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M-PACT educates parents about programs for kids with special needs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With the start of school just a couple of weeks away for many children in the metro, a non-profit group wants parents to know about free training available to help them advocate for children with disabilities or special needs.

The Missouri Parent Training and Information Center is at 83rd and State Line Road.

M-PACT, as this group is know, helps parents understand the unique programs and services schools have for kids who need special help.

Tammy Griddine says she was overwhelmed when she tried to enroll her daughter, Sydnee, in school. The 7-year-old is deaf and needs special education. But as a parent, Griddine didn't know about IEPs and IFSPs and all the other strange language educators at school were using when talking about her daughter. M-PACT helped educate and train Griddine on the programs and the support that was available -- and how best to get it for her daughter.

"Every day you cry because you just really don't know what to expect," Griddine said. "Especially when it's time for them to go to school. That's a parent's biggest fear. If your child can't communicate or can't hear, that's a parent's biggest fear."

Griddine had a parent mentor from M-PACT help her get speech therapy and an interpreter included in the school district's special education for her daughter. M-PACT is funded by the state, with the goal of helping parents learn all the ins and outs of the special education system set up by school districts.

Parent training is free. And M-PACT's next session is at 83rd and State Line on August 21 at 1:30 p.m. Griddine says once parents go through the training, they are much better prepared to get the best possible services for their special needs children from local school districts.