Collaboration - Empowerment - Capacity-building

Welcome to the RAISE e-news letter, designed to identify and share resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.

Executive Editor: Peg Kinsell

In This Issue

RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the TA provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.

RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 state-level PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between SPAN, the Native American Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and the six Regional PTACs.

Find your Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)

PERSPECTIVE's guest blogger, Beth Schill, describes life with an invisible disability, and provides insight into her experiences and suggestions for advocacy:

"Whether we have epilepsy, MS, mental disorders, a learning disability, we all have something valuable to teach in a world that is becoming increasingly fixated on "how much a person is worth." We have innate value in understanding ourselves, our minds, our bodies, and can teach others how to respect not just us, but themselves as well. But it takes courage."


Helping Military Families

Many Parent Centers have military installations in their areas of responsibility. What about those service members who are not on installations? There are many military-connected families in areas that do not live or work behind the gates or walls of a typical installation.

In fact
, as of the 2013 Department of Defense Demographics, there were a total of 1,888,486 military children (including Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve)

Are you providing support and assistance to a military family?  Here are some resources to help you:

Branch MPTAC  - Military Parent Technical Assistance Center can help.

Here is a great article on Special Needs Trusts for Military Families.


Evidence-based Practice: Volunteerism as a Pathway to Work

In addition to benefits related to employment, volunteering can help students and families find friends, connect with their community, learn new skills, find resources and support, and increase self-confidence self-esteem, and life satisfaction.

Watch the video , Corporation for National and Community Service - Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment, on YouTube.

Did you know:

  • Volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers
  • Volunteers without a high school diploma have a 51 percent higher likelihood of finding employment
  • Volunteers living in rural areas have a 55 percent higher likelihood of finding employment
Where to find volunteer experiences:
  • High School Guidance Office
  • Youth Organizations
  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • Civic and Service Organization
  • Fundraisers for Causes that Matter
Or online, check out:

Helping Families and Youth Communicate When Stress Gets in the Way

In advocacy situations, stress and fear can interfere with effective communication. Here are some tips to share with families and youth:
  1. Recognize Stress. Tune into your body: Are you "forgetting" to breathe?
  2. Are your muscles tight? Are your hands clenched? Is your stomach upset? Do you feel dizzy or disoriented?
  3. Take a moment. You can decide to continue a conversation or postpone it.
  4. Come to your senses. One way to relieve stress is through the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.  Take a few deep breaths, inhaling through the nose. Try clenching and relaxing muscles. Imagine a soothing image. Each person responds differently to sensory input, so find things that calm YOU.
  5. Look for humor. Humor can be a great way to relieve stress, when used appropriately. Lighten the mood by sharing a joke or amusing story. Avoid sarcasm  - it is an angry humor that is likely to set communication back a few steps, not move it forward.
  6. Meet in the middle. Is there a middle ground or starting point on which you can agree? Getting SOME agreement reduces the stress levels for everyone involved and provides a foundation for the next conversation.
  7. Step Away. It might be best to take a quick break and move away from the situation. Take a quick walk, or find a place to close your eyes for a few minutes. Physical movement or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can help.

A new technical assistance document released by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, sets forth the vision for the VR program as a partner in the workforce development system. The paper describes a framework to support implementation activities that will help workers with disabilities to acquire the skills and credentials they need to pursue in-demand jobs and obtain competitive integrated employment.

What you need to know:

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Ace (WIOA) offers a unique opportunity to strengthen innovation in the workforce development system, connects individuals who confront barriers to employment to partner programs and resources, and supports establishment of a VR program that addresses the needs of individuals with disabilities, including youth and students with disabilities to achieve their vocational goals.

USDOE acknowledges that these goals will be best met in a State workforce development system in which services are:
  • Aligned with State and local needs;
  • VR service goals and priorities are based on rigorous research and
  • Promising models; and
  • VR services are integrated with education and training programs or coordinated with employers and social service providers to promote career pathways.

What you can do:

To achieve successful implementation and the full intent of WIOA and RSA's vision for the VR program as a workforce development system partner, RSA will need to work with with VR agencies and other partners in the workforce system.  

Partner with your state VR agency to help them address the heightened emphasis on the provision of services to students and youth with disabilities.


Funding Expanded for American Indian Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities

The U.S. Department of Education announced the award of more than $50.4 million in new grants to support American Indian Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities in a dozen states. Under the Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities Program, the formula-based grants will help eligible higher education institutions increase their self-sufficiency by providing funds to strengthen their academic quality, management and overall fiscal stability.

$14 Million Awarded for 40 Special Education Parent Training and Information Centers

The U.S. Department of Education awarded nearly $14 million in five-year grants to operate 40 parent training and information centers to assist families of children with disabilities. The centers will provide parents with details and assistance on laws, policies and research-based education practices for children with disabilities. They will inform parents how data can be used to guide instruction; how to interpret results from evaluations and assessments; and ways to effectively engage in school reform activities.