The Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership is an alliance of parents and professionals working together to improve outcomes for students with disabilities by enhancing communication and collaboration between families, educators and the community.
The mission of the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership is to build effective family, school, and community partnerships that lead to greater achievement for students, especially those with disabilities.
The vision of the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership is Parent mentors and special education administrators will lead the way in Georgia to bridge the gap between home, school and community partnerships.
The Partnership includes parent mentors, who are parents of children with disabilities hired by the district to support family engagement, as well as special education directors and other administrators, teachers, and support personnel within the district.
Parent mentors are parents who support other parents by providing information and resources to help their children succeed in school and transition from school to adult life. The mentors work to increase parent participation in IEP meetings, provide information related to improving reading and math, graduation rates, and help parents locate needed services and supports.
The Parent Mentor Partnership also strives to build parent leadership capacity and authentic stakeholder engagement.
Mentors also work with teachers, staff, and administrators to integrate family engagement into school and district activities and to build a culture in which family engagement is expected and valued. Across the state, mentors have had an important role in projects that address improving reading and math achievement, increasing the graduation rate, decreasing the dropout rate, and improving post-school outcomes. Mentors also partner with over 700 Title I Parent Involvement Coordinators to align their work with district family engagement activities for at-risk students.
Parent mentors also work to support the integration of students with disabilities into the community. They often work with community partners to increase vocational training and job opportunities as well as recreational options for students.
The Parent Mentor Partnership was founded in 2002 when six school districts partnered with the Georgia Department of Education Division for Special Education Services and Support to hire parent mentors to infuse family engagement into school and district activities. The mentors, who would serve as members of their special education leadership teams, were funded partially by the GADOE and partially by the school district. Mentors were responsible for providing information to parents of students with disabilities to assist them in navigating the special education system and in identifying activities that could help improve outcomes for their children. They also supported teachers and administrators in planning and implementing activities that would support family involvement.
Modeled after the Ohio Parent Mentor Program and led by the GaDOE Special Education Family Engagement Specialist, the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership quickly became a model for families and schools working together to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Today, the Partnership has grown to nearly 100 parent mentors who partner with special education directors in over 80 school districts to embed family engagement into school and district initiatives.