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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 advocate for educational systems change and giving parents the tools they need to lead systems change at the local and state levels. One of the basic tenets of all four programs is understanding the power of the personal story. Parents learn to how to tell their stories in ways that touch hearts and change minds, and to hone their message to impact specific audiences. Along with strengthening their leadership skills and developing their story, parents also learn about public policy and the legislative process from expert speakers, 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.

Parent Leadership Training for Educational Advocacy
Applications Are Open

Dates: Sept. 22 & 23, 2023 | 9:00 a.m. — 1:00 p.m. | On Zoom

For parents and caregivers of children in regular education

Learn More

Special Education
February 2024
Early Childhood
April 2024
Regular Education
September 2023

Advocacy for Systems Change:
PACER’s 2023 Leadership Training for Parents of Children with Disabilities

Applications are now 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

Parents selected for this interactive, virtual training will:

  • Learn about the influence of parent leadership in the history of special education
  • Build capacity to advocate for improved supports and services for children with disabilities and their families with the power of personal experience
  • Learn about parent leadership opportunities in Minnesota from the school district to the state level
  • Set personal goals and develop a Parent Leadership Action Plan
  • Network with other Minnesota parents of children with disabilities

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

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.

If you are the parent of a child or young adult with a disability who is 5 to 20 years old and currently receiving special education services on an IEP in the state of Minnesota,

If you have confidence advocating on behalf of your own child and you’re ready to move your advocacy to the next level,

If you are seeking opportunities to advocate for positive change in the lives of all children and young adults with disabilities and their families,

And if you can commit 2 days of your time and energy to actively participating in this interactive, virtual training with other parents across the state of Minnesota who also want to make a difference,


Trained Parent Leaders

  • Speak and write to others in your community about the needs of children with disabilities and their families
  • Join advisory committees at your school district, local, or state level and share your parent experience to influence decision-making on issues related to special education
  • Use your voice to engage with policymakers and advocate for legislation that enhances the quality of life and expands opportunities for children, youth, and young adults with disabilities
  • Dedicate your unique gifts and strengths to work collaboratively for positive change so that every person with a disability can reach their highest potential

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

Early Childhood Family Leadership Summit

This 2 part training will help family leaders to understand and use data to become vital, involved data leaders who can engage in critical conversations and decisions about the use of data to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities.

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.

Applications are currently closed

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

Parent Leadership Summit on Children’s Mental Health

This training will provide information aimed at helping parents effectively share their story to influence better services and supports in their local areas for children and youth with behavioral health needs in Minnesota.

This training will cover:

  • The importance of parent leadership
  • Parent leadership opportunities
  • Understanding the role of legislation and policy
  • The power of the parent story

Applications are currently closed

Registration for 2023 will be opening in June.

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

PACER’s Minnesota Statewide Family Engagement Center presents

Parent Leadership Training for Educational Advocacy

For parents and caregivers of children in regular education

This training is designed for parents and caregivers who have children in regular education and want to learn leadership and educational advocacy skills.

NOTE: Special education issues will not be the focus of this training.

The leadership training will include:

  • Why advocacy is needed in regular education
  • How to advocate for improvements in your child’s school
  • Learning about your own strengths and skills
  • Setting personal goals and developing a Parent Leadership Action Plan
  • Networking with other Minnesota parents interested in leadership

Applications are Open

Dates: Sept. 22 & 23, 2023
Time: 9:00 a.m. — 1:00 p.m.
Location: Virtual - On Zoom

Apply Today!

Application Deadline - September 1, 2023

If you have questions, email: [email protected]