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New Hampshire's Parent Information Center Helps to Provide a Positive Future for Children with Special Needs

By Elisha Neubauer

Being told your child has a disability can be overwhelming on a parent. It is human nature to want your child to have the easiest, happiest life possible and being told that your child has special needs can really shake your world to the core. As a parent of a child with a disability, finding help or someone who get it can make all the difference in your quality of life.

It is for this reason that, forty years ago, the Parent Information Center was launched. Originally entitled the New Hampshire Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities, it was founded by a group of parents who had children with disabilities at home in partnership with several other New Hampshire organizations with a focus on disabled rights and opportunities.

"This coincided with the passage of the nation's first special education law, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which increased awareness of the importance of providing quality educational opportunities to all children," explains Michelle Lewis, Executive Director of The Parent Information Center. "The law emphasized the importance of parent involvement in their children's education, including procedures to support parent involvement in the special education process for children with disabilities."

Today, The Parent Information Center serves a major function: to provide information, training, resources and support to parents, youth, educators and others in order to fulfill their mission. "The Parent Information Center (PIC), a New Hampshire statewide family organization, strives to achieve positive outcomes for children and youth, with a focus on those with disabilities and special health care needs," states Lewis.

"This is achieved through its partnerships with families, educators, youth, professionals, and organizations." The organization believes that families make all the difference. As Lewis explains it, "When families, professionals and other partners are well-informed and have a shared commitment to work together, everyone benefits."

Despite the misconception that children with disabilities are constantly facing, Lewis and The Parent Information Center truly believe that each child can succeed and contribute as valued members of the community. With over 40 years of special education experience, they aim to reeducate parents, educational institutions, and the children themselves in this belief- correcting any stereotypes one may face.

Since its launch, The Parent Information Center has grown exponentially. "It now includes multiple projects that serve parents, with a special emphasis on parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs, youth with disabilities and special health care needs, educators, school administrators and others, including underserved families and schools/ communities that are experiencing unique challenges," describes Lewis.

Today, the organization is a nationally recognized leader in creating programs and partnerships that aid parents of all students to become hands on with their child's education. But, they're not done yet. According to Lewis, they've still got a lot planned.

"The Parent Information Center's on-going goal is to provide high quality services, and that we are able to be responsive to new and emerging issues that align with our mission," she details. "PIC is enthusiastic about our growth in the areas of special education and early intervention, parent/school partnerships, secondary transition, and our work to support youth with disabilities and special health care needs as they become more effective self-advocates." She adds, "PIC is also working to improve our outreach and service to underserved families throughout New Hampshire."

To learn more about the Parent Information Center, visit PIC's website at www.picnh.org.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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