he participates in school and comunity activites, he is well knows in our community and accepted by all. He has friends and he is progressing very well. Kai loves school and the school staff has been very supportive and open to our suggestions for my son.

After finding PEAL I was hired as Parent Mentor helping families whose primary language is Spanish. My whole experience with PEAL from the help and training offered to become a better advocate to being hire to work with Hispanic families has been extraordinary and very rewarding.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My wife attended an IEP workshop offered by The PEAL Center a few years ago. It really helped her understand the rights that our special needs child has in the educational system. That knowledge turned her into a strong advocate for our son. We are really grateful for the information PEAL continues to provide through their workshops, publications and website. My wife is a much stronger advocate for our child because of the great support she has found at PEAL!

Review from Guidestar

Gay V.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Pennsylvania needed a parent center that would support parents who wanted inclusion for their childern. I have been with the PEAL Center since its inception, about 5 years. It does an outstanding job of supporting parents as well as educators in best practices in the field of education.