Parent to Parent Program Manual

You Are Not Alone: “I know, I’ve been there, I understand”

Alaska Parent to Parent connects parents to other parents whose children have similar disabilities or whose families are facing similar concerns or challenges.

Parents of children with disabilities often feel isolated. Being able to talk to another parent, express concerns, voice doubts and be supported by someone who knows how it feels is what makes this program unique and successful. It reduces stress and helps in the day to day coping with difficult situations.

Mentor parents or helping parents are given training in mentoring skills including listening, supporting, referral resources, and confidentiality. They also process some of their own parenting issues as part of a group process before being matched in a supportive relationship.

Some matches may be brief and last only until a specific issue is addressed. Other matches may last years as the relationship evolves into a friendship.

A confidential computer database is being continually updated with information about our mentor parents and those available outside Alaska. This database is also upgraded as new technology emerges that could assist in better matching the needs of parents.

International Parent to Parent Conference 2002 was held in Philadelphia. Programs worldwide presented information relating to initiating, developing, training, and maintaining local programs. Julie Renwick and Tom Shackle from PARENTS, Inc. presented information about the Alaska Parent to Parent Pilot Project in Nuiqsut, Ketchikan and Anchorage.

Alaska Parent to Parent is unique among the national parent to parent programs in that it incorporates parent involvement in the schools prominently in its program implementation.

Parent involvement in schools increases student success. Parent involvement is so important that both state and local programs that evaluate education include the level of parent involvement as a key indicator of improving and maintaining quality education

The Alaska program has a parent liaison in the school to answer questions, assist in identifying good parent mentors and help parents who would like to connect with other parents process the initial application.

Parent to Parent Support

A former program of PARENTS, Inc.

Have you ever wanted to find another parent to talk with about your child?  Are you a parent who’s “been there” and who is willing to help a new parent?

Then Parent to Parent networking is for you!

PARENTS, Inc.  Alaska’s statewide parent training and information center for children with special needs and their families in cooperation with other family support programs is creating a statewide parent to parent network that will connect families to offer support, share stories, and pass on tips. We’d like you to be part of the network.

Here’s how it will work

Training of parent’s who have “been there”: Call us about training in your community.  You will learn: The role of the supporting parent, what it is and what it is not; referral and matching process; how contacts you have made will be monitored and supported. The database: Tell us about your family and your experience with programs, providers, insurance, advocacy, special skills and talents.  We will add it to our computer database.  When a family wants to talk with another family about a particular disability, issue, we will search the database to find a match.  Families can get a match over the phone or by mail by contacting and PARENTS, Inc. office. You may discontinue your involvement at any time.

The directory: Helps those families who do not have Internet access find families who match their interests, needs and have volunteered to provide their experience and support by telephone contact and home visits.  This directory is printed every two years, it is in its third printing, and will be disseminated soon.

Support of parent’s who need to talk with another parent about a variety of topics including:  coping strategies that will help you support your special needs child, where to find support for yourself, information, family centered referrals, and how to communicate with and navigate systems of care.

Parent to Parent Volunteer Mentor Questionnaire

Alaska’s Parent-to-Parent program matches “veteran” family members with family members seeking support.  As a “veteran,” you have seen it before, been through the system and been through the struggles on a personal level.  Families who are newly confronting the struggles of caring for a child with disabilities or special needs respect and appreciate someone who has been in their shoes and already walked the path that they may have to walk.  They need your help and support.

In being a veteran parent or mentor, we are seeking family members who show:

  • Acceptance of their own child and adjustment to their family situation.
  • Ability to reach out and provide support to other families.
  • Ability to cope with other people’s problems and a tolerance of values and feelings that may be different from their own.
  • Willingness to share their own family story with others.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Maturity and empathy.
  • Time available to help.

With your commitment to the Parent-to-Parent program you will need to have taken the required training or be planning to take the training. Contact PARENTS, Inc. to find out what training is necessary for this program.

The attached questionnaire asks numerous questions about your family that will help us accurately match families to you.

Thank you for taking the time to volunteer for this program.

Parent to Parent Questionnaire

For “veteran” parents and trained advocates

This form is to gather as much information as possible about you and your family so that PARENTS, Inc. can make appropriate matches of new families who need help from you.  Your expertise is very valuable and sought by others in Alaska.  Please fill out as much as you can.  The more information you provide, the better we will be able to match people to you.

Name of Primary Caregiver:  _____________________________________________________________________

Address:  _______________________________________________________________________________________________


City ________________________         State __________     Zip Code _______________

Home Phone ________________                         Work Phone ________________________________________________

Fax Number _________________                       E-mail _____________________________________________________

Relationship:  (mother, father, foster parent, grandmother, grandfather, other _________________________)

Race:  (African-American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, _________________)

Sex:  (Male ____   Female ____)                       Date of Birth:  _______________________________________________

Highest Level of Education:  (high school, some college, BA, BS, etc.) ___________________________________

Occupation:  ____________________                Place of Employment: ________________________________________

Primary language spoken by you for the child with special needs:  (English, Sign Language, ______________)

Secondary/other language spoken for the child with special needs:  ____________________________________

Family marital status:  (married, divorced, remarried, separated, single, widowed, ______________________)

Religion:  ____________________________

Name of Spouse or Significant Other:  ____________________________________________________________

Work Phone:  ______________________

Relationship:  (mother, father, foster parent, grandmother, grandfather, other __________________________)

Race:  (African-American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, _________________)

Sex:  (Male ____  Female ____)                       Date of Birth:  _______________________________________________

Highest Level of Education:  (high School, Some college, BA, BS, etc.)  __________________________________

Sibling details/notes:  ____________________________________________________________________________


Areas of Experience:  (ADA, adoption, breast feeding, foster parenting, inclusion, legislation, managed care, school advocacy, other:  __________________________________________________________________________




Program participation/organizations and programs that you participate in:  (autism society, Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, Special Olympics, PARENTS Inc., local parent support group, other:  __________________________________________________________________________________________


Are you a parent consultant for another organization? _____   If yes, for whom?  _________________________


Additional information about yourself that you would like to share:  ___________________________________





Thank You

Six Types of Caring:

  • Parenting
  • Communicating
  • Volunteering
  • Learning at Home
  • Decision Making
  • Collaborating with Community


Parenting is the basic obligation of families.

The parent is the child’s first teacher.

Schools can assist families with parenting and child-rearing skills, understanding child and adolescent development, and setting home conditions that support children as students at each age and grade level.


  1. For the student:  Awareness of family supervision; respect for parents.
  2. For the parent:  Feeling of support from the school and other parents.
  3. For the teacher:  Understanding of families; cultures, concerns, goals, needs, and views of their children.

Sample Practices:

  1. Workshops, videotapes, computerized phone messages on parenting and child rearing at each age and grade level.
  2. Neighborhood meetings to help families understand schools and to help schools understand families.

Communicating – designing effective forms of school-to-home and home-to-school communications about school programs and children’s progress.


  1. For the student:  Awareness of own progress and of actions needed to maintain or improve learning.
  2. For the parent:  Responding effectively to student’s problems, being able to monitor and have an awareness of the child’s progress.
  3. For the teacher:  Increased diversity and use of communications with families and awareness of own ability to communicate clearly.

Sample Practices:

  1. Weekly or monthly folders of student work sent home for review and comments.
  2. Clear information on choosing schools or courses, programs and activities within schools.

Volunteering – Anyone who supports school goals and children’s learning or development in any way, at any place, and at any time, not just during the school day and at the school building.


  1. For the student:  Awareness of many skills, talents, occupations, and contributions of parents and other volunteers.
  2. For the parent:  Self-confidence about ability to work in school and with children or to take steps to improve own education.
  3. For the teacher:  Readiness to involve families in new ways, including those who do not volunteer at school.

Sample Practices:

  1. Parent room or family center for volunteer work, meetings, resources for families.
  2. Annual postcard survey to identify all available talents, times, and locations of volunteers.

Learning at Home – Help at home means encouraging, listening, reacting, praising, and guiding, monitoring, and discussing, not teaching school subjects.


  1. For the student:  View of parent as more similar to teacher and of home as more similar to school.
  2. For the parent:  Know how to support, encourage, and help student at home each year.
  3. For the teacher:  Respect of family time, better design of homework assignments and satisfaction with family involvement levels and support.

Sample Practices:

  1. Information on how to assist students to improve skills on various class and school assessments.
  2. Family participation in setting student goals each year and in planning for college and work.
  3. Regular schedule of homework that requires students discuss and interact with families.

Decision Making – Means a process of partnership, of shared views and actions toward shared goals, not just a power struggle between conflicting ideas.


  1. For the student:  Awareness of representation of families in school decisions.
  2. For the parent:  Input into policies at the school, district and state level that affects education for children.
  3. For the teacher:  Awareness of parent perspectives as a factor in policy development and decisions.

Sample Practices:

  1. Active PTA organization, advisory councils or committees (e.g. curriculum, safety, personnel, etc.)  for parent leadership and participation.
  2. Networks to link all families with parent representatives.

Collaborating with the Community – Community means all who are interested in and affected by the quality of education, not just those with children in the schools.


  1. For the student:  Increased skills and talents through enriched curricular and extracurricular experiences.
  2. For the parent:  Knowledge and use of local resources by family and child to increase skills and talents or to obtain needed services.
  3. For the teacher:  Openness to and skill in using mentors, business partners, community volunteers, and others to assist students and augment teaching practice.

Sample Practices:

  1. Information on community activities that link to learning skills and talents of students.
  2. Participation of alumni in school programs for students.
  3. Regular schedule of homework that requires students to discuss and interact with families.

What Your Tribe or Village Council Can Do: 

  1. What is your knowledge of the National Standards for parent/family involvement programs (see )?
  2. What is your knowledge of the Alaska Standards  (see The Alaska Department of Education Quality School Initiative – )?
  3. What is your knowledge of the Culturally Responsive Schools (see the Alaska Native Knowledge Network – )?
  4. Review the six types of parent/family involvement with your school board, general members, staff and  administration.
  5. Identify ways in which these standards support cultural values and beliefs.
    Do these standards support effective partnerships between schools, educators, elders, parents and youth in your community?
  6. How could these standards be put in place so they are culturally relevant?

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