November 2013: Equity Work that Matters Spotlight!

Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs

Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs (EPICS) is a non-profit community parent resource center and home to the National Native American Parent Technical Center. Their efforts are two prong: 1) Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC) – they provide advocacy, training support and information dissemination to parents of Native American children with disabilities and/or special healthcare needs from birth to age 26 years old; 2) Native American Parent Technical Assistance Center (NAPTAC) – they provide Universal, Targeted and Intensive Technical Assistance to Parent Training and Information Centers (PTI’s) and Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC) nationwide to help build their capacity in serving Native American families in their funded jurisdiction which is typically per state.

EPICS’ database reports that from 10/01/12 to 09/30/13, they have made 1661 contacts of both professionals and parents combined across all grants. They also have been awarded a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Education – Office of Special Education Programs to be the Native American Parent Technical Assistance Center nationally serving all Parent Centers funded by OSEP. One of the staff members who is a trainer/advocate was elected to serve on the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) board. Their funding has increased within the last 2 years due to the quality of work they have implemented.


EPICS is unique in that it incorporates spirituality and cultural identity as its core in working with Native American families. Especially when it comes to assisting a family who has a child with a disability or special healthcare needs as cultural perceptions vary from tribe to tribe across the nation including access to quality services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education for Improvement Act better known as IDEA 2004. They also understand the barriers that exist in accessing services, cultural and language differences, and therefore their staff has made tremendous strides in working collaboratively across systems and sectors of education to ensure that Native American children with disabilities receive Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and equitable access to any and all education opportunities from birth and beyond high school. EPICS has been strategic in ways they communicate with Native families about access to services and work effortlessly to grow stronger advocates and self-advocates of both the parents and their children. EPICS has also facilitated trusting relationships with tribal communities in New Mexico and the southwestern region by becoming more involved locally and being mindful and understanding of cultural differences and needs as they vary among tribal communities and engaging them to policy makers, advocates, protection, and advocacy. Lastly, EPICS has translated IDEA related materials in the Navajo language in both audio and print.


For more information about Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs (EPICS) you can visit their website at: www.epicsnm.org or call them at: 1-888-499-2070 (toll-free) or email them at: info@epicsnm.org.