Consider This...
Things to Consider in December 2021 from RTSC
This Month:

  • Cover Article
  • December Articles
  • Useful Tips and Resources
  • Upcoming Events

News and information about education, research, and support for SESPs; adoptive, foster, and kinship caregivers; and child welfare and education professionals helping children with trauma and other special needs get the most from their education.
 New Years Resolutions
By Mary-Beth Landy
Senior Trainer, and Support Specialist
I know that 2021 isn’t quite over yet, but have you given much thought to 2022? Now seems to be the time that everyone thinks about their New Year’s resolutions, how they are going to make changes in their lives; exercise more, lose those holiday pounds, take it easy more. So, should we make a list, set some goals, or just admit now that they are probably going to go by the wayside by February? I’m not trying to be defeatist, but more of a realist.

But you are probably saying to yourself, “Well I want to make some changes. I want this year to matter!” Then let’s talk about making it matter. What are some of the points that make a difference? Connections, Caring, and Impact, to name a few?
Well have I have a great opportunity to have all of that in one package! Become a Special Education Surrogate Parent (SESP) for a student in the care and custody of the Department of Children and Families in Massachusetts. The role of a SESP is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in accordance with §300.519. Over the years there have been at least 16,000 youth who have been served through this program in this state alone. Overwhelming isn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be. We, at the Recruitment, Training, and Support Center (RTSC) for Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESP), are here to make manageable for you. 

But why consider doing this? First, we ask for a 30-40 hour commitment a year. That’s equivalent to a work week over the period of a year. But more importantly you get to make a difference in the life of the most vulnerable of students in the state. Ask some people who are already serving as SESPs.

“It’s one of the most rewarding things that one can do. You really can make a direct difference in a child’s life!” Oonagh B.

“You get such a rich experience. It’s one of the formative learning experiences in education, even as an educator. I’m so grateful to be a SESP!” Melissa W.

Many of our SESPs are retired educational professionals, parents of students who have aged out of the secondary education system, and parents with experiences in the special education process. Many people have become a SESP because they know someone who is, or has been one, and has heard how much of an impact you can make in the life of a child.

Start the year off right, and start the process that will not only change your life but that of a child. To begin the process, take the first step and click here, and start on a life changing journey.

For more information go to How to Become an SESP today! You won’t regret it!

Knowing that if we are working now (with a student) that it might not get recognized by them, but in the long run, it does make a difference!”  Elaine A.
“This is one of the most impactful ways that we can make sure that we are taking responsibility for all our kids.”
December Articles
For many people, the holiday season is joyous, a time to celebrate with your loved ones. However, for many people, the holiday season is filled with triggers, including an increased presence of alcohol, familial expectations, or a reminder of what one may not have. These triggers may lead to feelings of loneliness and shame. This article provides strategies for a trauma-informed approach to the holiday season. While directed towards service providers, these strategies provide helpful tools for anyone who has people in their lives that have experienced trauma. 

adolescents meditating
Everyone experiences stress. It’s a natural feeling, wired into us so that we can be more alert and focused when faced with danger. However, when stress becomes chronic, it can take a toll on our overall well-being. This article provides several strategies that can help us manage our stress, including both long-term strategies and tools to help with stress in the moment. Learning to manage stress can help us cope with stressful situations in the future and can help improve our emotional and physical health.

While some children make friends easily and feel very comfortable socializing, others may desire more alone time or feel more comfortable making friends online. Parents often want to see their children be involved with “real-life” social activities and have many friendships at school. However virtual friends, similar to what would have been “pen pals” before the days of the internet, can be just as meaningful as real-life friendships. Everyone approaches their social lives differently, and it is important not to force children into social activities that they may not be comfortable. As stated in this article, “being happy with one’s social experiences and friends – whether virtual or in real life – is what it’s all about.” 

Boredom can be an uncomfortable feeling and, as with other feelings of discomfort, it is human nature to try to escape or avoid it. With our cellphones right at our fingertips, it has become so easy for us to escape boredom. However, as stated by Jane Hauser in this article, “we’re trying to swipe and scroll the boredom away, but in doing that, we are actually making ourselves more boredom, because every time we get our phone out we’re not allowing our mind to wander and to solve our own boredom problems.” It is important, therefore, that we allow children to learn to be comfortable with boredom. In fact, “boredom can be a great way to teach children to manage frustration and regulate emotions when things get boring or not going their way."

It is so easy to get caught up in the negative, especially with so many negative headlines and times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we can rewire our brains to appreciate the positive through gratitude practice. We can cultivate ‘mature gratitude’ through acts of kindness, giving thanks, and savoring the little things. Gratitude is a lifelong practice that, not only can “help us cope during times of adversity, but it’s a practice that could help lead us toward more happiness, satisfaction, and well-being."

Useful Tools, Media and Resources

On November 30th, Family Voices United to End racism Against Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs and Their Families (FamU) released a toolkit website to support the dismantling or racism in health care. 

This collection of resources will help you learn strategies to help your child with their mental health. 

Update on COVID-19 Action Steps to Support Schools, Students and Families (DESE)

This memorandum from DESE, produced on December 7th provides an update and overview on action steps to support schools, students, and families this winter and return to school after break. 

Started in September 2021 and continuing through June 2022, The Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) offers monthly information Zoom sessions and informal chat on BSEA Mediation and Facilitation.

TIPS: Transition Information for Parents and Students with IEPs (Ages 14-22) Brochures

A series produced by the LINK Center- a project of FCSN and DESE

For the past few months, we have been highlighting brochures from our TIPS Series! The third brochure in the series is "Transition Information for Students with IEPs and their Parents" Click on the image on the right to view the full brochure or click HERE to see all of the brochures in this series!
Upcoming Federation Events
Training Opportunities
Transition Planning:

This presentation provides an understanding of the transition planning process, including why transition planning is important, services that could be included, who is eligible, student and parent/SESP roles in transition planning, and the role of student’s vision. We will discuss how to prepare for a transition planning meeting, using the transition planning form, the age of majority, the anticipated graduation date, and the options when the Team does not agree, including procedural due process rights. 

Trauma Training:

This training will offer a systematic approach to looking at Developmental Childhood Trauma as it impacts our students in the child welfare system. This interactive training will study trauma’s effects on the academic and social/emotional learning of a student and the impact on their IEP.

Discipline and Suspension:

This training describes different types of disciplinary offenses, the school responsibilities for discipline, range of consequences for rule violations, the difference between suspensions, expulsions, and emergency removals, different categories of suspensions, procedures for out of school suspensions and expulsions, and legal protections for students on IEPs.
Are you interested in becoming a Special Education Surrogate Parent (SESP)?
 Visit the links below to learn more!

Visit: RTSC Website

(800)331-0688 or (617)236-7210