Parent/Professional Advocacy League
The Massachusetts Family Voice for Children's Mental Health               
   March 2017
Welcome Spring with PPAL
In this issue:
  1. Join PPAL for Our 7th Annual Conference & Celebration!
  2. My Adoption, My Mental Health and My Community Support Network
  3. A Letter to Other Young Mothers with Mental Health Concerns
  4. Department of Education Seeks Comments on New IDEA Website
  5. Grandparents Raising Youth
  6. Celebrate Children's Mental Health Week!
  7. Youth MOVE MA Is Having An Amazing March!
  8. Juvenile Justice: Family Voice Matters

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Contact Us
Parent/ Professional
Advocacy League
Statewide Office-Boston
15 Court Square
Suite 660
Boston, MA 02108
Toll Free: (866) 815-8122
Fax: (617) 542-7832
Central Ma Office
40 Southbridge Street
Suite 310
Worcester, MA 01608
Tel: (508) 767-9725
Fax: (508) 767-9727

April Statewide Meeting

Please join us in welcoming Caitlin Thomas, Social Security Disability Representative.  Caitlin will give us the 411 on SSI and SSDI benefits at this presentation, which will take place on April 11, 2017. 

Register by April 6 via email.

Monday,  April 10
10:00 am - 2:00 pm 
Plymouth Church Conference Room
Framingham, MA

Poll Results

What is your biggest concern as it relates to juvenile justice?
Racial disparities  25% 
Transition services  25% 
School to prison pipeline  0% 

All of the above  50% 

 JoinJoin PPAL for Our 7th Annual Conference & Celebration!
PPAL is excited to announce that our 7th Annual Conference and Celebration will take place on May 19, 2017, from 8:30 to 3:00.  Our keynote speakers for this great event will be Linea and CInda Johnson, authors of Perfect Chaos.  The conference will feature 11 workshops, including a youth track, along with a number of exciting exhibits and more.  Registration will open next week - watch your email and our website for additional information!


Adoption can impact a child and his family in many ways, a subject explored in this month's blog by Family Support Specialist Josh Schram.  You can learn more about how a strong community support network helped Josh and his mother as they dealt with mental health and education challenges on our blog.


This month, we are highlighting a letter from one of our youth mothers who became a mom at the age of 15.  She wants other young mothers to know that despite the stigma associate with being a teen mom and having mental health issues, that you can succeed and that having community support is incredibly important. Check our her letter on this month's What Youth Are Saying.

IDEADepartment of Education Seeks Comments on New IDEA Website

From the Children's Mental Health Network : The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has recently launched a new website to provide resources to support the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). OSERS is seeking input from users of the website as part of its effort to provide updated, easy-to-navigate IDEA resources to children with disabilities and their families, teachers, administrators, advocates, and other stakeholders.  Visit the website and share your thoughts about what information should be included!

  GrandparentsGrandparents Raising Youth

There is a growing trend in this country of grandparents raising youth.  This happens for many reasons, from giving support to struggling parents, to raise children whose parents are imprisoned, to offer assistance during a divorce, or to provide support to children whose parents suffer from addiction issues. Grandparents often face different challenges in raising their grandchildren, such as possible physical limitations and difficulties handling mental or behavioral health issues.  If the parents are still in the picture, the grandparents have difficulty in managing their unannounced visits and unrealistic promises.  They have to balance protecting their grandchildren while permitting them to see their parents, all while dealing with their own feelings of seeing their children struggle as parents.  There are often other challenges as well, such as generational differences in how children should be disciplined and educated and how emotional needs should be met.  Grandparents may be on a fixed income, and may have difficulties providing for their grandchildren.  As a practical matter, it may be difficult for grandparents to navigate the complex mental health care system. They may also find it challenging to obtain legal guardianship or custody in order to enroll their grandchildren in school or obtain medical care.  Grandparents may also experience a sense of anger, grief and loss as they handle these issues during a time when they should have been done raising children.

Obtaining support during this time is critical.  There are many resources available to help grandparents raising children, such as support groups and classes specifically geared towards grandparents raising children.  These groups and classes can be invaluable in providing emotional support, advice in navigating the mental health care system and the educational systems.  If your family needs support, contact PPAL for more information on resources and services for grandparents raising youth in Massachusetts.

  CelebrateCelebrate Children's Mental Health Week!

This year, Children's Mental Health Wee k will be celebrated during the first full week of May 7 - 13, 2017.  The theme for this year is Putting Together Our Hopes and Dreams.  In April, PPAL will send out toolkits for Children's Mental Health Week, which will include a poster, calendar of events, calendar of facts and green ribbons.  

Governor Baker will be issuing a proclamation for Children's Mental Health Week.  Have you asked your mayor or town council to issue a proclamation? For more information or to request a sample proclamation, email Erin at

  AmazingYouth MOVE MA Is Having an Amazing March!
At the beginning of the Month, Youth MOVE MA traveled to Boston to present on a panel at the Federation for Children with Special Needs Conference 2017.  Three of our awesome young adults did a fantastic job on the panel, and at a table to educate others about who we are and what we offer. We also helped to plan and support this year's Success-Fest in Worcester, and had a great showing of youth and young adults along with their adult supporters!

After two months of hard work, (and a lot of fun, too!) members of Youth MOVE Massachusetts completed their first Photo Voice workshop with David Sebastien, in collaboration with the Department of Mental Health and Wayside Youth and Family Support Network. We had our reception at the Worcester Art Museum, and had a great showing of parents, young adults, and providers! Everyone also enjoyed free admission to the art museum afterwards, and all went well.

We also offered a Strategic Sharing training in the middle of the month, and had 10 attendees for the day, which included how to share your story safely and how to support yourself and your peers effectively.

Our youth groups have been going well, too, including a rocking' St. Patrick's Day celebration with milkshakes and a hunt for chocolate gold coins! Next month, we are looking forward to the warm weather, which will include more groups outside, as well as our upcoming trip to the Statehouse, which we will have more information about soon!

  FamilyVoiceJuvenile Justice: Family Voice Matters

This month, PPAL attended a statewide quarterly meeting with police, probation, schools, judges, and providers. We also attended a merging family voice meeting, with 5 parents attending to speak and discuss family experiences in all. Meri Viano, Director of Community Outreach and PPAL's leader in Juvenile Justice changes spoke about top 10 things for law enforcement and others to remember when working with families.

Meri discussed having empathy, asking parents their thoughts, understanding the journey of raising a child, and connecting parents to their parents.  PPAL expressed both what worked well and what needed to change.  Do you have an experiece we should know about for future meetings? If so, let us know by emailing us at