Ideas that Work, office of special programs U.S. Department of Education

The contents of this website were developed in part under a grant from the US Department of Education, #H328M150052. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government or Project Officer, David Emenheiser.


IDEA Parent, Community, and Educator Collaboration

The Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD) staff and consultants provide support services to parents and families of children with a disability.  They respond to inquiries from school districts, the general public and specifically to families of children with a disability to provide information, support, and assistance regarding special education programs and services.  Our staff and consultants answer telephone inquiries, meets one-on-one with families as necessary, and provide guidance in understanding IDEA and the Ohio Operating Standards and, the provision of services available in the local school district. 

Additionally, OCECD Staff and consultants collaborate with the 16 State Support Teams (SST”s) to coordinate efforts to establish a consistent level and means of services.  We also provide a bridge for communication between parents, schools and the State Support Team Family Consultants.  The regional Parent Mentors and Family Consultants provide information and guidance to parents and school staff to address their needs and provide assistance as necessary.

OCECD staff and consultants provide support services to families of students with a disabilities through individualized, personalized information review, communication with school district staff, attendance at school team meetings - as necessary, if invited by the parent or school staff, and dissemination of information related to both Parent Mentor services and special education programs.

Parent Mentor Oversight and Professional Development

OCECD provides technical assistance using the structure formatted by the Ohio Department of Education, Office of Early Learning and School Readiness, and Office for Exceptional Children to ensure that Parent Mentors receive pertinent, timely, and ongoing professional development opportunities, which will enhance their knowledge concerning the education of students with disabilities to their fullest potentials. Training is provided in the area of developing interpersonal skills to facilitate positive communication between parents, community resources, and school staff to better address the needs of the students. With supports from OCECD, Parent Mentors increase their ability to connect families and school staff to local resources for students with disabilities. In addition, OCECD staff assists the Parent Mentors by maintaining up-to-date information about the continuum of services for students with disabilities. All of this is within the context of larger educational goals which recognize the importance of early literacy and of improving both academic outcomes and functional results for students with disabilities.

Project Launch

OCECD participates in web conferences with PACER Center and partners from two other states. We participate in on-line space for sharing information and resources, determining service gaps. Individual assistance is provided to those seeking information including families, families from diverse communities, professionals, and youth in regard to transition and/or related services. Workshops on transition or employment are presented to students on transition for employment and independent living in the community. OCECD has presented “workshop without walls” presentations to culturally and linguistically diverse individuals in Ohio.  

Parent Training and Information Center for Ohio

OCECD has set forth as its mission to endorse and promote efforts to provide appropriate quality education for children and youth with disabilities. We do this in the belief that all children have the right to a meaningful and relevant education. The Ohio Coalition staff and consultants are dedicated to ensuring that every child with disabilities is provided a free, appropriate public education. With this in mind, OCECD continually strives to improve the quality of services for all children and youth with disabilities in Ohio. The Ohio Coalition’s vision is to safeguard that all students with disabilities are: prepared for kindergarten, ready to be actively engaged in learning, and able to graduate equipped to move on to a career or on to college and then a career.

OCECD is committed to providing the best training and information to a variety of audiences, including underserved parents, low-income parents, parents with limited English proficiency, parents of incarcerated youth with disabilities, and parents with disabilities. At this time, Ohio schools are in a period of redesign of curricular and instructional processes. Taking into account the specific needs of students with disabilities is central to the success of such efforts. The ultimate goal of this project is to encourage educational system redesigns and productivity improvements by an extensive review of evidenced-based practices, with the goal being the identification of the most current findings of successful school districts and the initiation of state-level implementation. Leadership at the district, school, and classroom levels emerge as the most powerful driver of significant changes to improve student outcomes, especially for minority and underserved populations. Our staff and consultants has intensified its outreach services to these school and parent leaders during the course of this grant period.

Students (consumers) must be involved in their Individualized Educational Program (IEP), especially transition age youth who are 14 or older and preparing for future jobs and careers. Due to the monitoring visit from OSEP in 2009, which found Ohio lacking in transition planning for youth, action has been taken to correct this deficit and in order to produce positive results.

Complementing what Ohio’s SST’s are doing for school personnel, the Ohio Coalition is providing comparable services to both students and parents of children with disabilities who are 14 and older. OCECD’s Self Advocacy Training, It’s My Turn, is a critically acclaimed transition training that instructs teens with regard to their rights and what they need in their transition plans in order to progress to their post-secondary life. Post-Secondary training is geared toward parents so that they understand what their child’s transition rights are and that the process begins at age 14. This ‘forces’ all parties involved to look ahead to the future for not only typical students, but also students with disabilities. The identification of interests and goals gives a focal point to complete a framework in order to reach those goals. 

Another issue that the Ohio Coalition is investigating is evidence-based education practices for transition-aged youth with low literacy. To meet the identified needs of low-literacy youth, OCECD is using is the Mentoring 4 Reading Achievement Program (M4RA). This one-on-one reading mentoring program uses an evidence-based, online guided reading series to improve reading for children and youth reading below a 6th grade reading level.

The connection between juvenile justice and special education in Ohio is both sobering and  

substantial. There are over three times as many special education students in Ohio’s Department of  

Youth Services facilities as there are in the general school population.

In addition to the low-literacy rates of Ohio’s youth, the Ohio’s College-and Career-Ready Commitment [] reports that far too many students either drop out of high school or graduate unprepared for post-secondary success. This closes doors and limits options and opportunities. This is particularly true for minority and low-income students. The Ohio Coalition adds the additional focus of students with disabilities.

Studies have shown positive outcomes when Parent Centers partner with State and local agencies, other nonprofits, and Independent Living Centers in order to provide postsecondary education options, employment training, and supports. Independent Living Centers participate with OCECD staff in working with schools and students on transition plans. 

The ultimate goal of OCECD is to assist all parents, especially those within traditionally under-represented groups, so that their children will: (a) meet developmental and functional goals and the challenging academic achievement standards that have been established for all children; (b) be prepared to lead productive, independent adult lives to the maximum extent possible.

OCECD has Additional Funding Sources for various projects:

            Allen County Community Partnership for Adjudicated Youth (ACCPAY)

            Baisden Fund a private donation to be expended in specific counties in Ohio for training

The Marion Community Foundation for training of parents to mentor their children in reading in Marion County

Molina for support of Multicultural families

NAMI for support of Multicultural families



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