Empowering families, improving lives...everyday

Discover ECAC

We are committed to improving the lives and education of ALL children everyday.

ECAC figure iconDiscover our mission and how we empower families and improve lives through our many resources​, including: 

Our mission

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Providing resources, assisting families

ECAC helps parents navigate the special education system, know their rights, and use their voice. We provide information, support, training and resources to assist families caring for children with special needs from birth to age 26. We also support young adults with disabilities in becoming self-advocates and leaders and the educators and professionals who serve them.

As parents of special needs children, we understand.

ECAC’s Parent Educators are parents of children with special needs. We approach this work with practical knowledge and personal experience. We know that families are their child’s first and most influential teacher. We assist families in also becoming their child’s best advocate in school, the community and in life.

Providing connections for support

ECAC staff are not lawyers and we not do we have the answer to every question that families have regarding their child’s success. We can provide connections to community and state resources that can support families.

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North Carolina's PTI Center

ECAC is the state’s designated Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) and receives funding from
the federal Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.

Who we serve

Our history

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Connie Hawkins (center) receiving The Deborah Greenblatt Distinguished Service Award with Ryan Platt, (left) Board President of the Arc of North Carolina and John Nash (right), Executive Director of the Arc of North Carolina

ECAC is a nonprofit organization created in 1984 by Connie Hawkins and Frank Graziadei, two parents with children with special needs. With the help of Richard White, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, they wrote North Carolina’s first grant to fund the Parent Training and Information Center (PTI). Their experience as parents of children with disabilities, compelled them to help find support for other families of children with special needs. 

Connie Hawkins was both ECAC’s founder and Executive Director for 34 years. Frank Graziadei, has returned as a Board Member. Both Connie and Frank are still advocating for a free and appropriate education for ALL children with a special focus on child with disabilities.

Continuing to grow our services

Today, ECAC continues this legacy of support to North Carolina families with children with special needs age birth – 26 years of age. We have continued to grow and expand our services to now serve young people with disabilities by helping them to develop self-advocacy and leadership skills. We pride ourselves on providing high quality, useful and relevant services to families, youth and the professionals that serve them.

Learn more and get started!

Meet our energetic team

Get to know our dedicated team members—committed to empowering families and improving lives!

Find resources for parents and families

We realize that navigating the special education process can be both challenging and frustrating. We can help.

Discover resources and education

Through our Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center, we offer numerous resources from disability-specific to family support.