Parent Advocacy and Collaboration with Schools

Consultant:  Anne Kresta, M.Sc.

This workshop and its variations are aimed at parents to help them understand effective ways and means of advocating for their children within the education system. It can include elements of individual education planning, contributing to effective meetings with school personnel and collaborative problem solving. Anne calls on her personal experience as well as her co-advocacy work with many parents of children with special needs over the past 15+ years in Manitoba.

Parents of students with special needs require an expanded skill set. They will be involved in individual planning and need to know how to collaborate with educational personnel. Along with the students themselves and school personnel, parents need to envision a long-term picture of adulthood, then develop yearly and shorter-term instructional plans. All of that works better when parents themselves are skillful advocates and collaborators. Schools and school divisions might engage Anne to facilitate learning activities to develop those skills.

The time span for single workshops can range from 1.5 to 3 hours depending upon content. The recommended approach is a course of three to five workshops that develop concrete skills and understandings over a few months.

Anne Kresta is a parent, advocate, presenter and researcher who contributes to improving inclusive education for all children. She began working in community service and inclusive education in 1998 when it became apparent that two of her three children had neurodevelopmental disorders that affected learning and functioning in a typical classroom setting. Already a proven researcher at the time, she quickly developed skills to advocate for her own children’s schooling. Then, recognizing the broader need and her ability to make a positive difference, she expanded her work into helping other parents, schools and community services to respond more effectively with all persons who require additional supports. From 2009-2014, she worked as Community Living Manitoba’s point person for educational and community initiatives. She has written and presented extensively and has been involved in provincial, national and international initiatives.