Navigating Excellence - Parent Center Assistance & Collaboration Team
Region A E-News
Inspirational Quote
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished”
~ Martin Luther King
Message From Diana & Michele
This past month during our NE-PACT Follow-Up Forum, we celebrated some exciting news about new requirements for parent - and parent center - engagement in the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report/State Systemic Improvement Plan. It’s understandable to celebrate when advocacy changes the minds, policies and actions of others. Acknowledging success is what helps us to have the strength to continue to advocate. Progress matters but true advocates know that winning a battle doesn’t win a war. It is a great step that states are required to engage with parents and parent centers in a meaningful way. At NE-PACT we are looking forward to continuing the journey with you in pursuit of meaningful involvement of all families.
RIPIN (Rhode Island Parent Information Network): RIPIN Launches New Summer Camp Scholarship for Children and Youth with Special Needs: The Rhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN) today announced the launch of the RIPIN Summer Camp Scholarship to help children and youth with special needs attend camps and recreational programs this summer for 2021, the first year of the scholarship, RIPIN will award up to $1,000 per family. RIPIN Summer Camp Scholarships can be used for camp tuition, fees, or deposits; to cover the cost of additional accommodations that may be necessary for a child to attend camp; or for other related expenses. Read more here.

DRCVI (Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands): New Report: Shadow Citizens: Confronting Federal Discrimination in the U.S. Virgin Islands: The U.S. Virgin Islands embodies many of our country’s most troubling racial disparities, particularly in healthcare. At the same time, the Territory remains largely invisible in our emerging national conversations surrounding racial justice and democracy. This report details critical areas of federal law and policy that discriminate against the U.S. Virgin Islands and relegate the Territory’s low-income and disabled population to an unconscionable second-class status. Read more here.

Parent Network of WNY: Sue Barlow, and her role in establishing relationships and sharing space with collaborative organizations in Buffalo to the entire community's benefit, is prominently featured in this article in the Buffalo News. It is an excellent example of how Parent Centers are a crucial part of the fabric of supportive services provided to the community. Sue has been working on this project for years (as noted in the article).  It is a huge accomplishment!
Upcoming Events/Dates to Remember
NEPACT Follow Up Forum: The REAL Day will take place on Thursday, April 29 from 1-3 p.m., and it will focus on transition within the context of the new changes in the APR. Register here.
2021 SPAN Parent Advocacy and Leadership Virtual Conference: SPAN will host this virtual conference about meaningful Parent Leadership across education, health, mental health, family support, human services, and child welfare systems. The focus is on leadership skills so it will be relevant to family organizations and leaders across the US. It will take place on Tuesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 13 from 1PM to 4:30PM EST. Register here.
OSEP 2021 Leadership and Project Director Conference: The virtual conference will be held from July 19-22. For updates on registration information for the conference. Learn more.
Other Events:  Don’t forget to check out the CPIR Calendar of Events.
Non-Profit Management Resources
Considerations for Non-Profits in the Post-COVD 19 environment: Only one thing about COVID-19 seems certain: uncertainty. Over the past year, the nonprofit sector has navigated a range of unanticipated changes due to the pandemic, from remote work to the absence of large gatherings, reduced travel, etc. This article discusses some of the challenges facing nonprofits now and in the future.

Guide to hiring and managing remote teams: This guide to hiring and managing remote teams offers tips and insights to lead successful virtual work. Learn how to conduct effective virtual interviews, onboard new hires online, and keep remote teams connected in our latest guide.
Family-Centered Services Resources
Strengthening Families During Times of Crisis: Check out this summary of the 5 protective factors that can help families develop resilience.
Youth-Centered Services Resources
How to Build Confidence When You Know You’re Different: Youth and young adults are often told they need to do things differently because of a learning disability. Mimi Garfield shares how she builds confidence even with her diagnosis of dyslexia and anxiety. Being confident is the first step in knowing who you are as a youth and young adult. Read more.
Staff Development Resources
Training & Capacity Building: A little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to using information to enhance practice. These training and capacity building engagements run the gamut from one-time workshops, to multi-session professional learning communities, to ongoing coaching services for teams.  
The Role of Healthy Schools in Education: The research is clear: healthy students are better learners. They miss fewer days of school, are better able to focus in class and are more ready to learn. Learn more.
To close digital equity gaps, US should endow a private Digital Futures Foundation: As the COVID-19 crisis has made clear, broadband access is no longer a luxury but, like electricity, a fundamental necessity for every person, young or old — for education, remote work, health care, public safety, banking, and virtually every other aspect of life. Yet our digital ecosystem suffers not just from a single divide but also from a triple digital rupture. Read more.
Protecting Students from Cyberbullying in the Virtual Classroom: With remote learning extended through 2021, schools need to be ready to address and prevent cyberbullying in the virtual classroom in order to encourage safe learning environments. With attentive oversight and online safety features, teachers can foster a positive learning environment in the remote classroom.  Read more.
Child Welfare
The Danger of a Misdiagnosis of Child Abuse:  S. Clifford reported about child abuse pediatricians, doctors who are trained to determine whether kids’ injuries are accidental or inflicted. In most cases, these conclusions can’t be made with certainty, but the child welfare system often takes them as fact.  Read more.
Recommendations for Change and for How Parents Can Protect Themselves from a False Accusation, Q&A format, Clifford’s reporting process and what she learned from parents, as well as the role of power dynamics, racism and classism in these situations available here.
Choice/Charter Schools/Voucher Programs
Know Your Rights: Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools 2016: This document is designed to help parents, students, and the charter school community better understand the rights of students with disabilities under Federal disability-related laws. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), which the Office for Civil Rights enforces, prohibits disability-based discrimination. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), administered by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, provides Federal funds to States, and through them, local educational agencies, to assist in providing special education and related services to children with disabilities.

A Parent’s Guide to Virtual Learning: 4 Actions to Improve Your Child’s Experience With Online Learning, NCLD Sept 2020, Find the Factsheet here.
ARP ESSER Funds: The US Department of Education has established interim final requirements for the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (“ARP ESSER”) Fund, under section 2001 of the American Rescue Plan (“ARP”) Act of 2021. These requirements are intended to promote accountability, transparency, and the effective use of funds by:
  • Ensuring that each State educational agency meaningfully engages in stakeholder consultation and takes public input into account in the development of its ARP ESSER plan;
  • ensuring that each local educational agency develops a plan for the use of its ARP ESSER funds and engages in meaningful consultation and seeks public input as it develops the LEA ARP ESSER plan; and
  • clarifying how an LEA must meet the statutory requirement to develop a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services.
Cultural Competence
Supporting Mental Health of Immigrant Communities: For the immigrant community, access to care can be complicated by language, culture, insurance access (resources), and citizenship status. Immigrants are more likely to have experienced trauma or witnessed violence, may lack social supports, which leads to substance abuse or domestic violence, and may live in a state of “hiding.”  Mental Health America provides a PowerPoint that details some of the challenges and some of the solutions to supporting this community.
US ED Office for Civil Rights - Civil Rights Data Collection: OCR recognizes that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected the way many schools provide instruction. To assist local educational agencies (LEA) and schools that have offered virtual instruction for all or part of the school year, OCR has added new instructions and directional indicators to the 2020–21 CRDC LEA- and school-level forms, clarifying how to respond to CRDC items related to virtual, in-person, and hybrid (both virtual and in-person) educational environments. To prepare for the 2020–21 CRDC, LEAs should use the updated 2020–21 CRDC forms that are available on the CRDC website and the CRDC Resource Center website.
Discipline & Positive Behavioral Supports
How Middle School Discipline Pushes Vulnerable Kids into Justice System:  Most children age into the criminal justice system during middle school, and with every state allowing the prosecution of children as young as 12, the impact can be severe for Black, Native or Latino boys.  Learn more.
Dispute Resolution
The Working Together Series includes five interactive self-directed courses. These courses provide families and educators with a number of strategies for working together and through conflict. Anyone supporting children or youth with disabilities may benefit from this series, however, the setting in which collaborative problem solving and conflict resolution takes place within this series is typically the school or IEP meeting. Find CADRE’s English series here and the Spanish series here. 
Dropout Prevention
New Community Research Project, Nobody Asked Me Campaign, Highlights Student’s Voices and Experience to Build a Pathway to Promise: The Nobody Asked Me Campaign is a community research project that seeks to highlight and empower students, families, and community members and their experiences living within Baltimore City, Maryland. The project centers community voices to strengthen Baltimore City Public Schools in hopes of ensuring students will receive a “thorough and efficient” education, and that they will be in safe, healthy, and healing environments where they can learn and develop the skills to thrive in Baltimore.
Early Childhood/Early Intervention
Determining A Child's Eligibility for Early Intervention Services Remotely: Included here are guidance, considerations, and resources for state staff and local practitioners who are determining Part C eligibility remotely. 

Transition from EI to Preschool for Families of a Child Who Is Deaf-Blind: For families with a child who is deaf-blind, making the transition from early intervention services (birth - 36 months) to preschool can be stressful and intimidating! Check out NCDB’s latest key topic for families: “Preparing for Transition to Preschool.” Learn what changes are involved and how families can make the transition as smooth as possible.
Education Reform/ESSA
Beyond Random Acts of Family, School, Community Engagement as An Integral Part of Education Reform, 2010: Family, school, and community engagement in education should be an essential strategy in building a pathway to college and career readiness in today’s competitive global society. Research repeatedly correlates family engagement with student achievement, yet this strategy is rarely activated as an integral part of school reform efforts. 
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972: A comprehensive review by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will be conducted as part of implementing President Biden's March 8 Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity. OCR outlined plans to solicit the public's input on the regulations, ultimately leading to possible revisions through a notice of proposed rulemaking. Find the Executive Order here. Find the Letter to Students, Educators, and other Stakeholders here.
Foster Care
Reunification: Bringing Your Child Home from Foster Care: Fact Sheet for Families, 2016
Foster care is not forever. Children and youth can and do return home to their families. In fact, this is the most common outcome. This factsheet for families provides a general overview of the reunification process, including what parents can expect while their children are in foster care, what they can do to help their children return home, and what to expect after children return home. Resources available to help families during and after reunification also are included.
Partnering With Relatives to Promote Reunification: Child Welfare Information Gateway, January 2020.  Find the Fact Sheet here.
New Report offers Guidance for Pediatricians on How to Prevent Abuse of Children with Disabilities: Children with disabilities are at least three times more likely to experience abuse and neglect compared to their peers, and a new American Academy of Pediatrics report underscores the role of pediatricians in preventing maltreatment and offers guidance on how they can support families. Read more here.
USDA Issues Pandemic Flexibilities for Schools and Day Care Facilities through June 2022 to Support Safe Reopening and Healthy, Nutritious Meals: Nutrition standards return with options and resources to support safety and social distancing. Read more.
State of Homelessness:  COVID-19 is creating a health and economic crisis in America and throughout the world.  It is too soon to determine its ultimate impacts.  The Alliance published an updated version of the state of homelessness.  Click here to read more.
Stimulus Funds Alone Won’t Help Underserved Students. States Must Make Sure They Reach Students Who Are Homeless, Living With Disabilities & English Learners: Read more.

Education Department Announces State Allocations of $800 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness: Read more. 
IDEA/Special Education
Determining Special Education Eligibility of English Language Learners: REL Northeast & Islands Practitioners Brief, Feb 2021. Describes how four districts are using key practices to meet the needs of their English learners. Find the Brief here.
Immigrant Issues
Presence of Immigrant Students Boosts Test Scores for All: U.S.-born students with high exposure to immigrants in their schools scored better on math and reading tests than similar students with low exposure to immigrants, a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds. What’s more, economically disadvantaged and black students received the greatest boost from studying alongside immigrant peers, enjoying a bump in performance twice as large as other native-born students. Read more.
5 Steps to Help Students With Special Needs Make a Smooth Transition to In-Person Learning: With the end of the pandemic in sight and some communities already reopening, it is time to understand what it will take for special education teachers to transition back to in-person learning. Read more.
Juvenile Delinquency/Juvenile Justice
Arrested Learning: Check out this short youtube video about youth experiences of police and security at school.  
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum Signs Anti-LGBTQ House Bill 1503 Into Law:  Today, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed House Bill 1503 into law — legislation that allows student groups at colleges, universities, and high schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students.  Many public colleges and universities have long had “all-comers” policies that require student organizations receiving financial and other support from the institution not to discriminate against students based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. These policies allow all members of the student body to participate in student organizations and prevent such organizations from discriminating against students with state funding. Read more here.
Mental Health
The Pandemic Will Affect Students’ Mental Health for Years to Come. How Schools Can Help: As COVID-19 vaccines roll out and more schools inch toward fully reopening for in-person instruction, educators and policymakers are rightly focused on getting students caught up academically. Read more.
Military Families & Youth
Military death by suicide up 25% in 2020:  The number of deaths by suicide among military service members increased alarmingly in the fourth quarter of 2020 with the bulk of the numbers coming from National Guard and Reserve troops.  Click here to learn more.
Native American
The National Congress of American Indians Announces Dante Desiderio as its New Chief Executive Officer: On April 15, 2021, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is pleased to announce that Dante Desiderio has been selected as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and will be joining NCAI on May 11, 2021. In his new position, Desiderio will oversee the day-to-day management and operations of the organization for an improved path to success for NCAI and the NCAI Fund. He will report directly to the NCAI Executive Committee. Read more here.
Parent/Family Engagement (and Youth!)
What the Research Says about the Best Way to Engage Parents: Check out this Hechinger Report piece.
US Poverty Statistics: Find out about who are the poorest in the US, changes in the poverty rate over time, and the impact of age, race, disability, and other characteristics on poverty.
Principals show bias in responses to Black parents, new study finds: Check out this piece on how principals show bias in their responses to Black parents
Remote Learning/School Reopening
COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs, U.S. Department of Education, APRIL 9, 2021, Provides additional strategies for safely reopening all of America's schools and to promote educational equity by addressing opportunity gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Find Volume 2 here and COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 1 here.
Social-Emotional Learning
As Schools Reopen How are They Addressing Student and Family Transition Problems: As schools reopen, the challenges involve much more than implementing mitigation strategies that limit transmission of COVID-19. The transition back calls for a psychologically welcoming environment and enhancing student and learning supports. Read more.
5 Ideas for Developing More Inclusive Volunteer Management: For many nonprofit organizations, diversity and inclusion are considered a top priority in their annual goals, and for a good reason. A team with a wide array of backgrounds benefits from unique perspectives, resulting in better decision-making and innovative approaches toward the nonprofit’s mission. However, infusing diversity and inclusion into your organization will likely require new practices to be put in place. An excellent place to start promoting inclusivity is your organization’s volunteer programs. Learn more.
Transition to Adult Life/Youth
Telehealth Toolkit; New toolkit for joint telehealth visit with pediatric and adult healthcare clinicians and transferring youth adults: This tip sheet offers pediatric and adult clinicians sample content that can be used to facilitate a “warm handoff” to adult care as well as a sample resource for the transferring young adult that explains the telehealth visit.
Trauma & Toxic Stress
Center for Youth Wellness Resources: The Center for Youth Wellness has some good information and resources on adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress
The Navigating Excellence-Parent Assistance and Collaboration Team (NE-PACT), the Region A Technical Assistance Center, provides technical assistance to federally-funded parent centers -- Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) - NEPACT Logolocated in the states of CT-AFCAMP, CT-CPAC, DC-AJE, DE-PIC, MD-PPMD, ME-MPF, MA-FCSN, NH-PIC, NJ-SPAN, NJ-ASCF, NY-AFC, NY-CIDA, NY-LIAC, NY-UWS, NY-Starbridge, NY-INCLUDEnyc, NY-Sinergia, NY-PNWNY, PA-HUNE, PA- ME, PA-PEAL, PR-APNI, RI-RIPIN, VI-DRVI and VT-VFN. These Parent Centers are independent non-profit organizations. We also provide support to emerging parent centers and parent organizations serving families of children with or at risk of being identified as having disabilities. In addition, we work with early intervention and education agencies (local, state and federal level) seeking information regarding best practices in involving parents of children with disabilities in systems improvement.

The center activities are specifically designed to:

  • Enhance the capacity of parent centers to provide effective services to families of children with special needs and to work effectively with their states to improve special education and early intervention systems; and,
  • Facilitate their connections to the larger technical assistance network that supports research-based training, including educating parents about effective practices that improve results for children with disabilities. For more information click here.