Family Partnerships: Creating Powerful Partnerships Between Families and the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC)

By Debbie Grosser, M.Ed., and Dale Pennell, C.A.S.

An interview with Cherie Takemoto, executive director of the Virginia Parent Educational Advocacy Center



The PEATC builds positive futures for Virginia's children by working collaboratively with families, schools, and communities in order to improve opportunities for excellence in education and success in school and community life. Our special focus is children with disabilities. We do this by providing:

  • Services and support for families and professionals;
  • Easy-to-understand, research-based information and training; and
  • Opportunities for strategic partnerships and advocacy for systemic improvement.


1. Ms. Takemoto, please describe the supports, information, and training that the PEATC provides for families and others.

Parents and teachers call or e-mail us with general and specific questions about their children's academic, social, or developmental concerns. For example, questions might be related to:

  • Early intervention,
  • Special education,
  • No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation,
  • Services for children who are learning English,
  • Parent/school/community partnerships, or
  • Resolution of disagreements.

Our staff is knowledgeable about special education and NCLB. We have access to information from national dissemination centers that relate to early childhood development, children with disabilities, NCLD, dropout prevention, family involvement, services to minority children, research-based instructional practices, bullying prevention, and civil rights. Parents and teachers may find information about these topics on our website, Some information is also available in Spanish.

PEATC offers workshops in English and Spanish, preferably through local hosting organizations, including schools, Parent Resource Centers, Special Education Advisory Committees, and local civic groups. We also send out regular E-News bulletins, maintain a PEATC fan facebook page , and provide PEATCtweet updates on twitter (

The diverse staff at PEATC has "walked the walk" as parents of children with and without disabilities. When parents call us, they know they will have a sympathetic listener. When schools refer parents, they know that we will help parents understand the power of working collaboratively with their children's schools.

2. Are there costs associated with your services?

We do not charge for PEATC services. We receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education to provide resources in the areas of early intervention, special education, NCLB, and transition from high school through adult life. However, because demand for our services exceeds the funding we receive, we also rely on donations to support our efforts.

3. How can parents access PEATC's services?

They can call us at (703) 923-0010 or toll-free at (800) 869-6782. Families can also e-mail us at

4. At what age, if any, do PEATC services end for parents whose children have disabilities?

We serve families of children from birth through age 26. We also respond to calls from youth with disabilities. In addition, our services are available to professionals.

5. How can parents create powerful partnerships with PEATC?

Parents may call us or e-mail us for information or assistance. In addition, we recruit and train parents who are interested in helping other parents in their communities. Please contact us if you would like to participate in these efforts.

Additionally, we partner with educational professionals to support school-wide initiatives designed to increase parental involvement, and, upon request, we provide workshops to school personnel. Educators, too, may call or e-mail us for information or assistance, and we invite them to refer parents who are seeking answers to difficult questions.

We believe that the most powerful partnerships are formed when parents and schools work together with children to build positive futures for them. It can make all the difference in the world.