Parent Mentor Program

Heather Hutchison

Parent Mentor
Tri-County Educational Service Center
330-345-6771 ext 263

A Parent Mentor is the parent of a child with a disability employed by local education agencies and Educational Service Centers to help school
districts and families by providing training, support and information services.

Districts have a responsibility to develop, support and implement a system of education services for all students.

The basis of the Parent Mentor Program is the expectation that students with disabilities will be ensured appropriate and meaningful education if parents and educators communicate effectively and operationalize the partnership planning required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.

Districts choose to implement the Parent Mentorn Program to promote this necessary and effective communication by providing information and support to families about special education issues and by providing a mechanism to convey the family perspective back to the system.

The mission of Ohio Parent Mentors is to provide the necessary support and resources to families of children with disabilities and the
professionals who serve them.

Ohio Parent Mentor projects are funded through grants from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). All Parent Mentor services are provided to families free of charge.

In regional meetings, parents of children with disabilities in the state of Ohio voiced the need for a person at the school district level who could best relate to their family’s experiences.

In response to this need, the Parent Mentor Program was created through the combined efforts of ODE and the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities.

In 1990, 10 pilot sites were selected, representing school districts in urban, suburban and rural areas. The overwhelming success of these sites prompted a request to the Ohio General Assembly for additional funds. Parent Mentors now serve families of children with disabilities in
approximately one-third of Ohio’s school districts.

Parent Mentors:
Guide families through the special education process and help them understand rights and responsibilities;
Listen and provide support to families and educators on an individual basis;
Provide information and resources to families and school personnel on education laws, district programs and services, and community resources;
Attend Individualized Education Program meetings and other meetings at parent or staff request;
Organize and conduct information sessions or workshops based on the needs of families and professionals; and
Build collaborative partnerships between families, schools and committees to benefit students with disabilities.

To access the Parent Mentors of Ohio website go to

For more information:
Office for Exceptional Children
Ohio Department of Education
2nd Floor, Mail Stop 203
25 S Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-2650
(877) 644-6338

Lee Ann Derugen, Co-Director
Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities
165 W Center Street, Suite 302
Marion, OH 43302-3741
(800) 374-2806
[email protected]