Exceptional Times is a monthly electronic newsletter produced by
 Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans and 
Louisiana Parent Training & Information Center,
a project of FHF of GNO

Exceptional Times 
February 2018

Here We Go Again!
Can we please stop this insanity? 

By:  Mary Jacob

Fis*cal cliff
A situation in which a particular set of financial factors causes or threatens sudden and severe economic decline. 
The dreaded fiscal cliff.  It's like that nightmare ride at the amusement park that every kid wants to get on, and every parent dreads.  You know it's going to spin, turn you upside down, and in the end, you just intuitively know it's not going to turn out good.  At least not good for someone.   The dreaded fiscal cliff - can we just throw that statement over the cliff and never use it again?   Can we kick it to the curb?  Well actually, you can sort of kick it to the curb.  How?  Do it through your votes.  Vote for legislators that support the needs of your family.  Vote for legislators that protect services for our most vulnerable citizens.  Vote for legislators that truly care about our community and ALL of the residents. 

Currently, we are being told we have a one BILLION dollar deficit we are facing.  One BILLION dollars - let that sink in for a while.  So as we continuously complain about our poor education system and poor health care systems -  let's take that BILLION dollars from education and healthcare.  Has anyone other than me ever thought just maybe, there is a reason we continue to be number 49 (thanks, Mississippi) in most categories that rank education and healthcare?  How can we say we value education or healthcare when we continue to strip the systems that will educate our children and provide healthcare to our families?   At the end of the day, how can we repeatedly say these things are important when we see where the cuts are proposed?  The cuts speak volumes for what we really do prioritize as citizens of Louisiana.  Just in case you forgot already - ONE BILLION DOLLARS.  That's the deficit we are facing, and some legislators even predict it could increase to $4 billion.  

Last year one of the smallest citizens of Louisiana asked the question, "Why does my mama have to come here every year and fight for me?"   I'm not sure this question was ever answered - or at least not answered with a satisfactory response.  Parents of children with disabilities have a full-time job just taking care of their children.  Additionally, many of these parents also need to work outside the home to provide a roof over their families head.   So, while these weary parents are already exhausted, let's add one more thing to their "to do" list.  Every. Single. Year.  Let's go battle with the legislators to make sure children with disabilities, and special health care needs are on someone's priority list.  Yep.  Every. Single. Year.   When can we expect this insanity to stop?  

The LA Department of Health has been directed to prepare for over a half billion dollars in cuts.  These are some of their recommendations:
  • Elimination of Children's Choice and Supports Waivers
  • Elimination of Long Term Personal Care Services
  • Elimination of Pedatric Day Health Care Centers
  • Considerably stricter FINANCIAL ELIGIBILITY for NOW Waivers and ICFs/DD facilities. 
  • Near Elimination of behavior health and addictive disorder services. 
Yep, here we go again,  Second verse, same as first.  ONE BILLION DOLLAR deficit.  Every. Single. Year.  Will this insanity EVER stop?
We Want To Make You 
a Star!

We need you!  We will be redoing a lot of our products and want to feature our families.  Do you have some great high resolution pictures of your child, siblings, family?  Send us your best pictures and let us decide if we can use them.  All pictures need to be emailed in an attached file to Bebe at  bbode@fhfjefferson.org.  Please only send jpeg and png formats.  Professional and iphone pictures are good, as long as they are high quality photo's.  


Check out these other great articles we've provided for you this month: 

Upcoming Trainings 

Facebook Live Mini-Trainings for February

FHF Facebook Live Mini Trainings are short interactive trainings to give you the information you need to know now. Topics will be on hot subjects at the moment, interactive, and maybe even with a little added fun thrown in there occasionally. No registration is required.  You just need to sign onto Facebook and go to our Facebook Page .  So like us on Facebook and we'll share our LIVE sessions with you!

 In-Person Trainings in February by FHF 

FHF offers monthly in-person trainings on hot topics that can be best addressed in person.  These are topics that require more time and allows for more participant interactions.  Let us know if there is an in-person training you'd like to have us do.

Special Needs Trust, ABLE Act, Legal Status - Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm, Families Helping Families of GNO, 700 Hickory Avenue, Harahan, LA  70123: Children or adults with disabilities often receive public health benefits, like Medicaid, SSI, and Waiver services due to their disability. Special needs trusts can be prepared to protect these benefits when assets are inherited from family members. You will learn about the importance of special needs trusts, ABLE Accounts, and legal options concerning the age of majority, turning 18 years old, in Louisiana.  A lite dinner will be served.  
To register, please call 504-888-9111 or 1-800-766-7736 - Limited Space - Must RSVP

 Webinars in February by FHF 

FHF and LaPTIC webinars are designed for busy people that doesn't have the time to attend an in-person training.  Webinars are just 60 minutes long and offers time for questions and answers.  In additional to our staff, webinars frequently have knowledgable professionals presenting on topics they are considered specialist in.  Don't  see what you need?  Let us know and we'll do our best to bring you what you need. 

Section 504, Title 11 and Students with Disabilities - Friday, February 2, 2018, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.  Learn more about this civil rights law.
Audience:  Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Accommodations vs Modifications - Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Meeting after meeting, parents and teachers use the words "accommodation" and "modification" almost interchangeably when discussing IEPs and student needs. If understood and used correctly, these words can greatly impact the success of a child's educational program. Get answers to these questions and more:
  • How can accommodations and modifications help my child in the general education classroom? 
  • How is it included in IEP and which accommodations are provided for state testing?
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Section 504 and Transition: The Bridge from High School to Postsecondary Services - Thursday, February 15, 2018, 10:30 am - 11:30 pm:  In this webinar, we will assist you to understand the ITP process as it pertains to postsecondary education and other related services. We will also provide an overview of programs and resources available to your child entering postsecondary education or employment.
Audience: Youth, Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Addressing Challenging Behavior - Friday, February 16, 2018, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm: There is often a cycle of failure for students with behavioral challenges. This workshop will focus on interventions for students who exhibit challenging behaviors (e.g. aggression, self-injury, tantrums). Identifying the function of behavior will be discussed with an emphasis on educational strategies that help students learn alternate behaviors that can lead to long-term change.
Audience:  Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Related Services - Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Children with disabilities are entitled to special education and related services. The IEP must contain a statement of the special education, related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child. Participants will learn several critical elements used to determine what related services a student needs.
Audience:  Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
IDEA Behavioral Support and Discipline: OSER's Dear Colleague Letter - Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm: This webinar will cover OSEP's 16-page Dear Colleague Letter on Supporting Behavior of Students with Disabilities, released on August 1, 2016. You will be provided with a handout that features terms and topics mentioned by OSEP in its Dear Colleague letter, as well as terms and topics generally associated with behavior or school discipline issues.
Audience:  Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Understanding the Importance of Inclusion - Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Why is inclusion of children with disabilities in schools, classrooms, and communities important?  This webinar answer that question.  It explores what inclusion is and is not, whose involved in making meaningful inclusion successful, and its underpinnings in federal law.
Audience:  Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Procedural Safeguards - Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Since the first federal law dealing with the education of students with disabilities in public schools was passed, legal rights for parents has been an important part of the law. These legal rights for parents are generally referred to as "procedural safeguards". The purpose of this webinar is to let parents know that they have legal rights and to help them understand what these rights are.
Audience:  Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Basic Rights in Special Education - Thursday, February 22, 2018, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Whether you're new to special education or have been involved for a while, this workshop is for you. This presentation provides families with an introduction to their rights and responsibilities as parents of children with special needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Parents begin to identify dreams and goals for their children, understand laws and learn advocacy strategies that will help them help their children reach those goals.
Audience:  Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Anatomy of an IEP - Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Like a biology student, this presentation will dissect the parts of the IEP document and examine their functions individually, learning their meanings and application. It will provide constructive and practical tips to help create an IEP that supports all of the student's needs. We will explore the parent's role in the IEP process and learn the basics of their child's right to special education services, the process of developing special education plans, and the parent's role.
Audience:  Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.

View our full calendar of events  here. 

 E-Learning Mini Modules by FHF 

e-Learning Mini Modules are formatted for all devices so even if you are at a ball game, dance practice or waiting for your dinner to arrive in a restaurant, you can log onto our website and watch one of our e-Learning Mini Modules in approximately 10 minutes. That's right - you only need about 10 minutes!  The following e-Learning Mini Modules are currently available:

  • What do you do when the school calls to pick up your child?  
  • What transportation services are available to my child with a disability?
  • How can I prepare for my child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting?
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Basics
  • What is Least Restricted Environment (LRE)?
We hope these are useful to you and happy to be able to add additional ways for families to learn relevant information they need in to get their child the most appropriate education they deserve.     Click here  to go to our website and learn more about the e-Learning  Modules!

Trainings & Webinars by Others

Let's keep Talking!  Increasing Communication for Emerging Speakers - Thursday, February 1, 2018, 2:30 pm:  Many individuals with ASD with some verbal language, but those skills need to be continuously prompted and the number of opportunities they have to practice their skills may be less than those of their peers.  In this webinar, strategies will be shared to promote verbal communication at school and home, including environmental arrangement and reinforcement. Join LSU-HDC LaSARD project in this great training by registering now.  If you have any questions, email Julie at LaSard@lsuhsc.edu.   Click here to register.

Do you have an idea for a training?  Is there something you need that isn't being offered?  Share your suggestions and ideas for training topics with us.  

Teens & Young Adults  with Disabilities:
This section will feature our trainings and resources specific to individuals between the ages of 16 - 26 years old.  Of course, others are welcome to check them out too!

 FHF February Facebook Live for Teens & Young Adults 

FHF Facebook Live Mini Trainings are short interactive trainings to give you the information you need to know now. Topics will be on hot subjects at the moment, interactive, and maybe even with a little added fun thrown in there occasionally. No registration is required.  You just need to sign onto Facebook and go to our Facebook Page.  So like us on Facebook and we'll share our LIVE sessions with you!

-  Resources for Teens & Young Adults -

Legal Status in Louisiana -  A guide to full interdiction, limited interdiction, continuing tutorship, representation and mandate and representative payment.

Attorney List  -  A list of attorneys that do special needs trusts, interdiction, continued tutorship, guardianship, and less restricted alternatives.

 Hot  off the Press
Our extensions have changed.  Effectively immediately our website and email extensions  have been changed to .fhfofgno.org   Please change your records to reflect these changes.  You can now access our website at www.fhfofgno.org and our email by using.fhfofgno.org at the end.  

New English Language Learner Data Story:  The U.S. Department of Education launched a new interactive web page dedicated to data on English Learner students.  The site uses colorful maps, bar graphs, and charts to provide a clearer understanding of America's diverse English Learners population in a data story format from the Common Core of Data.  The data story shows every state has at least one school district where the EL population has increased by more than 50% since the 2010 school year and answers three main questions - Who are English Learners?  Where are English Learners? And what languages do English Learners speak? 

OSERS names new Assistant Secretary.  The U.S. Department of Education has announced Johnny Collett will lead the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in its mission to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and to raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. 

IDEA Section 618 Data Files, Notes, and Static Tables now available.  Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has recently released new data files from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.  

The Center on Technology and Disability (CTD) has released several new resources on assistive technology.  The Center on Technology and Disability is an OSEP funded center.  Check out their newly released resources:
Links You Want To Check Out

If you've ever done an internet search on a topic, you know first-hand how difficult it is to sort through the thousands of links that come up with the search. Below is a list of some of our favorite links for the month that others have shared with us. We hope you find them as informative as we did.

Placement, Short and Sweet: Once the IEP team has decided 
what services a child needs, a decision must be made about where services will be provided. Where the child's IEP is carried out is called placement. Parents have the right to be part of the group that decides the child's placement.

Misuse of Benefits by a Representative Payee: This link leads to a page within the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, in which they cover misuse of benefits by a representative payee. It goes over the responsibilities of a representative payee, essential needs, what a payee shouldn't do, and how to report fraud or abuse. 

Nonprofit Wants to Create 130K Jobs for People with Disabilies:  A new effort with the backing of some major names in the advertising industry is launching with an ambitious goal: create 130,000 jobs for people with developmental disabilities by 2020.

10 Fun and Useful Diabetes Printables: Make your life easier - and your child's day brighter - with these handy projects. 
Success Story of the Month

Every day we hear wonderful things about the work we do for individuals in the community. One of the things that keep us going daily are the success stories we hear.

"I am so thankful that I went to Families Helping
Families and that they are here to help our
When my husband passed away, I was unsure of what supports and services were available for our son with Down syndrome.


This section will give you information on events FHF of GNO will be attending, waiver waiting list info, other community events you might be interested in attending and anything else that doesn't fit in one of the above sections.

The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities provides supports and services through a variety of locations throughout the state to support the dignity, quality of life and security in the everyday lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families, acting as the Single Point of Entry.

Waiver Registry Dates - As of January 31, 2018, the following dates have been reached on the waiver registry, a.k.a. The waiting list. 
New Opportunities Waiver (NOW) - 8/18/2004
Children's Choice Waiver - 12/31/2006
Supports Waiver - 03/31/2015
Not sure where you are on the registry? Call 1.800.364.7828

LaCAN (Louisiana Council's Advocacy Network) -  LaCAN advocates for service systems that support children and adults with disabilities to live in their own homes and be fully-included and participating members of their local schools and communities.
Click here to join!  

LaCAN Legislative Round Table Events for 2018 are planned.  Below is the list of all events.  Please save the date to attend the one in your area.  

Central Louisiana LaCAN Legislative Roundtable:  Monday, February 12, 2018, 9 am - 11 am.    Main Street Community Center, 910 Main Street, Pineville, LA  71360.   For information about the event and to RSVP, please contact the LaCAN Leaders in this region, Kristen Reed, 318.641.7373, 800.259.7200, or kreed@lacanadvocates.org or Melissa Brossette, 318.641.7373, 800.259.7200, or mbrossette@lacanadvocates.org.

Northeast Louisiana LaCAN Legislative Roundtable:  Thursday, February 8, 2018, 9:30 am - 12:00 pm.   Delta Community College, 7500 Millhaven Road, Monroe, LA  71203.   For information about the event and to RSVP, please contact the LaCAN Leader in this region, Konstance Causey, 318.547.9379, 888.300.1320, or kcausey@lacanadvocates.org.

Southeast Louisiana LaCAN Legislative Roundtable:  Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 10 am - 12 pm.  The Gathering Place Community Center, 7265 St. Claude Ave., Arabi, LA  70032.  For information about the event and to RSVP, pleae contact the LaCAN Leader in this region, Stephanie Bartet, 504.301.6765, 504.943.0343, or email abartet@lacanadvocates.org. 

EnrollNOLA is wrapping up their registration process for students wishing to attend school in Orleans Parish.   To apply, families can go to  www.EnrollNOLA.org  or visit any of three Family Resource Centers that are open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

School Finder Website - Louisiana's Department of Education has launched a brand new website - School Finder.  School Finder is an interactive online tool designed to help families more easily locate and evaluate schools and child care centers across the state.  The tool, which hosts detailed information about each site's offerings and academic performance, was unveiled in November with the release of the annual school performance scores and the first-ever early childhood performance profiles.

Call immediately if you haven't reserved your table yet. 
Be on the look out for our new magazine design newsletter starting in March 2018!  Want your family featured as the Cover Family?  Send us your best high quality photo.  We are not looking for professional photographs.  We want great action photos of your family or children.  You can send these to bbode@fhfofgno.org.  Put in the subject line:  Make My Family Your Cover Family.  

For a sneak peek preview - click here!
FHF Team

Click here for a list of  Staff  or  Board Members

Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans is your one stop shop for disability information. We are the only family resource center for individuals with all disabilities, all ages and their families in Jefferson Parish. We offer services across the lifespan.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Families Helping Families of GNO will be closed on the following days:

February 12 - 13, 2018

 Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center (LaPTIC) is a program  of Families Helping Families of GNO and a grant from the US Department of Education; Office of Special Education (OSEP) as Louisiana's official and only statewide federally funded Parent Training   and Information Center. 
The Mission of Families Helping Families is to educate and 
connect children and adults with disabilities and their families to resources, services & supports to attend school, work and thrive 
in their communities

Families Helping Families of GNO
700 Hickory Avenue
Harahan, LA  70123
504.888.9111 (local)
800.766.7736 (toll free)
504.353.2350 (fax)