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Frequently asked questions


What is the Rhode Island Parent Information Network?

The Rhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN) is the federally designated Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) funded by the Office of Special Education Programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The PTIC ‘s focus is on educating, training and supporting families that are raising children (birth to 26 years of age) with disabilities and the professionals working with them.

PTIC philosophy:

  • Families make the difference
  • All children can succeed given the right support
  • Every child is worth our investment
  • Children do best when schools and families work together in partnership
  • As children grow they can take increasing ownership of their education and future




What Is Parent Involvement and Why Does It Matter?

It  has long been recognized that parent involvement positively impacts children’s performance in school. A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement clearly documents the facts (Henderson and Mapp, 2002):

  • When parents talk to their children about school, expect them to do well, help them plan for college, and make sure that out-of-school activities are constructive; their children do better in school.
  • When schools engage families in ways that are linked to improving learning, students make greater gains.
  • When schools build partnerships with families that respond to their concerns and honor their contributions, they are successful in sustaining connections that are aimed at improving school achievement.
  • When families and communities organize to hold poorly performing schools accountable, studies suggest that school districts make positive changes in policy, practice and resources.



What is special education?

Special education is defined as specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.  Related services are services that are needed to assist children with disabilities to benefit from special education.

For more information about Special Education, or to talk to a parent information specialist, call us at 401-270-0101 or Toll Free within the US at 1-800-464-3399 or email us at:


What are the steps in the Rhode Island special education process?

The steps in the Rhode Island special education process are:

  • Referral
  • Evaluation
  • Determination of Eligibility
  • Development and Approval of the Individualized Educational Program (IEP)
  • Determination of Educational Placement
  • Ongoing Monitoring

For more information contact us at 1-401-270-0101, or use our Contact Us form or attend one of our free workshops (see our workshop calendar on the "Training & Learning" page).


What is an IEP?

The IEP is the foundation of the student's educational program. It is a written document, developed by a team of individuals (which includes the educators and parent(s) of the student) for the purpose of educating a student with a disability. 


What information should I have ready when I call Rhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN) regarding a Special Education issue?

The Resource Center receives over 4,000 calls per year regarding the Special Education process.

Please note: if you are having a medical emergency or in a crisis situation, please call 911.

When calling the Resource Center at RIPIN, be prepared to share the following with an Intake Specialist:

  • Your name
  • Contact information (phone, mailing address, email)
  • The reason for your call (briefly)
  • Best time of day to reach you
  • Your language preference for a returned call

The Intake Specialist will take your information and notify an appropriate staff person (Resource Specialist) to follow up with you for specialized information based on your need. You will receive a call back as soon as possible, or within 24-48 hours, depending on the volume of calls being received.

When talking with a Resource Specialist for Special Education, please have the following documents nearby, if available:

  • Your child's IEP, 504 Plan, report card, progress reports & any correspondence with the school
  • Copies of recent evaluations
  • List of other agencies you are working with

You can start your journey of empowerment by viewing the webinars Basic Rights in Special Education or Section 504 on our training page . This will help you develop specific questions regarding your child's education.