PPAL in Print

August 2022

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PPAL Expands Services in Central MA

Programming Continues to Be Offered Statewide

Are you a caregiver of a child, youth or teen struggling with mental health? Do you live in Central Massachusetts? PPAL’s new, expanded programming in Central Massachusetts, in collaboration with the Central MA area of the Department of Mental Health (DMH), can provide you with information, new skills, and a network of other families! 

Check out our expanded services in Central MA, including one-to-one family support, Ask the Advocate, support groups, training, help with parenting teens, and support with navigating the maze of mental health systems.

In addition to our expanded activities in new areas, PPAL continues to provide support to families across the state, including training, tip sheets, one-to-one support, our Juvenile Justice program, and more. So wherever you live in Massachusetts, reach out to us anytime - we’re here to help!

What Support Is Needed in Your Community?

Complete Our Survey or Join a Focus Group

to Let Us Know!

Do you live in Central Massachusetts? PPAL is increasing support for families in your area - and we’d love for you to tell us what you need!

Please consider joining a focus group or completing the survey to use your voice and parenting experience to shape what family and community supports will look like in the future.

We’re looking forward to learning from you!

  • Canton Area: Thursday, September 8, 12-1 p.m. Register by clicking here

  • Westborough/South County Area:  Friday, September 9, 12-1 p.m. Register by clicking here.

  • North County Area: Tuesday, September 13, 5-7 p.m. Register by clicking here.

  • Entire Central Mass Area: Wednesday, September 21, 5-7 p.m. Register by clicking here.

Take Survey

PPAL Given Seat on 988 Commission

Weighing in on the New Emergency Number for Mental Health-Related Issues

Earlier this summer we saw the nationwide rollout of 988 - a new emergency number for mental health-related distress, including thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crises, and any other kind of emotional distress.

To learn about its impact and how to improve it, the Massachusetts government has created a 988 commission - and named a seat specifically for PPAL.

Did you know that PPAL has seats on other state commissions as well? PPAL sits on the Commission for Safe and Supportive Schools, created in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. As part of this commission, Lisa Lambert, our former Executive Director, traveled to DC to speak with former president Barack Obama on how to keep our schools safe. PPAL also holds a seat on our state’s Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) advisory group, as a result of the Rosie D. lawsuit. Finally, we are fortunate to have one of our PPAL staff represent her own lived experience on a statewide Juvenile Justice Committee.


Ace the Return to School!

PPAL Tip Sheets and Clinics Can Help

Are you or your child anxious about the return to school in September? Here are some tips to help. 

  • Listen: When kids express anxiety about going to school, listen seriously. Rather than dismissing these fears (“Nothing to be worried about! You’ll be fine!”), listening to and acknowledging your child’s feelings will help them feel more secure.  It's possible something difficult happened at school last year, such as bullying. Ask your child how they get along with others at school, and report any incidents of bullying to the school or district.
  • Preview: There are many ways you can preview the new school year to help your child feel more comfortable when school actually starts:
  • If the child was assigned any summer reading or other homework, make sure it’s completed and ready to go. 
  • If you need to buy school supplies, let your child come with you and help pick things out. Maybe they will look forward to using their new supplies at school.
  • If your child is new to the school building, drive by the school and check out the playground/outdoor space on a weekend when few others will be there.
  • Reach out to your school’s SEPAC or PTO and ask to be connected with a family that just completed the grade your child is going into. Help your child write a list of questions they have about their new grade, then chat with the parents about what to expect, and/or get the kids together so that the older child can preview things for yours. 
  • Once you have a class list, get your child together with some kids they will be in class with this coming year. 
  • If you know who your child’s teacher will be, let them know ahead of time that your child is nervous; ask if your child could meet the teacher and/or see the classroom briefly ahead of time, and if the teacher has any other suggestions. 
  • Learn
  • Find more suggestions on PPAL’s tip sheet “Helping Your Child with School Anxiety and Avoidance,” available in both English and Spanish.
  • Get individualized help with your specific concerns at PPAL’s weekly School Problem-Solving Clinic (free and open throughout the summer!)
  • Go straight to the source with “Ask the Advocate”; every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, our Worcester office hosts a professional educational advocate to answer your school and special education questions.

Spots Available for Sibling Support Program

Sign Up Today for This Free Program on 9/1/22!

UMass Chan Medical School has openings for the Sibling Support Program on Thursday, September 1st! This free program focuses on building sibling resiliency, decreasing trauma and strengthening families of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Developmental Disabilities and/or Mental Health Issues.

You can learn more about the program below. To reserve your spot, call 857-523-1145 or email Emily Rubin.

Juvenile Justice Program Networks, Supports Families

Getting Back to In-Person Support Statewide

As the state continues to open up, the Juvenile Justice (JJ) team is working on getting back in person. It has recently attended meet and greets in Suffolk, Bristol, and Worcester counties in order to network and rebuild connections. The JJ team has also been very active with the Statewide School to Prison Pipeline committee. The team has joined all of the subcommittees this initiative has created, including the Legal, Literacy, and Restorative Justice subcommittees, and represents the only parent voice at all of these tables. The JJ team also continues to support families one-to-one.

One more note - the JJ team is hiring! We have a position open for a part-time (20 hrs/week) Family Support Specialist for Hampden and Worcester counties. Check out this and other employment opportunities at PPAL here.

Come Work for PPAL!

Job Openings Now Available

Have you raised, or are you raising, a child with mental health needs? PPAL values that experience! As we seek to fill several positions, you may be just who we are looking for!

PPAL is currently hiring both family support specialists and family support coordinators in several regions across the state. If you’d like to join a passionate, mission-driven team in advocating for children with mental health needs, learn more and apply for a position here.

PPAL values diversity and especially seeks applicants from diverse backgrounds and/or those who speak multiple languages. PPAL also values those who have direct lived experience raising a child with significant mental and behavioral health challenges and gives hiring preference to individuals who have this direct lived experience.

Apply Today
PPAL's Question of the Month
Visit Our Website to Answer the Latest Questions

Every month, PPAL asks those raising a child or supporting a young adult with behavioral health needs, or working closely with someone who is, how things are going in a particular area.

In August, we asked you “How confident are you about school for your child this year?”

Here’s what you had to say!

In September, we are asking, “What are some of the costs of raising a child with behavioral health needs?

Be sure to visit our website to answer September's question!

Parent/Professional Advocacy League
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