Monthly Newsletter  Spring, 2023 

What's New?

News and Updates for the PCTI Community

five colorful hearts - federation for children with special needs logo

In this Edition:

  • Special Education Updates
  • Programs and Resources
  • Upcoming FCSN Events
  • Job Opportunities
  • 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 

The New Massachusetts IEP form

DESE released the long awaited IEP form that Massachusetts district will begin using between Fall 2023 and Fall 2024. The new form includes specific sections for areas such as transition planning, alternative communication needs, autism specific questions, needs and services of English Learners and more. Take a look at the form and bring your questions to our June Networking Series.

View the Form

Office for Civil Rights Annual Report

In Fiscal Year 2022, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recieved the highest volume of complaints in their history with fewer investigative staff than they had in years prior. Take a look at OCR's Annual Report to learn about the types and numbers of complaints they received. Discrimination claims based on disability under Section 504 and the ADA begins on page 26.

Read the Report

Memo on Reducing or Eliminating the Use of Time-out Room

Though this memo refers to the 2021-22 school year, DESE resent this guidance to advise schools and districts to continue efforts to reduce or eliminate timeout rooms. This memo urges schools to implement strategies that support social-emotional well being, maximize the time students spend learning with their peers, and implement safeguards in limited instances that time-put rooms are used for behaivoral supports.

Read the memo

Perez v. Sturgis Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court recently ruled unanimously for deaf student Miguel Luna Perez who was seeking money damages against his Michigan school district who failed to provide him sign language instructions and inflated his grades so that his parents believed he was on track to graduate. The justices ruled that IDEA's exhaustion requirement does not prevent students from separately bringing action to the court under the ADA.

Learn more

Capitol building in Washington DC

Dueling Parent Right's Proposals in Congress

Conversations about parent participation in schools and their influence on what does or does not get taught in the classroom have become hotly political, as reflected in two competing bills in congress over parent rights. However, the combative nature of this debate is counterintuitive to the much more nuanced conversations that need to occur in order to build positive relationships among families and schools. As this article states, "to foster better family-school relationships, actors at all levels have a role to play. Parents and families can put down their weapons and show up to the discussion with schools ready to engage constructively. But in turn, educators need to step up to do their part in fostering relational trust."

Read the Article

See the Brookings Strategy Finder to learn about effective family engagement strategies from across the globe.

Programs and Resources

Coordinated Pandemic- Related Transition Services

Did you turn 22 during Covid? If you:

  • are 22 or will turn 22 before September 1st
  • Are enrolled as a high school student until I turn 22 and will remain enrolled until I turn 22

Then you may be eligible for services from participating agencies, including, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative, Department of Developmental Services, and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

Fill out our Intake form for more information.

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

Mental Health Advocacy For Kids

Health Law Advocates' Mental Health Advocacy program has 15 staff attorneys based at Family Resource Centers Across the state who can help with improving special education services, coordinating community based mental health services, assist with health assistance coverage and more.

Learn More

Mindfulness Study for Parents of Children with Disabilities

This study aims to learn about how to improve the wellbeing of parents of children birth to ate 22 with disabilities or special healthcare needs. Participants will get a free one-year subscription to a mindfulness app and will be asked to take 3 surveys, participate in a focus group, and track their app usage each week.

Learn More

Family Ties Parent to Parent Program

Parent to Parent programs connect parents of children and adults with developmental or physical disabilities with experienced, trained parents who can support them on their journey. Parents are matched in one-to-one relationships and receive a unique form of support that cannot come from any other source.

Request a Match

Or Volunteer to be a Support Parent

Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder

Based on a few questions based on your legal needs, the Legal Resource Finder will give you contact information for legal aid offices, government agencies, and court programs that may be able to help you at free or low cost.

Use the Legal Resource Finder

Sibling Support Program, June 1st.

This free program focuses on building sibling resiliency, decreasing trauma and strengthening families of youth with Autism, Developmental Disabilities and/or Mental Health Issues.

Learn More

Untitled Design

Connecting Families - A Bill on Parental Notifications on Failed Health Screenings: Using Your Experience to Make a Change

Thursday, June 1, 5pm-6p

Aubrey Falk, EdD will speak about her experience as a parent working with legislatures to propose a bill on parental notification of failed health screenings. She will explain the importance of this bill and how families can support it. Aubrey will also share suggestions for how parents can use their experiences to advocate for policy changes to better the lives of children and families.

Register Now!

June Networking

Thursday, June 8, 12pm-1pm

For our April Networking Series, we started looking at the new IEP Form that school districts will begin using between Fall 2023 and Fall 2024. We will continue this discussion for our June Networking, so bring your questions and feedback for how we can train families on this new form.

Register Now!

Job Opportunities

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!

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!

Massachusetts Statewide Family Engagement Center Survey

Are you the parent or guardian of a child currently enrolled in a MA school? The Massachusetts Statewide Family Engagement Center is conducting a survey to learn more about the relationships that schools and families have with one another. Scan the QR Code or go to to take the survey. #MASFEC #Survey #Family

Complete the Survey!

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