On January 12, 1991, in Columbus, Ohio, the idea for Parent Mentor Projects was born. About 160 parents from across the state gathered to decide how to implement Goal #7 of the Ohio Department of Education’s Special Education Action Plan. Goal #7 was the Parent Involvement in Education part of this innovative plan to restructure education for children with disabilities.


 As a Parent Training and Information Center for the state, The Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD) convened this meeting of the Statewide Parent Task Force to ask parent leaders what they believed would help to involve more parents in their child’s educational program. The OCECD had been given the task of shaping the activities which would implement Ohio’s Action Plan around Goal #7. These goals had been developed by the State Superintendents Special Education Advisory Council, as required by P.L. 94-142 (the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975). Additionally, over 400 parents met in regional focus groups to review parents’ needs and to shape the future of parent mentors in Ohio’s schools.


 Through the diligent efforts of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), Office for Exceptional Children (OEC) staff and the OCECD director and co-director, by December 1, 1991, ten (10) projects had been chosen to be funded by ODE. OCECD staff were reviewers for the 37 proposals, representing 70 districts. Funds for these pilots came from federal IDEA dollars.


During the state budget development for fiscal years 1994-95, the Coalition successfully persuaded Governor Voinovich to add $500,000 to the state budget for additional parent mentor projects. Again the ODE, OEC staff and OCECD directors selected 20 new projects which began in January 1994. ODE and the Coalition has continued to support additional funding each year in a similar fashion. Presently, 74 projects are funded through state and federal funds.   

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