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PACER’s Parent Leadership Trainings

PACER has a legacy of empowering parents. Though they focus on different areas, the goal of PACER’s parent leadership training programs is the same: building the capacity of parents to lead systems change. Parents learn to how to tell their personal stories in ways that touch hearts and change minds, and to hone their message to impact specific audiences. Parents also learn about public policy and the legislative process and develop a leadership action plan, which is based on their individual strengths and goals. A requirement for participation in PACER’s parent leadership programs is the desire to go beyond individual advocacy for your own child and become more deeply involved in advocating for systems change.

Special Education
February 2024
Early Childhood
January 2024

Advocacy for Systems Change:
PACER’s 2024 Leadership Training for Parents of Children with Disabilities and/or Mental Health Needs

Friday, February 16, 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Friday, February 23, 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
(1 training over 2 days)

Online on Zoom

Applications are currently closed

“Coming in, I was feeling inspired to take greater action. Now, I feel like I have a better sense of how to do that.”

- Parent Leadership Trainee

This free training is for parents interested in taking their advocacy to the next level and advocating for systems change for all children, youth, and young adults with disabilities and/or mental health needs.

This is NOT a training for parents interested in learning to advocate for their own child.  

Parents selected for this interactive, virtual training will:

  • Learn about the influence of parent leadership in the history of special education
  • Build their capacity to use the power of personal experience to influence systems change
  • Learn about parent leadership opportunities in Minnesota
  • Set personal goals and develop a Parent Leadership Action Plan
  • Network with other Minnesota parents of children with disabilities

This training is for Minnesota parents who:

  • Have a child or young adult with a disability and/or mental health needs who is 5 to 20 years old and currently receiving special education services on an IEP.
  • Are seeking opportunities to advocate at the systems level for positive change.
  • And can commit two days of their time to actively participating in this interactive, virtual training with other parents across the state who also want to make a difference.


Trained Parent Leaders

Dedicate your unique gifts and strengths to work collaboratively for positive change so that every person with a disability and/or mental health needs can reach their highest potential by:

  • Creating networks of support for parents in your community
  • Joining advisory committees at your school district, local, or state level and sharing your parent experience to influence decision-making on issues related to special education
  • Using your voice to engage with policymakers and advocate for positive change through legislative action

If you have questions about this training opportunity, contact Rachel Pearson at 952-838-9000 or [email protected]

Early Childhood Leadership Training — Empowering Families to be Part of Data-based Decision Making

This is a 2 part training on how to use data as part of an advisory council, an Interagency Early Intervention Committee, or other stakeholder groups. This training will inform families about early childhood education systems and the importance of understanding and using data to make decisions. Families will learn to be effective partners in decision-making.

Upon completion of the training, family leaders will know how to apply to become members of their schools district Special Education Advisory Councils, their regional Interagency Early Intervention Committees, the Governor’s Interagency Coordinating Council and other stakeholder groups.

Audience: Parents of children aged 7 and under with disabilities
Dates of trainings: January 13, 2024 and January 20, 2024
Time: 9:00 - 12:30
Format: Training sessions will be virtual

Applications are currently closed

If you have questions about this training opportunity, contact Judy Swett at 952-838-9000 or [email protected]

Parent Leadership Training on Children’s Mental Health

For 2024, PACER’s parent leadership training will cover material that is relevant to parents who have children in special education with disabilities and/or mental health needs. Applications are now open.

Please see the Special Education Training tab for details and to apply.

If you have questions about this training opportunity, contact Laura Jean at 952-838-9000 or [email protected]