May We Introduce You To: PACER Center – Champions for Children with Disabilities®
by Lee Gehrls R&D Coordinator (Volunteer)
PACER Center is a nationally recognized organization that works to improve the lives of children from birth through young adults who have disabilities or special health care challenges as well providing support for their families. They are located in Bloomington, Minnesota and it is a 501 ( c) (3) nonprofit organization. PACER was founded in 1977 and began with one project called Parents Helping Parents. Today they have over 30 programs for families, students, professionals, and parent organizations and their philosophy of “Parents Helping Parents” is still strong. Many of their staff are parents with children who have special needs.
Learn About PACER
PACER’s website – https://www.pacer.org – has detailed information on the services and programs that are available. Here are a few of the services that are offered:
- Children’s Mental Health and Emotional or Behavioral Disorder Project
- Early Childhood
- Family-to-Family Health Information Center
- Free virtual workshops across the state and a virtual workshop archive
- Grandparent Group
- Juvenile Justice information
- Many publications which includes seven newsletters
- National Bullying Center
- National Parent Center on Transition and Employment, housing information
- Public Policy & Legislation on a state and Federal level
- Simon Technology Center – to learn about assistive technology that is available.
Perhaps the strongest support service PACER is known for is their Special Education work and support in the Individual Education Program (IEP) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, also called 504 Planning – https://www.pacer.org/parent/understanding-the-spec-ed-process.asp .
Going through the process of establishing an IEP or 504 Plan for your child can be confusing and overwhelming. PACER can be a support to parents in learning about their child’s Special Education rights, getting started and working through the IEP & 504 process, and resolving any conflicts that might arise.
PACER also provides free workshops statewide on a wide range of topics that include education, life, and special needs challenges. Currently due to Covid-19 all workshops are virtual and you must register online.
You can always find a listing of future workshops – https://www.pacer.org/workshops/ – and you will want to check the list often as they continue to add additional workshop options all year long. We also list many of their workshops on our Event Calendar on our website – https://adaminc.org/youth-adhd-resources/#events .
I encourage parents to take some time to become familiar with PACER’s website and all the services they offer. They provide translated material in Hmong, Spanish, and Somali also. PACER can provide helpful information for health care, mental health care, social workers, and educators too. If you have a concern or a problem, you can always reach them by:
- Email: https://www.pacer.org/forms/
- Phone: 952-838-9000 or Toll-free: 800-537-2237
- Fax: 952-838-0199
- Mail: PACER Center, Inc. 8161 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington, MN 55437
They are open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm CST, Monday – Friday
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