The vision of PAVE began in 1979 when Pierce County was identified as one of six (6) locations in the United States to received training regarding Special Education rights of children and parents. Thirty parents received this training. Their goal was for a parent-directed organization to provide peer training to families throughout Washington State. They forged the path with their hopes for their children and for all children within Washington who had disabilities. To help this movement, a clearinghouse named Closer Look (later known as NICHCY) provided intense training for these pioneering parents on the laws. This was the beginning of the PAVE parent movement within Washington State.
The organization has always carried the name of PAVE. The first acronym came from Closer Look and stood for Parents Advocating Vocational Education. Over time the name evolved to Parents Are Vital in Education and remained for 18 years. As the organization’s audience and projects expanded the name became too limiting. In 2009 the acronym became and remains to the present day Partnerships for Action, Voices for Empowerment.
The philosophy and foundation has always been parents are the expert as they know their child best, until their child is able to advocate for themselves parents will play a critical role. The term parent has evolved over the years to include the legal guardian, adopted parent(s) and other family members such as grandparents, siblings, etc. Over the years, PAVE staff-members continue to play a vital role in the organization’s history. The majority are parents and now siblings of children and/or adults who have disabilities and self-advocates are a part of PAVE’s rich and unfolding tapestry. The value continues to be on knowledge to help address a myriad of issues that impact the lives of their children and families. Real life experience, expertise and a passion for “Being the change we want to see in the world” can also be found among the staff, board, volunteers and interns at PAVE.
From its humble roots funding was received for the first program, the Statewide Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center. The array of programs continues to ebb and flow over the years. The mission remains the guiding force and the programs cover many facets of life of individuals with disabilities. PAVE continues to demonstrate that parents are the experts and that by supporting and educating them, families will gain the voice and skills that can benefit their family.