Monthly Newsletter  Winter, 2023 

What's New?

News and Updates for the PCTI Community

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In this Edition:

  • Special Education Updates
  • Programs and Resources
  • FCSN events & Conferences
  • Get Involved!

What's New is a quarterly newsletter for Federation-trained parents and parent consultants. In each edition, we will provide you with special education updates, resources, and upcoming events to support you in advocating for your students

Special Education Updates

Selected updates in special education policy and guidance. To view more, visit DESE's Special Education Webpage or Join DESE's Newsletters 

An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health

Signed by Governor Baker in August, this law includes several K-12 education-related provisions. These provisions require districts to employ alternatives prior to suspension and expulsion and expand their emergency management plans to encompass behavioral health. This law also creates a statewide program to assist districts in implementing behavioral health services and supports and creates an Office of Behavioral Health Promotion charged with convening a student advisory committee on mental health.

Learn more

Office of Civil Rights Fact Sheet on Diversity & Inclusion Activities Under Title VI

This fact sheet reinforces the fact that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training and similar activities in schools are consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In particular, this fact sheet demonstrates that Title VI does not prohibit activities such as DEI training, instruction or training on the impact of racism or systemic racism, cultural competency training, efforts to assess school climate, student programs focused on antiharassment or antibullying, investigations and reports on racial disparities in schools, or specific words in school policy, such as equity, discrimination, inclusion, diversity, systemic racism, or similar terms.

Learn more

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Blog: Discipline and Behavior Series

Valerie C. Williams, director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), has started a blog series that will explore topics related to the Discipline and Behavior Guidance Package released this summer. This blog discusses topics such as exclusionary discipline, informal removals, discipline disparities, and more.

Read the Blog.

Programs and Resources

New Behavioral and Mental Health Initiatives in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has a new Behavioral Health Helpline (BHHL), which is a 24/7 free clinical hotline staffed by trained behavioral health providers who offer clinical assessment, treatment, referrals, and crisis triage services. In addition, there are new Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs) in 25 communities across the commonwealth that take both appointments and walk-ins: "The statewide network of CBHCs serves as an entryway to timely, high-quality, and accessible mental health and addiction treatment for Massachusetts residents".

Learn more about the Behavioral Health Helpline.

Learn more about the Community Behavioral Health Centers

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program

Do you or someone you know want to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities and their families? Apply today for the LEND Fellowship at the Shriver Center/UMass Chan Medical School. Our graduates are leaders, at the table and part of key conversations and solutions to future services, supports, and practices.

The LEND Program prepares professionals, persons with disabilities, and family members to influence policy and clinical practice on behalf of children with developmental disabilities and their families.

More information about the program and application materials.

MassHealth Redetermination

MassHealth members will soon need to renew their health coverage to ensure they still qualify for their current benefits. Make sure that MassHealth has your most up to date address, phone number, and email so you don't miss important information and notices for MassHealth.

Learn more about MassHealth Redetermination


SEL4US and the Urban Assembly invite schools and communities around the globe to celebrate the importance of social emotional learning (SEL) on the fourth annual International SEL Day on Friday, March 10, 2023. The theme this year is Uplifting Hearts, Connecting Minds. 

Learn more about SEL Day

FCSN Visions of Community Conference

The Visions of Community Conference is just 3 days away and we are so excited about all of the great workshops and community building opportunities that are part of this conference. Below is some of what you can look forward to this week and on conference day, Saturday, March 4th. Click the image above to register!

TONIGHT (Wednesday, March 1st): Addressing Stigma

We will discuss disability stigma and factors that may influence access and willingness of families to engage in services.

Thursday, March 2nd, 5pm-6:30pm: Meet the Commissioners

Meet the State Commissioners during our Pre-conference week.  

Friday, March 3rd, 6pm-7pm: Fireside Chat with Judith Heumann

You don't want to miss this! Join our very own Pam Nourse for a very special Fireside Chat with the lifelong advocate of the rights of disabled people, Judy Heumann.

Saturday, March 4th, 8:45am-4:30pm

Keynote Panel: Celebrating 50 Years of Special Education

Join us to hear from Bob Crabtree, Oanh Bui, Kamisha Heriveaux, Bill Hendersen, and Roxi Harvey, who will discuss the Impacts of Fifty Years of Special Education. Beth Bostic will facilitate this event.

Workshops will be offered throughout the day, presented by parents, family members professionals. Topics include: special education, healthcare, mental health, postsecondary transition, early childhood, advocacy, and more! We offer workshops in Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Register Now

Share your Story!

Help FCSN celebrate parent and family leaders!

We are looking for stories from leaders that we can share publicly, and also ones that Federation staff can learn from. One of our goals at the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) is to support caregivers, parents, and family members so they have the information and tools they need to step into the role of parent leader. Who better than you to tell them how rewarding it can be?

Complete the Survey

Get Involved!

Advocate Survey

The Federation would love to hear from you! We are in the process of updating our Parent Advocate database. If you haven't already done so, please take a few moments to complete the following survey regarding your participation in our PCTI programs. Thank you!

Complete the Survey!

Become an Special Education Surrogate Parent

Special Education Surrogate Parents make educational decisions for students in Massachusetts whose parents are unknown or unavailable. They meet with their assigned student or observe them in the classroom, receive all progress reports and report cards and attend IEP meetings as an acting surrogate parent.

Learn More!

Volunteer or Mentor with the FCSN Information Center

Volunteering and mentoring provides you with opportunities connect with other volunteers and professionals, learn how to respond to a diversity of inquiries, and maintain your relationship with the Federation, while helping parents learn about their special education rights.

Contact [email protected] for more information!

Join the PCTI Facebook Group

If you haven't already, join our Facebook Group for PCTI grads. This is a forum where people can ask questions, exchange ideas and learn in a positive environment.

Join now!

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