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New Year New Boss

   Our new governor Charlie Baker has barely stepped into his position and monetary challenges already await. He says a $765 million budget
deficit must be dealt with very soon.
  Governor Baker has already stated there is an immediate hiring freeze for state employees. Those of us who have traveled down this
road before know what’s coming next. It will be chopping block time, and that often means social programs and services go first.
  I’m asking Governor Baker to not eviscerate programs such as DDS and DMH. They have already taken hard cuts over the past years, and it was just recently that funds to help the disabled have been brought back to previous levels.
  Keep these programs funded at their current levels. The people they help very lives depend on it.
Sharon Marie
***************

Is your school obeying the law?
The Massachusetts DOE’s website has a page called “Program Quality Assurance Services.”
   This lists which public school districts are up for review to see who is or is not in compliance with education requirements – including Special Education laws.
  For example, in 2015 a few of the school districts up for review include:

 Attleboro
 Boston
 Everett
 Mansfield
 Taunton
 West Springfield 
  Find out when your school district was reviewed, or when their next scheduled review will take place, on the DOE’s Coordinate Program Review Page at http://bit.ly/1rLhyyX 
  I hope this page is a useful tool to help ensure that your child is receiving the best special education supports available in your school district.  

Sharon Marie
**************


Here We Go Again
It's hard to get out of beach and pool mode. But summer is almost over and it’s time to embrace another school and work year.
  There is always lots of commotion with moving forward to this next stage of the season; IEPS, medical forms, becoming familiar with the new aides for our child, and organizing the other kids’ schedules around our special child’s particular needs.
  The good news is that once everyone is settled in, we can enjoy the organization and quiet moments that come when all the planning is finally working.
 And then it will be time to make our holiday lists…
  Have a great school year!

Sharon Marie
***************


Pass the National Background Check Bill
The Arc of Massachusetts has asked that everyone share this important message. In part, it reads:
  “Please act on this alert for HB4125 An Act to Require National Criminal Background Checks (for Staff who work with individuals served by the Departmental of Developmental Services - DDS)
   Right now only Massachusetts criminal background checks are conducted for those working with individuals served by DDS…If someone lives in Rhode Island, New Hampshire or other neighboring state we have no way of knowing if they have a record in that state or in another state from which they recently moved. 
   Passage of this bill is important to protect a vulnerable population from sexual or other serious abuse…"

   To find out more and submit a message to your lawmaker, visit the Arc of Massachusetts National Background Check Bill page.
  
Sharon Marie
****************


A Miracle for Justina 
The case of Justina Pelletier is the nightmare that any special-needs parent fears.
  Justina is the 15-year-old from West Hartford, Connecticut that is being held against her family’s wishes at a Boston hospital since February 2014.
  There is way more to the story than can be related in this short blog. However if you visit www.justiceforjustina.com you will see her parents side of the issue and case for bringing her home. A more newsworthy view can be found by just searching Justina’s name in the internet.
  No matter how you find information, it is important that as a parent you educate yourself on what a worst case scenario can look like when parents and doctors disagree.
  I hope that Justina goes home to her family soon. And I hope this never happens again.
Sharon Marie
**************


Next Stop
“Mom, where I am I going next?”
  For most teens, an answer from a parent may be “to your room to finish your homework", or “stop texting your friends and I’ll tell you.”
  However this question came from my special-needs 19-year-son. He wondered what his disability supports will be when he graduates from his out-of-district school.
  I don’t know.
  The DDS says no even though he was in their system since age 3, supported by diagnostic reports taller and thicker than Manhattan phone books.
  The DMH says no, even though those same reports document that his OCD, ADHD, anxiety, and other co-morbid issues must be addressed by a comprehensive mental health support system.
  Seems they think that the DDS should take him. Or I should look elsewhere.
  And when I explore other disability organizations, they usually won’t accept someone not funded by the DDS or DMH.
  No wonder so many people fall through the cracks in our system.
  For any state agency legislator that may happen to read this blog, please tell me how these roadblocks are supposed to help the very people you are designated to serve?
  My young adult, and many other young adults need your help. Today.

Sharon Marie
 
***********
 

More Blogs

Massachusetts' Disability Events 

 Special Needs Camp Fairs - January 2015:  Boston event dates are January 22nd. More camp fairs and expos will be added in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, visit our Camps Page 2015. 

  A Vacation Survival Guide for Travelling with Students with Disabilities: January 26, 2015, Somerville.. Planning ahead with proper medications, equipment, and itineraries make it seem difficult to get away with your family. Somerville Public Schools BCBAs and Home Trainers will provide a checklist for traveling with students with disabilities to help make trips easier. For more information or to RSVP contact dhiggins@k12.somerville.ma.us or 617-625-6600 ext 6829 or visit the Somerville SEPAC page.

 Families with a Chronic Complex Medical Condition: Share your voice and concerns about Care Coordination Challenges, Home Healthcare Issues, Insurance Obstacles, Caregiver Burnout and more with the Franciscan Helps Families Connect Parent Project. This family survey includes gift certificates and more. Please visit the Franciscan sponsor link to see if your family qualifies.

 Agreeing To Disagree: How To Effectively Resolve Special Education Disputes With Your School District: January 26, 2015. At the Lane School Multipurpose Room, Bedford, 7 p.m. The Bedford Special Education Parent Advisory Council guest speaker Daniel J. Heffernan will discuss how to have a “successful” relationship with a school district, key components of special education law, building a strong case for appropriate educational services, when it’s best to be aggressive or conciliatory, and best avenues for resolving disputes. For more information visit The Bedford SEPAC

 

 For Boston Families with a Chronic Medical Condition, Learning Disability Or Mental Health ProblemFocus Groups: January 28, 2015, Dorchester. If you live in Boston with a child who has a chronic medical condition, learning disability or mental health problem such as asthma, ADHD, autism, diabetes, hearing impairment or other condition, then consider attending these focus group held by The Boston Public Health Commission. Share your experiences of caring for your child and what services your child needs to thrive. Participants will receive a $25 gift card. To find out how to qualify, contact rachel.berman@bmc.org or call 617-414-7472.

 Raising Healthy Children in Challenging Times: February 5, 2015, Westboro. Dr. Robert Evans will discuss how to raise children of character, caring, and competence, resisting negative influences, fostering strength and resilience in children, key dilemmas in raising children and adolescents today, and suggestions for successful coping at home and school. Dr. Evans is a psychologist and author of “Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with The Crisis in Childrearing." To RSVP or for more information contact machnika@westboroughk12.org or 508-836-7700 x2  or visit the Westborough SEPAC

 Special Education Surrogate Parent Training 2015: Amherst, Boston, Marshfield, Northhampton, Wareham:  Federation for Children with Special Needs is recruiting Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESP) for a child in your area who needs a voice in the classroom.
SESPs make special education decisions for students in Massachusetts whose parents are unknown or unavailable. This training helps potential volunteers learn more about what is involved in becoming an SESP, about the students eligible for SESPs,  and the impact of trauma on their lives. For more cities, dates or information, visit the FCSN Events Page or contact hstallkamp@fcsn.org at 671-399-8342


 Inclusive Camps & Activities in Massachusetts for 2015:  From Ayer to Boston to Plymouth, Sturbridge, Worcester and more, camps and programs to help your special child stay busy, engaged and included by enjoying movies, sports, recreation, outings and social activities. See the Camp Page for listings. 

 Boston Museum of Science Disability Prototype Testers: The Boston Museum of Science is seeking visitors with all disabilities to test new exhibit prototypes, explore the museum, and give feedback to help improve their accessibility.
  Testing includes free admission to exhibit halls for the day and free parking in the Museum's garage. To participate and give the Museum feedback fill out their Boston Museum of Science on line form or contact 617-589-4438 or siacovelli@mos.org


Sensory Friendly Films are now on the Recreation Page.


 Find more Massachusetts Recreation on our Recreation Page

Special Needs Recreation for all ages and abilities in Greater Massachusetts can be found on our Recreation Page. Please also visit our Event Submission page to learn if your event can be submitted.

SPED Child and Teen is not responsible for any listed events' contents, or changes in content, times, dates, fees, or speakers. Please check with event host to verify details.

SPED Child and Teen does not endorse any event, listing or product on this site, and all content is for information purposes only.
Teens and Young Adults 

 Planning A Life - Making the Most Out of High School: February 27th & 28th, 2015, Seven Hills, Worcester. For parents of students with disabilities aged 14 to 21, educators and professionals. Topics: VISION Development, Self Advocacy, Self Determination  • Employment, Housing and Postsecondary Options  • Transition Planning Form and Assessments  • Community Connections and more.
  Fees apply. For more conference information contact tmclaugh@fcsn.org 617.236.7210 - ext 336 or registration info at 800-331-0688 or wmorton@fcsn.org or visit www.fcsn.org

 Shared Living Workshop “An Insider’s Perspective”: January 27, 2015: Framingham, Advocates Services Administration Office. Hear from a panel of parents, providers, and professionals about Shared Living, which is a home that provides supports uniquely tailored to your loved one’s needs and is an alternative to a group home. For families, caregivers, and individuals with disabilities. For more information visit www.advocates.org or contact 508-628-6801 FamilyServices@Advocates.org

  "Transition Talks" Parent Groups: January 15th, Fitchburg, Seven Hills Family Support Center. Free and open to the public. Transition Specialist Robin Foley will discuss the special needs journey and transition for ages 14-22. Topics include student visions, post secondary opportunities, etc. For the Fitchburg Support Center contact ssnow@sevenhills.org or 978-602-8696. For the Sturbridge Seven Hills Center's times and dates call 508-796-1954.



 EPIC Service Warriors Community Service & Education for Youth with Disabilities:  A community service and education program for youth with disabilities between the ages of 16-23 where members complete monthly community service projects as a team in the City of Boston and surrounding areas. Includes a minimum of 11 community service and 5 leadership development workshops.  Fees apply, a limited number of scholarships available. For more information contact The Epic Service Warriors or 781-388-4340 info@epicleaders.org

 Self Advocacy Documentary Looking for Massachusetts Youth ages 14 - 22: In collaboration with Emerson College, The Spotlight Program has an opportunity for teens and young adults ages 14-22 to participate in a self-advocacy documentary project at a reduced rate. They are currently enrolling for the Winter semester beginning January 10th. For more information visit The Spotlight Program or Families can also visit www.spotlightprogram.com  for more information or contact 978-624-2310

 ImprovBoston Disability Scholarship: The No Limits Media and ImprovBoston scholarship is to help a person with disabilities learn improvisational comedy. People with disabilities will perform alongside improvisers of every type. Eligibility requirements must be met:
• You must be at least eighteen 18 years old
• You must be able to engage productively in collaboration with others
• Only complete applications will be considered.
For more information contact eguadette@fcsn.org or visit ImproveBoston Disability Scholarship page.


 Planning A Life 2015- Making the Most Out of High School: Boston, Holyoke  and Worcester. For parents of students with disabilities aged 14 to 21, educators and other professionals. Topics:
 VISION Development, Self Advocacy/Self Determination
•  Employment, Housing and Postsecondary Options
•  Transition Planning Form, Transition Assessments
•  Community Connections and more…
Dates:

•  Boston TBA

 February 27/28, 2015 Seven Hills, Worcester
 March 27/28, 2015 Holyoke
Fees apply. Families scholarships available through the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC) at 617-770-7676 . For more conference information contact tmclaugh@fcsn.org 617.236.7210 - ext 336 or registration info at 800-331-0688 or wmorton@fcsn.org or visit www.fcsn.org

 NEXT STEP: College Success & Independent Living program: Boston. For students, grades 9-12, who present with a social language deficit, Aspergers Syndrome, NLF, or related learning differences, and are serious about attending college after high school.
NEXT STEP gives students a chance to hone executive functioning, problem solving, and self-advocacy skills that are necessary for living with other students on a college campus. For more information, contact
nextstep@jbcc.harvard.edu or 617-278-4119

                  
  "Advocates in Motion" Social Program: T
his Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress program provides fun, inclusive, interactive events and fosters social relationships for teens and young adults ages 13-22. AIM participants develop leadership and self advoacy skills, form meaningful relationships with peers and build their self-confidence in an encouraging environment. AIM members meet one Sunday afternoon per month from September to May. There are a variety of social, recreational and volunteer activities throughout the year. Contact cendres@mdsc.org or 781.221.0224 or visit www.mdsc.org .

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