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PALS November 2010 - Speaker Cindy Duch from The PEAL Center

Our guest speaker was Cindy Duch from the PEAL Center. Ms. Duch is a parent advisor with PEAL (Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership Center)

Ms. Duch explained how the eastern part of PA had a parent education program (PEN – Parent Education Network), but the western part of the state did not. PEAL grew out of that need and now serves 43 counties in western and central PA. They help parents of children from birth to age 26 with disabilities or special health care needs. They will help with advocacy over the phone or if you need someone in person to help with an IEP meeting or other issues, they are available as well. These services are provided free of charge for PA residents. They can be reached at 412-281-4404 or 1-866-950-1040.

Each year for the last 4 years PEAL has hosted a conference on inclusive education. This coming year the 2-day conference will be held April 11-12, 2011, entitled “Discovering Genuine Relationships” at the Radisson in Green Tree. These conferences are fabulous and really provide a bounty of good information. There are parent scholarships available. More information can be obtained thru their web site

PEAL conducts 3-part mini series each spring and fall. The next one coming up this fall includes: Part 1 – Developing a strong IEP – look at an annotated IEP Part 2 – Communicating with your IEP team Part 3 – Parent rights

Some trainings sponsored by PEAL are also on uTube.

PEAL also has a division called the Family to Family Health Information Project (F2F). This division helps families of children with special health care needs.

PEAL distributes a quarterly newsletter that includes pertinent information that families need to know as well as stories about children with disabilities. It is written in both English and Spanish. PEAL had done a survey on what parents of children with disabilities thought was a pressing issue. The overwhelming response was recreation and extracurricular activities. There is more about this in the newsletter.

We are pleased to announce that PEAL has a good working relationship with the Fox Chapel School District and especially the transition coordinator from the High School, Stacie Dojonovic.

Our meeting included the introduction of those in attendance and a little bit about why they were at the meeting. Individual issues were discussed and parents left the meeting with more insight into dealing with their child’s needs. There were 15 people in attendance including the guest speaker.

Chris Baldwin gave out information about the PALS teacher tea in June 2011. Parents can nominate a teacher who has done an exceptional job during the school year for $20 and the teacher will be able to attend the tea with other FCASD teachers and administration at Long Vue Country Club.

PALS teacher grant – PALS donates $250 each year for the past 4 years to a teacher who requests money and is selected by the PALS board, for classroom enhancements that will be beneficial to special needs kids as well as the general education kids. We need to encourage parents to tell the teachers to apply for the grant.

Our next meeting is January 11, 2011, and the topic is “Best Buddys”. It will be held at 7pm at Boyd Community Center.

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