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News You Can Use

December - January 2023

Equity & Exercising the Empathy Muscle

Warm-looking Black woman with shoulder-length, straight hair, wearing professional attire

Danielle Hardin

MASFEC Project Manager

Smiling, middle-aged Black woman with braided hair, wearing professional attire

Heidi Harris

Outreach Specialist to the Black Community

Contact MASFEC

[email protected]


MASFEC offers technical assistance to schools and organizations seeking to develop coordinated and equity-driven family engagement programs. This can involve resources, trainings, coaching and consultation.

Two of our experienced facilitators and trainers, Danielle Hardin and Heidi Harris, recently shared their experiences working with school district communities to strengthen relationships with families. This work combines coaching and training with facilitating honest dialogue around the painful subject of educational inequity.

According to Heidi, "our goal is to disrupt the usual pattern of parents in one corner, teachers and administrators in another corner–and really building towards an equitable partnership. It’s also about amplifying the bank of knowledge and voice of parents, and helping district leaders learn how to listen in an authentic way."

"Everyone has a story," says Danielle. "Many educators right now are new and fresh, others are very burned out by the system. There are so many disconnections in the system that have an impact on them. The goal is for educators, administrators and families to be able to really see one another."

This work can only take place in what the two call "brave spaces." According to Heidi, this means "developing a mindset and getting that empathy muscle going. You need to see equity and diversity as an asset–but something that you need to actively work at."

Read more of their insights and advice for creating brave spaces on our website.

And, call or email us if you'd like to work with Danielle, Heidi, and the MASFEC team. We'd love to hear from you!

Navigating School Systems

How can I help my families understand school systems?

Virtual Workshop

Friday, February 3

10-11:30 am

Register Now

New workshop from FCSN & MASFEC!

Helping Families Understand School Systems

Please join us for a new workshop on helping families understand school systems.

This session will provide concrete strategies for removing the obstacles that get in the way of equal access to educational opportunity.

Topics covered by the session will include:

  • Root causes of information gaps 
  • Key points about education that every family needs to know
  • Communication strategies that support understanding 

This session is offered by FCSN and MASFEC's Aceriane Leal and Rosalie Rippey and hosted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Family Engagement Initiative.

School Finder staff members - group of four diverse, smiling and professional women

1 (800) 208-2242

 [email protected]

Ready for Application Season?

Many different kinds of schools accept applications or registrations during the winter months - or even just during January.

Do you or the families you work with know how to access the full range of educational opportunities available in your community? The School Finder Help Line team is here to help!

Contact School Finder for parent workshops and 1:1 phone-based support in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, French, Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese - plus hundreds more languages via phone interpretation.

Learn more at fcsn.org/schoolfinder

School Navigation icon

School Options in Massachusetts

Looking for a quick overview of the many kinds of schools available in Massachusetts? Career & Technical, Charter, Virtual Schools and more are covered in this new blog post from the School Finder Help Line!

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School Climate

Choosing a High School

Our writer-in-residence Mathangi Subramanian, Ed.D. has crafted a new article for our website, offering tips for choosing a high school. Looking beyond test scores, Mathu recommends questions you can ask to gain insight into a school's culture and climate.

Read Mathu's advice on choosing a high school


Valeryia Pedersen

(617) 399-8382 

[email protected]

P2P Website

Support Parents: Find One, Become One!

Family TIES of Massachusetts, one of our sister programs within the Federation, offers a unique volunteer opportunity for families who have learned how to navigate healthcare, human service, and educational systems and want to give back.

The Parent-to-Parent program provides one-on-one matches between families of children with special needs with other families who have similar needs and experiences. The program trains support parents to offer emotional support and information based on shared experiences.

Professional Development

Children's faces labeled cheerful, comfortable, disappointed, disgusted

For Educators & Professionals

Become a Positive Solutions Trainer

Want to help the families you work with build awareness of children's social-emotional needs? Massachusetts Educators and Professionals are invited to join our free Positive Solutions For Families: Train the Trainer.

This training will prepare you to bring the Positive Solutions program back to your community.

  • February 2023 Cohort meets February 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9 from 5-7pm
  • April 2023 Cohort meets April 4, 5, 6, 11, and 13 from 3-5pm
  • May 2023 Cohort meets  1, 2, 3,4, and 5 from 4-6pm (registration link coming soon)

This FREE program is available thanks to support from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and PDP and CEUs are available at no charge. Special dates can be arranged for district teams.

Contact Bridget Koetsch [email protected] more details.

Learn more and register for Positive Solutions here!

Professional Development for Education Professionals

Mental Health and Trauma 3-Part Series

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Family Engagement project hosts networking and professional development opportunities for Family Engagement Specialists, ELPACs, SEPAC leaders, and school administrators throughout the year.

In February and March, a three-part series is being offered on how to support diverse families experiencing mental health concerns, trauma, and racial trauma. Dr. Nicole Christian Brathwaite will share strategies for how to work with families to create safe and supportive spaces at home, in school and in the community.

What Does it Mean to be Trauma Informed and how Becoming Trauma Informed Can Benefit our Students

Tuesday, February 7 - 10-11:30 am 

 Registration Link 

Racism is Trauma: How Racial Trauma Impacts the Developing Brain

Tuesday, February 28 - 10:00am-12:00pm

Registration Link

Tools to Support the Mental Health of Students, Families, and You

Tuesday, March 7 - 10-11:30 am 

Registration Link

Sign up for announcements and view all DESE Family Engagement Professional Development Opportunities Here

Strengthening Partnerships ToT

Our next English-language training of trainers on the Massachusetts statewide framework for family engagement is coming up on February 8-10. Learn how to bring this model back into your school, district, organization or community.

February 8th, 9th, & 10th, 1-4pm – in English

March 15th, 16th, & 17th, 1-4pm – in English

Learn more and register for Strengthening Partnerships here

More Trainings at FCSN.org

The Federation offers hundreds of workshops, parent support meetings, focus groups, and information sessions every year. Some sessions are in languages other than English, many include interpretation, and all offer accessibility options such as captioning or ASL. Topics include special education, health and healthcare access, mental health and trauma, early childhood, family engagement, equity and racial equity, bullying, and more.

View upcoming FCSN trainings and events

Get Involved

Visions of Community virtual conference - March 4

Registration is Open for Visions of Community!

You won't want to miss FCSN's 2023 Visions of Community Conference! This virtual event features keynote addresses that will inspire you to action and countless workshops on disability and family engagement topics. This gathering is guaranteed to educate, empower, and inform.

Register for VOC today

Help Students with Disabilities:

Become a Special Education Surrogate

Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESPs) use their knowledge of the IEP process to support students whose parents are unable to participate on the IEP team. If you want to make a difference in the life of a student in your community, consider becoming an SESP today!

Learn more about SESPs here 

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Massachusetts Statewide Family Engagement Center
529 Main Street, Suite 1M3 | Boston, MA 02129
617.236.7210 | www.masfec.org
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