December 2018
Introducing Irelsa!
Welcome to Our Newest Family Support Specialist in Central MA

PPAL is pleased to welcome Irelsa to our team as a family support specialist in the juvenile justice program in the Central Massachusetts region. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Irelsa is the mother of an adult son with special needs and mental health issues. She has a background in social work and trauma.  Irelsa first learned of PPAL when she was invited to one of our monthly meetings. After attending a meeting, she knew that PPAL would be a tremendous resource both for her and for the families she works with as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. Irelsa is also a special education surrogate parent for children in the custody of the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Welcome to PPAL, Irelsa!

Youth MOVE Members Speak on Panel
Look for More Opportunities for Youth Movers to Speak in 2019 and Beyond!

Youth MOVE has been busy this season! Several of our youth were given the opportunity to sit on a panel and speak on restraint and seclusion last week.   This was a six core strategy event that was put on by the Department of Mental Health.  They did a wonderful job!

After the New Year, the youth and young adult speakers bureau will start outreach on PPAL and Youth Moves social media accounts. They have already started conversations with some local and state agencies who may be interested in having a Youth MOVE Speaker at their events or staff meetings.  If you are interested in having a youth or young adult speak at an event or meeting, please contact Jonathan at PPAL!

Youth MOVE will be attending a Worcester Railers hockey game on December 22nd at the DCU Center thanks to Mateo Anderson, our Youth Development Specialist. Congratulations to Mateo for securing this funding!

Youth MOVE would also like to give recognition and thanks to Dalene Basden for her donation of a game truck.  On December 19 th , Youth MOVE members were able to enjoy a 2 hour rental of an Ultimate Game Truck thanks to Dalene. Thank you!!

This has been a positive year for Youth MOVE, and next year will be even better!


YouthMOVE Calendar
Check Out Our January Events

Summit Success!
Mark Your Calendars for the Next Summit in June 2019

We were happy to host another successful Support Group Summit on December 7
th in Framingham.  This is the fourth Summit funded by the Department of Mental Health (DMH) that brought support group facilitators from around Massachusetts together for a day of great presentations, lively discussion, and really good pizza!

Thanks to everyone who came out looking to improve on their own support groups or excited to start their own new support group. We look forward to hosting the 5th Support Group Summit in June! If you would like to be included in the June Summit, please send Beth an email with your contact information at

PPAL is Ever-Expanding! 
New Contracts and Grants Expand PPAL's Work

PPAL is happy to announce some new funding received to continue our mission and hard work!

Meri Viano was instrumental in receiving funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to develop a training curriculum to support and build family leaders in the juvenile justice system. She will work closely with Mireya Watson, PPAL's Juvenile Justice Project Coordinator, to create this interactive and resourceful training for parents, as well as all PPAL's great juvenile justice contractor team. Congrats to Meri and PPAL's great juvenile justice partners on this funding and thank you to the Anne E. Casey Foundation!   This curriculum was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  We thank them for their support but acknowledge that the findings and conclusions presented in this curriculum are this of the PPAL authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the foundation.

For a second year, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation has awarded PPAL a grant for outreach and navigation for families in the Greater Worcester area. This grant will help build on PPAL's previous work with parent leaders in diverse communities who develop skills as navigators, as well as help other parents access the clinical and community resources they need.  Thank you Greater Worcester Community Foundation for supporting our advocacy work in diverse communities!

JDAI Conference Gives Youth and Families Voices
Four Workshops Help to Explain Scope of Issues

On December 17th, PPAL and Youth MOVE were present for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) 11th annual conference. This year theme was "The Inclusion of Youth and Family Voices in Juvenile Justice Reform."
The conference had 4 amazing workshops, all which were facilitated or co-facilitated by young adults and families. Each workshop address the some of the most common areas where family and youth voice is often dismissed. Honorable Lori Dumas (Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and 2 young adults, Quanir Trice and Jawara Girffin, Esq., facilitated a conversation with attendees about "why the voices of youth and families matter in the juvenile justice system." In this workshop, they discussed how to build partnerships among professionals, case managers, researchers, advocates, judges, court staff, policy makers, parents, and volunteers who work in child welfare and/or juvenile justice.
Youth and police engagement was facilitated by Casey Starr (Main South Community Development Corporation), Thomas Brooks (Boston Police), Jeffrey Lopez (Boston Police & We Belong: Empowering Youth Through Leadership), and Lavell Fulks ( Madison Development Corp). They discussed the importance of relationships between police and youth as a major challenge that impacts justice reform work in communities.
Lydia Proulx (Youth MOVE National), Rachel Labrie (PPAL/Youth MOVE MA), Mateo Anderson (PPAL/Youth MOVE MA), Corey Prachniak-Rincon (Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ), EvEvnen (Mae-Bright Group), and AlalaRei (Roxbury Youthworks, Inc.) facilitated a workshop to discuss "Listening to youth to guide system-wide gender responsiveness" which touched on important points such as increasing dialogue about gender fluidity, the imperative that youth be at the center of every discussion about their lives, and continual respectful of youth and young adults' gender identity. Thank you to Alan from Youth MOVE MA for also joining the panel as the youngest newest speaker connected to the Speakers Bureau of Youth MOVE MA.
Meri Viano (Associate Director of PPAL), Jaclyn Cirinna (Youth Peer Consultant for Annie E. Casey), and Mireya Watson (Project Coordinator of Juvenile Justice for PPAL) facilitated a discussion about interacting with families and youth with juvenile justice involvement. The discussion was focused on seeing youth and families as the experts on their lives and journeys, as well as how providers can be supportive and successful when engaging with youth and families by utilizing their clinical knowledge and combining with the family's experiences for best the outcomes.

The conference ended with a youth panel discussion lead and facilitated by our PPAL Youth MOVE coordinator, Jonathan Mobley. Attendees were receptive to the feedback and stories shared by these brave young adults. By sharing their personal experiences and highlighting the challenges and opportunities they encounter while involved with the juvenile justice system, the youth and young adults inspired others to make changes to the system and create equitable and fair treatment for marginalized communities.

Juvenile Justice Conversation Continues in Miami, Florida!
Team of Leaders from Massachusetts Lead the Way in Juvenile Justice Efforts

Massachusetts had an amazing team on-site to discuss local juvenile justice efforts with other states in Miami with the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Commissioner Forbes and Thula Sibanda from the Department of Youth Services formed a small group of passionate leaders to meet and collaborate on the next steps for Massachusetts. Chief  Amy L. Nechtem   is the Chief Justice for the juvenile courts in Massachusetts and concurrently presides over the juvenile court in Essex County, Massachusetts. She attended the event along with John Millett, Probation Statewide Supervisor from  Juvenile Court Department, and Meri Viano, Associate Director at PPAL. They shared conversations, innovation ideas, and additional supports for next steps.
It was an amazing meeting that was held over two days with discussions and opportunities. PPAL continues to see DYS and Courts and Probation invested in Family Voice. Looking forward to 2019!

Come Join Our Team!
Job Openings in Boston and Worcester

PPAL has three new job openings based out of the Boston and Worcester offices. Please check them out at this link and apply by sending your cover letter and resume to We hope to hear from you! 

Happy Holidays from PPAL!


Blog Alert 

Did you miss our blogs?  Read the latest blog by Lisa Lambert on "Is it a support, education, leadership, networking or advocacy group?" about what a support group is and everything it can be. Check it out now here!

You can now subscribe to the PPAL blog and never miss a post.  Look for the subscribe information on the blog page. 

Transition Age Youth Support Groups

Are you a parent of a transition aged youth? Do you have lots of questions about finding services or education related to this important time in our children's lives? Transition Aged Youth (TAY) support groups for parents are a great way to get all of your questions answered! Our support groups are not just a place to sit and vent; it is a place to share, grow, and learn. It is place to meet new friends. It is also a place to hear great topical speakers. Keep your eyes open for new speakers coming each month!
Transition Aged Youth Support Groups for Parents are held throughout the state. Check out these two for Leominster and Worcester groups below. Or check out our full list on our website. Hope to see you there!


Email   for more information about these or other support groups and email   for more information about upcoming trainings or to inquire about a training in your area! Hope to see you there! 

January Monthly Meeting: 
Town Hall with DMH Commissioner Joan Mikula and Deputy Commissioner Emily Sherwood!

Thank you to everyone who came out to the December Statewide with Emily Rubin, Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at UMass Medical School and Director of Sibling Support at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center! We had a great presentation and conversation on supporting siblings of children with mental health needs. Thanks to everyone who came out and participated!

In January, we are so pleased to have Department of Mental Health Commissioner Joan Mikula and Deputy Commissioner Emily Sherwood come out for a 'town hall' style meeting. We hope you can come with your questions for the DMH Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. 

We invite you to attend the next PPAL Monthly Meeting on January 8th at Plymouth Church in Framingham if you have lived experience (family members, family partners, family support specialists, parent/caregivers, young adult peers, or others in family support roles). 

Please pre-register by January 4th to be guaranteed a seat and lunch.  
Tuesday, January 8th,  10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Plymouth Church 87 Edgell Road Framingham, MA 01702
Contact PPAL Statewide at 508-767-9725 or to RSVP

Latest Poll Results

December Poll Results

While the holiday season is wonderful, it can also cause stress. What works best for you to de-stress?

Self care for yourself.....37.5%

Keeping to a routine.....37.5%

Spending time with family and friends.....12.5%

Being present in the moment.....12.5%

Take our January Poll on our website:

When your child goes into a CBAT bed (Community Based Acute Treatment), what is your biggest concern?

No proper discharge planning

Length of stay is to short

Length of stay is to long

Contact with outside providers doesn't occur

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