Based on community empowerment principles seen in various community capacity building programs, the Parent Mentor Initiative (PMI) was uniquely developed by San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center (SG/PRC) in 2016 and implemented in Partnership with Alma Family Services focusing on the cities of El Monte, South El Monte, Baldwin Park, La Puente and Pomona. The PMI began with providing 3-hour training sessions over five weeks to groups of selected SG/PRC parents to help them better understand their own child’s disability, and to become more familiar with regional center paid services as well as generic and community services. Training sessions were provided by Alma Family Services’ experienced trainers in English and Spanish. From the larger group of parents who completed the preliminary training, Alma interviewed and hired up to ten (10) parents to become Parent Mentors, para-professionals to assist and support other parents in learning to better access and utilize regional center purchased services, as well as utilize generic and community resources. Alma continued the training and supervision following hiring the Mentors to implement the support for up to 100 total parents per year.
The main goal of the Parent Mentors is to assist other SG/PRC parents who have not successfully utilized regional center services in the past to better understand their child’s disability and to become more independent and effective in advocating for their child’s developmental disability service needs.