It's Who We Are...It's What We Do!!
We are a family directed resource center for all individuals with disabilities and their families.
Providing information, referral, and support through a network of services and assistance throughout Region 7.
Serving: Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Grant, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, Webster, and Winn Parishes
To Any Special Needs Parent Who’s Having One of Those Days
Dear Special Needs Parent,
I know some days are tough. You are beaten down. Your child is having a meltdown. Your teenager is having challenges at school and your young adult is desperately trying to be placed in a job or find somewhere to live.
No matter what the obstacle is, we’ve all been there, special need parent or not. We want to run away at times because we wonder to ourselves, “Will it get better? CAN it get better?" Your son can’t be bathed because of the texture of the water. Your daughter hasn’t said her first word and she’s just turning four years old.
The spectrum of disability is so wide and with each individual diagnosed comes some struggle for that individual's parents.
It’s a struggle that I’ve never had to deal with from the parent side of the spectrum, but as someone who helps talk parents through these challenging times, I often tell them about my own personal journey...
My journey began 23 years ago when I was diagnosed with autism. For me, between sensory issues, emotional challenges, motor delays, cognitive issues, not speaking for the first three years of my life, being scared to show affection to my loved ones with the fear of going into overload, my parents definitely had THOSE days while trying to help me succeed.
It can be really easy to tell yourself it’s something that YOU did. To say that YOU are not doing everything you can to help your child. When that time comes though I want you to take a second…and pause.
You see everything in life is not always black and white. Not all of us are going to be math geniuses (i.e. Rain Man) and some will need more help than others along the way. My own personal journey has taken me from one side of the spectrum, where nothing seemed possible for my future, to a point where I could graduate from college, get a full time job and now speak professionally about growing up with autism.
My personal advice is to take those little successes as they come and cherish each and every day you are blessed enough to have with your loved ones. If you need to scream every once in a while, do it...Cry along the way too. Sometimes, more than anything, we need to remember we’re human…
And that’s okay…
Regardless of where the road takes you, travel it by knowing that we’ve all been through our own challenges in life. Hope is coming. It may not be today or tomorrow, but as long as we have “community,” we will never be alone. Learn to embrace the stories of those around you and live a life where we can pick each other up in our times of need.
After you’re done reading this and the next time one of THOSE days hits you right in your face, I hope that you remember one thing. Whether your child is able to tell you or not…
You’re making a difference…
Why You Want To Attend a Families Helping Families Workshop
1. A chance to bond with parents or individuals with disabilities in similar situations.
2. Visit a nice, relaxing, and positive place.
3. Attending might let you find a parent who can go to meetings with you and you can do the same for them.
4. Collaborate with parents and professionals around disability issues.
5. Explore our issues and other parent’s issues around disabilities.
6. Free food – sometimes snacks, sometimes a light meal.
7. Have a good time.
8. Have something to talk to your spouse and family about.
9. Learn about the laws around special education/disability.
10. Learn about the researched based theories around special education/disability.
11. Learn how to make your life and the lives of your children/ourselves work better.
12. Letting your child know you value them enough to go learn what you need to know to help them.
13. Learn strategies to deal with issues.
14. Meet the Families Helping Families staff.
15. Meeting local, regionally, and state speakers – did I mention for free?
16. Motivating and re-energizing break for you.
17. Practice skills needed when working with professionals concerning our needs.
18. Teachers and Professionals will appreciate you took the time to learn how all this works.
19. The workshops are free. Other people are paying to get this type and quality of training.
20. Visit a place that can be a resource for ideas, suggestions, and solutions.
For more information about Families Helping Families Region 7 workshops please visit our website at
or call us at (318)226-4541/877-226-4541.
Seven Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy Over Summer
By Allie Gray
1. Outdoor activities are an obvious choice. During most of the summer, children can spend many hours outdoors. When children are outside, whether actively playing or not, the benefits are immeasurable. Outdoor playing allows for the following things:
• Large motor, active play offers children developmental benefits
• Fresh air and vitamin D intake
• Development of social skills Outdoor activities should be structured and planned as well as spontaneous and free. Just because children participate in outdoor group sports, it does not mean that they no longer need outdoor play.
2. Use nature to spark healthy living. Take time this summer to cultivate a garden either in your backyard or containers on your patio. Children can be uniquely patient when it comes to planting vegetables. Watching plants grow and watering and feeding plants gives a children a sense of purpose and something to look forward to every day.
3. Visit museums and historical places. Many of these wonders exist are never seen by children. Take time to visit town history museums from large to small. Children find learning about their community to be tangible and more intriguing than somewhere far away or in a book.
4. View art galleries. Art galleries and children do not seem to connect very easily. However, children are inherently creative and enjoy learning how others create art. It is also interesting to see what they see in piece of modern art or how they feel about an impressionist painting. By exposing children to these wonders, they can learn about their local culture and how to express themselves visually.
5. Offer open-ended art activities every day. Offering open-ended art activities for children is a simple way to give your child the freedom of creative expression. Encourage the use of crayons, markers, pencils, chalk, watercolor paints, play dough, clay, tissue paper, and more. Open-ended art activities are just that activities with no specific desired outcome. Craft activities are those with specific materials designed to create something specific. When children use open-ended art materials, they are able to express themselves and their ideas. Often children will spend a longer period of time working with open-ended materials than with craft supplies. After all there is no end predicted for the activity. Parents can also add materials that are considered “useable junk,” such as, paper towel tubes, plastic containers and boxes. With a little bit of tape and glue, children can create amazing sculptures and add to their dramatic play.
6. Find a cause worth fighting for and support it. Children can be just as passionate about important causes than an adult. Their motives are pure; to help others. It is also important for parents to start demonstrating for their children at a young age, the importance of giving to others. As a family, talk with your child about what is important to your community and to your children. Decide on a cause that is worth fighting for and figure out how your family can do just that.
7. Incorporate learning opportunities into everyday activities. The most important thing you can do to keep your child busy this summer is to weave learning into every aspect of their day (without your child knowing they are learning). When parents take time out of what their child perceives as “their summer” to continue learning tasks, such as writing practice, reading and math, then children often rebel.
What is the Northwest Louisiana Human Services District
Developmental Disabilities Division?
The Northwest Louisiana Human Services District
provides Mental Health, Addictive Disorder and Developmental Disability Services to the residents of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine and Webster Parishes.
For Developmental Disability Services the disability must:
- Be present before the age of 22
- Likely continue indefinitely
- Cause substantial limitations in three or more of the following seven areas:
* Learning * Capacity for Independent Living
* Economic Self Sufficiency (for persons 18 and older)
Some of the conditions that may result in a developmental disability are:
* Spina Bifida
* Cerebral Palsy
*Traumatic Brain Injury
Flexible Family Fund
Individual and Family Support
Supports Waiver (SW)
New Opportunities Waiver (NOW)
Residential Options Waiver (ROW)
Children’s Choice Waiver (CC)
Referral and Intake
Anyone in the community can make a referral to the regional Human Services District office. For example, a parent, teacher, doctor or other professionals can call the local office at 318-741-7455, or stop by in person to
3018 Old Minden Rd., Ste. 1211, Bossier City, LA 71111.
For more information about NWLAHSD call Comeaka King at Families Helping Families Region 7 at (318)226-4541/877-226-4541 or email her at
Back-to-School Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs
A new school year means a new grade, new teachers, new goals, and maybe even a new school! In order to help you and your child with special needs be as successful as you can be, we've put together a list of eight helpful back-to-school tips that we hope will make the transition into a new school year a little easier for you and your child.
Organize all that paperwork
In the world of special education, there are lots of meetings, paperwork, and documentation to keep track of. Try to keep a family calendar of school events, special education meetings, conferences, etc. Setting up a binder or folder to keep your child's special education documentation, meeting notices and IEPs in sequential order can also help you stay organized.
Start a communication log
of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings, and conferences is important. Create a "communication log" for yourself in a notebook that is easily accessible. Be sure to note the dates, times, and nature of the communications you have.
Review your child's current IEP
is the cornerstone of your child's educational program, so it's important that you have a clear understanding of it. Note when the IEP expires and if your child is up for reevaluation this year. Most importantly, be sure that this IEP still "fits" your child's needs! If you're unsure, contact the school about holding an IEP review meeting.
Relieve back-to-school jitters
Just talking about the upcoming year and changes can help reduce some of that back-to-school anxiety! Talk to your child about exciting new classes, activities, and events that they can participate in during the new school year. If attending a new school, try to schedule a visit before the first day. With older students, it is sometimes helpful to explain the services and accommodations in their IEP so that they know what to expect when school begins.
Keep everyone informed
It's important that
that will happen once school starts. You can even begin practicing your new schedule, focusing on morning and evening routines, and begin implementing them well in advance of the first day of school.
Stay up-to-date on special education news
Being knowledgeable about your child's IEP and their disability can help you become a better
for your child. Try to keep up-to-date on new special education legislation, news, and events. The more you know, the more prepared you will be to navigate the world of special education and successfully advocate for your child!
Attend school events
Take advantage of
to help you and your child get a feel for the school and meet the teachers, other staff, students, and families. Share the positives about working with your child, and let the teacher know about changes, events, or IEP concerns that should be considered for children in special education.
**For more information about starting the year off right, please contact Families Helping Families Region 7 Education Specialist Ester Drakes at (318)226-4541/877-226-4541 or email her at
Tips for Parents to Make the Most Out of Their EarlySteps Experience!
Having an infant or toddler with special needs can be overwhelming and your family’s time in EarlySteps can go by very quickly. Here are a few tips to maximize your time in EarlySteps.
- Participate in the IFSP process—participate with service providers to plan and carry out activities with your child, and share your knowledge and observations with them.
- Inform your support coordinator of issues that may affect your child’s services.
- Schedule your visit during times that are best for your child and family. Be present and actively participate in all visits.
- Be on time for scheduled appointments and notify your service provider as soon as possible if you are unable to keep an appointment. Provide reasonable notice if you need to cancel or reschedule a visit.
- Write down any questions you may have and be prepared to discuss what has happened since your last visit.
- Ask to be shown anything you do not completely understand and practice the strategies together during the visit.
- Review the monthly Family Cost Participation/Explanation of Benefits statement and submit payment if applicable.
- Review and sign each provider contact note for each session. These verify your participation and that the provider conducted the session.
- Use the strategies throughout the day with your child and make notes of what is working and what is not.
- Be open and honest with your service providers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or tell the service provider if something is not going well.
- Participate in EarlySteps activities such as the State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) and/or Regional Interagency Coordinating Council (RICC) or through giving input to your Regional Community Outreach Specialist.
**For more information contact Monica Stampley, EarlySteps Community Outreach Specialist, at (318)226-4541 or (877)226-4541 or email
Families Helping Families Region 7 Parent Support Group
Raising a special needs child can be stressful at times. Having others around to talk to and share your experience with can be a great way to reduce stress. Parents and family members of children with disabilities or special needs are encouraged to come, share, and learn with other parents. Our parent support group meets once a month at different locations around the city.
Please contact Monica Stampley at (318)226-4541/877-226-4541 or email her at
to find out more information about meeting location and time.
Shop at AmazonSmiles and giveback to Families Helping Families Region 7
Support Families Helping Families Region 7 by starting your shopping at
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Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Families Helping Families Region7 whenever you shop on AmazonSmile.
What is Hanging with Friends?
Hanging with Friends aka HWF is Families Helping Families support group for self-advocates over the age of 18. Hanging with Friends was birthed out of the idea that all people should have friends as well as being active and included in their community.
HWF meets monthly to have fun, meet new people, and participant in community activities. Some activities include bowling night, movie night, eating out at local restaurants, community festivals, and holiday celebrations plus much more.
As a group we are serious about self-advocacy issues, but we also want to make you laugh and feel good about life. Join us to celebrate the strengths of self-advocates.
Most of all, let’s work together to help people live the life they want with the support they need.
All HWF activities can be found on our Facebook page or you can contact Comeaka King at 318-226-4541/877-226-4541 for location and time.
Travel Stipends Available for Parents To Attend Behavioral Workshops and Conferences.
How to apply:
Relationships and Intimacy:
Preventing Exploitation Information for Self Advocates, Family Members & Caregivers
July 25, 2019
10:00am - 12:00pm
The Arc of Caddo-Bossier
351 Jordan Street
Shreveport, La 71101
Ten training opportunities are being offered statewide to adult self-advocates and their family members or caregivers to increase understanding of the issues that lead to and ways to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities experience sexual abuse and exploitation at significantly higher rates than in the population at large. Unfortunately, individuals with intellectual and development disabilities are also more vulnerable to repeated abuse and exploitation when incidences go unreported. Many factors contribute to this increased risk including, but not limited to, a lack of understanding of human anatomy, sexual development, and healthy relationships.
Take advantage of this incredible opportunity to receive valuable information to protect yourself or a loved one! Each training session is free to attend, but you must pre-register as seating is limited. These training events are provided through a partnership between the Council and Team Dynamics, LLC.
To register for this workshop please click
Krogers Neighbor to Neighbor Donation Program
Families Helping Families Region 7 is proud to announce their participation in the Kroger Neighbor to Neighbor Donation Program. If you shop at Kroger and use a KrogerPlus Card this is an easy and fast way to donate money to Families Helping Families Region 7 without coming out of your pocket. Kroger will donate money Families Helping Families Region 7 every time you use your card.
You must have a registered KrogerPlus card account to link to FHF Region 7. If you do not have a KrogerPlus Card, cards are available at the customer service desk at any Kroger. If you are a new online customers, you must click on SIGN UP TODAY in the ‘New Customer?’ box.
·You can sign up for a Kroger Community Rewards Account by entering your zip code, clicking on favorite store, enter your email address, create a password, and agree to the terms and conditions.
·You will get a message to check your email inbox and click on the link within the body of the email.
·You will click on My Account and use your email address and password to proceed to the next step.
·You will click on Edit Kroger Community Rewards information and input your Kroger Plus card number.
·You will update or confirm your information.
· You will enter our
NPO number AW522
name Families Helping Families Region 7
, or select
Families Helping Families Region 7
from list and click on confirm.
To verify you are enrolled correctly, you will see Families Helping Families Region 7 name on the right side of your information page.
REMEMBER, purchases will not count for Families Helping Families Region 7 until after member(s) register
LET THE DONATING BEGIN!!
A Message From Your LaCAN Leader Mimi Rankin Webb
First of all, I wish to thank all of you who did the Action Alerts and contacted your Legislators this past session! All of our trips to the Capitol for testimony before the House & Senate Committees and your Advocacy efforts really made a positive impact and difference this session!
Legislators listened to the voices of LaCAN members and responded to your calls, letters and visits during this year's legislative session. Thanks to your persistent advocacy efforts, the legislature passed the State Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 and included:
• Funding for the rate restoration for all HCBS providers to 2008 levels (including EPSDT-PCS and LT-PCS)
• $1 million in additional state funds for Northwest LA Human Services District and $1 million in additional state funds for Florida Parishes Human Services Authority.
• Language directing LDH to begin a program to serve the TEFRA population beginning on or before June 1, 2020, pending CMS approval.
Funding was NOT included for:
• SPAS to serve all individuals on the waiting list
• Insufficient funding for the Human Services Districts/Authorities to meet all the needs in our region
HB199 by Representative Dodie Horton requires LDH, pending CMS approval, to begin a program to provide health care services via the state’s Medicaid program to children in the TEFRA population no later than June 1, 2020.
HB392 included funding to restore rates retroactive to January 1, 2019 for DD waiver providers.
LaCAN also advocated to ensure LDH had the funding necessary to prevent cuts to existing DD service and as a result, there were no cuts to current developmental disability services.
HB283 presented by Representative Mark Wright would have required the use of video cameras in self-contained classrooms when requested by a parent but it failed to pass the legislative process.
LDOE released monitoring reports and corrective action plans prior to the start of legislative session (See
LaDDC News – March 7, 2019
LaCAN Leaders met for debriefing this past June to discuss session outcome and will meet again in August for training & for Session Kickoff in September to discuss the issues that you want the Disabilities Council to address for next session. THIS means, we need to hear from you on the issues!
Make plans NOW for our summer time LaCAN Members meeting August 9, 6pm to talk about our successes last session and to further discuss last session’s outcomes. This means that I need to hear from YOU and get YOUR
input about what issues are currently affecting you & your family and hear what YOU would like to see on the 2020 Legislative LaCAN Agenda
As always, I do need your compelling stories & testimony on these issues so let me know about these so that LaCAN can continue to educate our Legislators for Education and Community & Home Based Services.
I will work towards helping you as a LaCAN Member build relationships with your Legislators so that you can express any concerns you have with them through visits, writing and phone calls.
Anytime you wish to meet and speak with your Legislator about developmental disabilities issues I will be happy to help you set up a visit and provide you with your legislator’s contact information so that you can write and call as well.
2620 Centenary Blvd. Ste. 250 Bldg. 2
Shreveport, La. 71104
Board of Directors:
Aundrea Emerson - Chair/Parent, Kimberly Graham - Secretary, Michael Gould - Treasurer/Parent, and Shawanda Lee - Board Member
Board Meeting are held the last Wednesday of the month from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at our center. Dates are subject to change. Please call our office to confirm meeting dates prior to attending.