Founded in 1978, the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) was one of the first parent training and information centers funded by the US Department of Education to help parents of students with disabilities understand their rights and responsibilities of special education. For over 20 years, PEATC has gained national recognition for training programs that build collaboration between families and professionals. Our workshops and publications promote positive working relationships that can lead to increased opportunities, possibilities and success for individuals with disabilities.

PEATC’s Philosophy

The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) believes that children with disabilities reach their full potential when families and professionals enjoy an equal and respectful partnership. PEATC believes that:

Mission Statement

The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center assists the families of children with disabilities through education, information and training. PEATC builds parent-educational partnerships to promote success in school and community life through:

Collaboration with and technical assistance to schools, state and local agencies parent resource centers and community organizations.

About NEXT STEPS: The Transition Series

In the mid-1980’s PEATC began developing the NEXT STEPS Workshops for families and professionals to plan for life in the community and supported employment. Over the years, these materials have been updated and refined and are used by NEXT STEPS Transition Training Teams throughout the country. Trainers have been parents, educators and adult service professionals. Both parents and professionals have gained knowledge, skills and ideas at the workshops.

The first NEXT STEPS: The Transition Series workshops include 1) Transition: Making it in the Real World, 2) Transition Plans: Roadmaps to the Future, 3) Self-Advocacy and Supports: Keys to Independence, 4) Moving On: Life in the Community, 5) Getting Ready: Preparing for Work while in School, and 6) Planning Ahead: Future Finances and Supports. There are currently over 100 NEXT STEPS Teams in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Illinois.

Though NEXT STEPS workshops have enjoyed great success and participants consistently report that they have a better idea of the transition process and how they can move to their goals for positive futures for students with disabilities, the first six NEXT STEPS workshops were not designed specifically for students with disabilities to participate. This has not kept students from attending training sessions. In fact, some young adults with disabilities have become trainers.

In response to the current thinking about leadership and self-determination for individuals with disabilities, in 1996, PEATC received funding from the Rehabilitation Services Administration to develop two new workshops in the NEXT STEPS: The Transition Series, adding self-advocates to the training team. These two new workshops help self-advocates and their "partners" consisting of educators, adult service professionals and family members. The new workshops are 7) Adult Life: Effective Partnerships and 8) Adult Life: Accessing Services.

Though NEXT STEPS training has been an excellent way to learn about employment and independent living opportunities and build networks and partnerships that can only occur when participants have opportunities to apply their knowledge and plan together. However, in today’s busy world, everyone does not have the opportunity to devote the time attending workshops. This Guide to Future Planning has been developed to help a self advocates and their partners begin to think about the strengths, hopes, needs and dreams of students in special education and plan for a promising future after high school.

Guide Developers

The PEATC team developed the Guide with the help of a Design Team of nine youth and adults with varying disabilities ranging in age from 15 to 36. These self-advocates helped the developers at PEATC put together the Guide to Future Planning. The Design Team members were also members of the larger Advisory Committee that included parents, representatives from local and state adult service agencies, and educators.


Design Team

The Design Team was a group of self-advocates that gathered several times to lend their expertise, experience and advice in content and helped design the guide:

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee included the Design Team, parents, professionals from education and human service agencies and the project team:

Graduate Students who assisted with the project


PEATC logo Click the PEATC logo to go to the PEATC homepage. Click the stairway to begin the Guide to Future Planning. stairway