Today, we are featuring Mompreneur Pam Labellarte from From Advocacy to Action: Empowering Parents to Transform the Lives of Their Children with Disabilities.
From Advocacy to Action empowers parents to transform the lives of their children with disabilities. Pam became an expert at this subject not only through previous work, but also as an advocate for her own children. Two of her 3 children have disabilities, and Pam has navigated the same waters you are struggling with as a parent.
If your child (ages 2-18) has an individualized education plan (IEP) for anything: occupational therapy, speech, resource classroom, other therapy, etc. Pam can help you determine the next steps. What is missing? What else does my child need? Is s/he eligible for additional resources? Am I not being heard? Do I need mediation? Do I need an attorney? Additionally, she can help identify children as needing services and get the children assessed and help set personal goals, even if there is no IEP yet. Pam is also available as a resource for children 18+ for transitional services.
How did you come up with the name?
The name I first used was “advocacy in action” which sounds like a “nice to have”, I wanted a name that was a “must have”. [Pam is an expert at negotiation; she makes sure she knows where both parties are coming from. Pam notes that learning advocacy and taking it once step further to make something happen, she knows the law and is great at working well with other people to get things done.]
What was the catalyst that started your business?
In 2008 I started my business, I liked the flexibility of working for myself and I loved educating parents on their rights.
Has it been difficult to get your business up and running, while being a stay-at-home mom, managing a household, etc?
I worked for 20+ years in corporate America, had been an IT consultant and I was already very organized from being a volunteer in this field. I was all set up with the foundation to be in business. So, I possessed the knowledge to set up basic processes including billing and designing my web site. I previously worked in the market and already had a great network. I built my business easily through referrals. “I think I made the right decision” she states, after she had psychologists and lawyers referring her out of the gate.
What is your inspiration?
My kids, of course. My daughter inspires me by how hard she works. And my son is inspiring by how he always deals with challenges so well.
What is the most important thing you want our readers to know?
Parents know their children best, don’t ever give up, you’re not alone. Resources are available for you. Educate yourself.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Seeing a parent take the ball and run with it. They “get it” and become assertive. I like negotiations with schools and I like building relationships. I also love hearing stories through thank you emails. It’s fulfilling to get status updates about kids thriving in their new learning environment.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Parents are angry – telling them to take that energy and make good happen is challenging. They need to learn to use it in a positive way and keep the anger away from their child, it only builds barriers. Anger hinders results. Sometimes it’s very hard to deal with broken trust from the school district, so I like to be able to step in and help.
How difficult was it to get your business up and running while still caring for your child and other responsibilities?
I have a 19 year old daughter with Down’s syndrome and a 23 year old son with ADD. My daughter had early intervention as her disability was identified at birth . I took some time off work to get my children the services they needed. I began to support and educate others in the same situation. It began as volunteer, I went to training, immersed myself in everything special-ed. I felt very lucky to work part time and juggle it all. Then I worked full time for 5 years at the Lake County Center for Independent Living and learned much more about other disabilities and the importance of teaching self-advocacy to individuals with a disability. I focused on teaching and modeling skills for the parent to understand what they need to ask for. I want to help them know when to ask for data, how to interpret it and address learning gaps.
What do you do to recharge?
“That is a problem, I don’t” Pam admits. Her job is very solitary, so she very much enjoys getting a chance to connect with others. Pam enjoys networking and having a sounding board for her ideas. And, like all moms, Pam also enjoys unwinding with her children and husband.
Visit From Advocacy 2 Action’s website to learn more about her services.
Pam is offering a $25 visa Gift Card to one of our readers who help spread the word about what she does, please share this post and enter the rafflecopter below!