Program to Support Hartford Latino Parents of Children With Special Needs Receives Grant From Latino Endowment Fund

Latino parents of children in nine Hartford public schools will receive support to more effectively navigate the public school system and serve as advocates for their children thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Latino Endowment Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to Padres Abriendo Puertas, Inc (Parents Opening Doors).

Padres Abriendo Puertas (PAP) will accomplish these goals by bringing professionals and Latino parents together in its Hispanic Forum Education Project, a series of 12 biweekly informational programs. Held at different schools, the programs will focus on a wide variety of key issues including the development of self-advocacy skills, inclusive education, assistive technology and the development of communication skills to better speak on behalf of children. While PAP has provided similar services over the past 18 years, the educational landscape continues to change with the introduction of such government initiatives as “No Child Left Behind,” Common Core State Standards, and school choice programs including newer options such as magnet and charter schools.

“Having a child with special needs in school is a challenging situation for any parent,” said Luis Cabán, chair of the Latino Endowment Fund Steering Committee. “This situation can be even more difficult for a parent who may not speak English as their primary language or who faces other challenges when attempting to obtain the necessary support for their child. PAP has been a leader in the effort to provide Latino parents with the information, training and support they need to ensure that their children receive the services they need and deserve.”

During the next academic year, PAP will serve as a liaison and advocate for families of children with special needs helping to build stronger connections between parents, Hartford public schools and state education officials. PAP staff will also assist participating families in navigating the often complex special education system including the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and Planning and Placement Team (PPT) processes, ensure that information is provided in Spanish when necessary, and educate families on becoming more effective advocates for themselves and their children. Success of the program will be based on the number of parents participating in the 12 forum sessions with the goal of reaching 100 percent of all identified parents at the nine public schools. Another measure will be the number of parents who successfully participate in their children’s PPT meetings and special education services.

“The members of the board of directors for Padres Abriendo Puertas are thrilled to be part of the enthusiastic, forward-thinking endeavors of the organization. It is a genuine privilege to be able to assist concerned, deserving parents eager to educate themselves so that they can confidently and knowledgeably be active advocates for their children who attend Hartford schools,” said Kathy Bobenski, vice president of the board of directors of Padres Abriendo Puertas, INC. and a retired Hartford Public Schools teacher.

The Latino Endowment Fund was founded in 2003 by Latino leaders in Greater Hartford to increase philanthropy in their community and to strengthen nonprofits working to improve the quality of life for Latino residents. Members examine issues affecting the Latino community and recommend grants from the fund to address those issues. For more information, visit our Latino Endowment Fund page. 

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrates ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $600 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit or call 860-548-1888.