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"The VMRC Newsletter"

Friday, December 8, 2023

Message from the Executive Director

Tony Anderson

The Governor Recognizes the 21 Regional Centers at the State Tree Lighting Ceremony for Their Service to Californians with Developmental Disabilities and their Families.

This week we participated in a wonderful new holiday event with Governor Gavin Newsom, the First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and their children. Every year for the past 40 years the governor hosts the tree lighting ceremony lighting the tree with the help of a young child with a developmental disability served by a regional center. Harley Goodpasture, a 5-year-old student from Crown Hill Elementary, was selected by Inland Regional Center to be that special guest to help the governor.

This year the event included 21 Christmas Trees, representing the 21 regional centers, all decorated with ornaments made by people with developmental disabilities. We are thankful to the governor for taking this time to recognize the contributions of the regional centers to the people of California. Grateful to our staff who collected the ornaments and decorated the tree, our community for making the ornaments. A special thank you to our two self-advocates who told Governor Newsom how much they enjoyed their jobs and gave their recommendations for Jamba Juice drinks (they both have jobs at Jamba Juice) and who explained to the First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom why self-advocacy was so important to them. 

Watch the 10 minute tree lighting event here 

A Quick Update on the Executive Director Search

The Valley Mountain Regional Center Selection Committee met last Saturday to continue their work to recruit a new Executive Director for our region. The committee has made their recommendations and now the board and its representative is in the process of making a final decision. Hopefully by next Friday we'll be able to make an announcement.

VMRC Board of Directors Meeting (Hybrid)

Wednesday, December 13, 2023, 6:00 PM

702 N. Aurora Street, Stockton, CA 95202, Cohen Board Room

Click Here for Zoom Information

As a part of this meeting, we will have a presentation and public comment on the National Core Indicators (NCI) project from the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) North Valley Hills Office

Case Management Update - Children

Tara Sisemore-Hester

Director of Consumer Services - Children

The Road Less Traveled By – How early brain development affects language in autistic children

with Tracey Tasker, MA, CCC/SLP

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

12:00pm - 2:00pm

Virtual Event


Can't attend the event live? 

Register to receive access to the recording!

Participants will have the opportunity to evaluate research from multiple disciplines and develop an understanding of how neurodiverse brains process information differently and what that looks like in the development of early language milestones.


Learner Objectives:

1. Review language brain models

2. Analyze research on the neural underpinning of atypical language development in autistic children

3. Describe how brain differences should drive treatment decisions


Topics to be addressed

·   How brain models have changed and the relevance to language pathways for autistic children

·   Let’s make sure we are all speaking the same language – when do we use pre-verbal, minimally verbal and non-verbal

·   Do the same processes that drive development in typically developing children drive language in autistic children

·   Gesture development

·   Busting neuromyths and finding neurotruths

·   Diversity in neurodiversity – bilingual learners and girls

What does the research say about autism treatment efficacy

First and foremost, Tracey is a mom of two sets of twins; having an autistic son and 29-week preemies are the reasons she entered the field of early intervention. Tracey lives in San Diego with her family and five cats, however, she is originally from NJ and holds a BA in Economics/English and an MBA from Rutgers University, and an MA in Speech-Language Pathology from Montclair State University. Tracey is on an early start eligibility assessment team as well as a seasoned early intervention SLP.  Read more Here

Non-Member: $55

IDA Agency/Individual Member: $40

IDA Parent/Student/New Clinician Member: $30



IDA CE Hours: Nursing, PT, Speech and Language $20 (2 hours)



ADA Requests: Contact IDA @ [email protected]

with ADA request by January 31, 2024

Register Now

PACER offers nearly 100 helpful, free workshops a year. We cover all regions of Minnesota and provide many of our Workshops via Live Streaming Online. Learn more at

See All Upcoming PACER Workshops

PBS KIDS Announces CARL THE COLLECTOR, Its First Series Centering on Autistic Characters

by PBS Publicity• Published on November 9, 2023

Read More Here


Time Sensitive! Your Input Needed ASAP!

We want to hear from you about topics and speakers you'd like to see at the 2024 Early Start Partners Symposium (ESPS). Let us know by completing the ESPS 2024 survey by December 12. 


Last week we shared the news that the Biden administration released a Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs. This publication builds on a 2015 policy statement "with renewed commitment and urgency as children with disabilities continue to face significant barriers accessing and participating in inclusive early childhood programs." Check it out here in the Neighborhood.


Registration for Winter session of Early Start Online is in full swing. Sign up for the course(s) of your choice before registration closes on December 29.

Case Management Update - Adults

Christine Couch

Director of Consumer Services - Adults

Virtual Presentations

We are pleased to announce the upcoming presentations on important topics!


These presentations are designed to provide Spanish-speaking families with knowledge, skills, and tools that can help them succeed as they navigate complex systems and services.


Everyone can benefit from these presentations and that is why we invite parents to participate.


Whether they are looking to improve their advocacy skills, have questions, or simply want to learn something new, parents will find these topics informative, engaging, and useful.


The registration links are include for each presentation.


We hope to see everyone there!

Click Here for More Information


Friday, February 9, 2024! 

The Tim Tebow Foundation has a great passion for people with special needs. In 2014 they launched an initiative to create “Night To Shine”, an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs at host churches across the World. This event is 100% FREE to our Honored Guests.

Modesto Guest Registration is CLOSED. Volunteers are still needed!!

Manteca Guest Registration is currently OPEN. Volunteers are needed as well.

Lodi Guest Registration is CLOSED. Volunteers are still needed!!

Clinical Update

Dr. Claire Lazaro

Clinical Director

Community Services Update


Brian Bennett, Director of Community Services

Electronic Visit Verification (EVV)

The California Electronic Visit Verification (CalEVV) state team will be hosting an office hour meeting in December via WebEx. Office hours allow consumers, providers, regional center staff and others the opportunity to ask our EVV team questions regarding EVV after department selected topics are discussed. For the month of December the topics that will be discussed are Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Live-in Caregiver Exemption.

Upcoming Office Hours

December 11, 2023, from 1:00 pm-2:00pm

TOPIC: Non-Regional Center Code Updates, Multi-Factor Authentication & Live-In Caregiver Exemption

Register for WebEx Meeting Here

VMRC is seeking qualified, dedicated, Adult Community Crisis Home and Enhanced Behavior Supports Home providers! Start Up funds are available for this Request for Proposal!



Tuesday December5, 2023

Request for Proposal release (Third posting)

Friday December 15, 2023

Applicants conference

Friday January 5, 2024

Proposal deadline to submit

January 8-19, 2024

Evaluation of proposals by selection committee

Interviews with highest-ranking applicants, if applicable.

January 24, 2024

Notice of selection of applicants

Thursday February 1, 2024

Start-up contract executed

Thursday February 1, 2024

Notification of project award posted on VMRC website

Please check the VMRC website for the application

Contact Division Manager, Robert Fernandez [email protected] or Director of Community Services [email protected] with questions about the RFP

Applicants conference: December 15th 2-3 pm via Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer, mobile app or room device

Click here to join the meeting

Meeting ID: 213 862 420 754 Passcode: WKViq7

DEI Update


Mark Crear, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)Manager

The time has come for one of the most popular Jewish religious observances − Hanukkah.


We are honored and delighted that our very own Marlene Lombardo (Service Coordinator • Case Management) has agreed to discuss the ins and outs of Hanukkah. 

In Summary

What Are Traditional Hanukkah Greetings?

  1. Chag Urim Sameach! (Happy Festival of Lights!)
  2. Chag Sameach! (Happy holiday!)
  3. Chag Hanukkah Sameach! (Happy Hanukkah!)


How do you spell Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is the correct spelling, but chanukah is also acceptable. Hannukah is a common misspelling of the holiday.

When is Chanukah 2023?

Hanukkah runs from sundown on Thursday, Dec. 7 through sundown on Friday, Dec. 15 in 2023.


While Christians celebrate Christmas every year on Dec. 25, Jews can celebrate Hanukkah as early as November. This is because the date fluctuates with the Gregorian calendar, which uses a solar dating system. The date is always the same on the Hebrew or Jewish calendar because it is timed with the moon.

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah − often referred to as the festival of lights − reaffirms the ideals of Judaism, commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE by lighting candles over the span of eight days.

How many days is Hanukkah?

The festival of lights runs for eight days and nights.


Why does Hanukkah last for 8 days?

The Talmud − which is a compilation of ancient teachings regarded as sacred by the Jewish people − tells of Judah Maccabee, a guerrilla leader that helped preserve the Jewish religion.


He entered the Second Temple of Jerusalem only to find a small jar of oil that had not been defiled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king of the Hellenistic Syrian kingdom who invaded the Jews.


Antiochus forbade Jews to practice their religion and demanded all copies of the Jewish Law be burned. After the Second Temple of Jerusalem was ransacked by Antiochus, there was only enough oil in the jar to burn for a single day. However, the oil miraculously burned for eight days until new consecrated oil could be found. Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days to remember and honor the miracle.


How do you celebrate Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is celebrated in multiple ways. Celebration includes lighting a candle each day of Hanukkah using a menorah. Religious rituals can include almsgiving, daily reading of Scripture, recitation of some of the Psalms and singing of a special hymn.


Some nonreligious customs of celebration include eating certain treats, giving children gifts of chocolate coins and playing with a dreidel.


What is a menorah?

A menorah is a multi-branch candelabra used during religious rituals of Judaism. There is a seven-branch menorah and an eight-branch menorah. The eight-branch menorah is used during Hanukkah.


"The Hanukkah lamp is an eight-branched imitation of the original Tabernacle menorah that is used to celebrate the rededication of the Second Temple. The lamp has taken many forms through the ages, but its essential feature has been eight receptacles for oil or candles and a holder for the shammash (“servant”) light, which is used for kindling the other lights. During each night of Hanukkah, candles are inserted into the menorah from right to left but are lighted from left to right. The lamp is displayed in a highly visible location, and depictions of it are often found on public buildings, synagogues, and private homes."


How many candles for Hanukkah?

The menorah holds eight candles for Hanukkah.


How do you light Hanukkah candles?

One of the candles − referred to as the servant light or "shammash" − is used to light all eight candles. A candle is inserted into the menorah from right to left each night of Hanukkah. After being inserted into the menorah, candles are lit from left to right.


What is dreidel?

A game using a four-sided top − a dreidel − that has a Hebrew letter painted on each side. The four sides can display Chai or Hey, Gimel, Nun and Shin.

Players attempt to collect the most "gelt" − chocolate wrapped in gold tin foil made to look like coins − from a poker-style pot. Each face of the dreidel instructs a player to add gelt to the pot or take it from the pot. The game ends when one player has collected all of the gelt and is declared the winner.

Learn More Here

What are latkes?

Latkes are potato pancakes.

Why are latkes eaten by Jews during Hanukkah?

The oil of the menorah remained aflame for eight days despite only being enough for a single day after the Second Temple of Jerusalem had been ransacked. The oil used to fry the latkes symbolizes that very miracle of Hanukkah.


A special Thank You to Marlene for sharing your culture and tradition with VMRC. 



Happy Holidays & Chag Hanukkah Sameach!

North Valley Hills Update

   Dena Hernandez, Regional Manager (209) 473-6930

Who's ready for summer again already? We're thrilled to announce the dates of camp 2024! If you are interested in attending or want to learn more before deciding, please follow the link below to leave your information. We will be providing updates on important dates and information to those that complete the form.

We can't wait to see you there!

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