by Lisa Thompson
Parenting can be overwhelming. Parenting a child with special needs can be especially overwhelming. Fortunately, there are many resources that can help a family navigate the difficult situations that arise when dealing with a disability.
One such resource is the Texas Partners Resource Network, a non-profit agency established in Texas in 1986 to assist families of children with all types of disabilities throughout the State.
The Partners Resource Network serves the entire state of Texas at no charge to families. The network is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. In Texas, there are four Parent Training and Information Centers, and our area falls into the PACT Project. The PACT Project is one of four federally funded Parent Training and Information Centers serving Texas parents of children and youth with disabilities ages 0-26. The PACT Project serves families living in Texas ESC regions 7, 8, 10, and 11.
PACT Project Director Shannon Rosson said PACT’s mission is to empower individuals with disabilities and their families to be effective advocates and decision makers, and to promote equal partnerships between parents and/or individuals with disabilities and professionals.
“Since 1986, Partners has provided training, information, and technical assistance to youth and families of infants, toddlers, children and young adults with all types of disabilities throughout the State of Texas,” she said.
This resource provides education and training to parents about a variety of topics including admission, review and denial hearings, individual education plans, educational rights, positive behavior supports, transition planning, early childhood Intervention, individualized family service plans, parent/professional partnerships, assertiveness and communication.
The agency also provides training to youth on similar topics, as well as leadership training for adults and students. PACT’s newsletters, toolkits, online courses, webinars and social media pages provide additional resources for parents and caregivers.
“Our families face many challenges, but our focus is helping them navigate the school system,” Rosson said. “We empower parents through education and help them learn how to be the best advocate for their child.”
Rosson is a parent to a child with a disability, as well as being an advocate and educator to others. She said she has always had a passion for helping families and children with disabilities.
Her oldest daughter, Ella, was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. She’s now 20 years old and in her second year of the Transition Program at their local school district.
Shannon and her husband of 25 years also have a 19-year-old daughter, Jenna, who is currently a freshman at Tyler Junior College.
The Partners Resource Network serves the entire state of Texas at no charge to families. The network is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
“I want parents to know that they should not accept what people say about their children and the services their children do or do not receive as fact,” Rosson said. “There is a lot of misinformation out there and we at PRN want to make sure parents know we are here to help.”
For more information about the Texas Partners Resource Network or the PACT Project, contact them at
[email protected] or 1.800.866.4726.