December 2020
Expanding & Advocating to Protect
Your Disability Rights
A Note from Joanna, State Director of The Arc Rhode Island:

While the pandemic presented us with many challenges, it also gave us some opportunities to think about new ways we could assist our community. Our Circles of Connections began with the goal of ending the isolation for individuals and family members. A"soft launch" of this new program began in September and we are happy to report that it has been a huge success! It is a free membership-based online program where "circle" members make new connections, find support, share resources, tips, and develop friendships with each other. To find out how to join Circles of Connections you can see below and on our website:
As the former Founder and Director of Rhode Island Advocacy for Children, I am so pleased that our educational advocacy services for families of younger children who attend school will continue under The Arc Rhode Island. The Arc Rhode Island can assist families with finding resources and guidance for individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and their family members throughout their lifetimes. We have worked tirelessly with the RI Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), The Rhode Island Disabilities Council, and many other organizations to reimagine how state services and supports are delivered to you or your loved one.
On behalf of all of us at The Arc Rhode Island, we wish you and your family a happy holiday season filled with love, cheer, and fond memories. We hope you take time in these final weeks of December to reflect on what has been a deeply challenging year, and relax and recharge to begin 2021 strong.
Stay well and stay safe,
The Arc Rhode Island Partners with Rhode Island Advocacy for Children to Provide Better Outcomes for Students with Disabilities
We are pleased to announce a historic merger with Rhode Island Advocacy for Children, a move which will greatly expand much-needed education advocacy support services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families across the state. The merger comes at a critical time for Rhode Islanders with disabilities who are facing unprecedented challenges with getting special education services during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Rhode Island is a state in educational crisis, and now with ever increasing pressures during this pandemic, we need trained, certified Educational Advocates to help parents navigate through the complex world of special education," said Joanna Scocchi, State director of The Arc Rhode Island.

"With this merger, The Arc Rhode Island can offer special education advocacy support to families so that their children will learn, grow, and have equal education opportunities to succeed in the future."
If you would like to reach out to Mary Lou directly, click here to send an email or call 401-363-9899.
As part of the merger, The Arc of Rhode Island is welcoming Mary Lou Kennedy Rossi to the team as a Senior Program Manager for Educational Advocacy services. Rossi was an Educational Advocate for Rhode Island Advocacy for Children for 6 years. After a thirty-year career in education, where she was an elementary school principal, a general and special educator. She is also a professor at University of Rhode Island's College of Education.
Check out this 5-star review from one of our awesome clients!
"The educational advocates at the Arc of Rhode Island-Rhode Island Advocacy for Children were extremely helpful thus far in navigating the IEP process for my daughter. They assisted me in creating a very comprehensive and organized IEP binder. They coached me on crafting emails and responses that communicated my frustration, disappointment and disgust with the school’s lack of participation and unwillingness to accommodate our daughter. Mary Lou’s presence on the virtual meeting to discuss the shortcomings of virtual learning completely changed the tone and response from the school. For the first time, the school took my issue seriously and treated me with respect. Her presence in the meeting clearly communicated that I am not backing down, nor going away, nor giving up on my daughter. I highly recommend them both and this organization!" - A family from Warwick

Our New Program

is Up & Running!

I have the best time of my life when I join the online circle meeting”
says member Michael Coyne

Now more than ever, people are looking for ways to connect and, like many of us, back in March, when the Pandemic started to become a reality, a group of advocates started to ask ourselves:

“What can we do to help?"

“What can we do to help people with disabilities
overcome impending isolation?”

"How can we assist our families in maintaining their social connections?"

Concerned for all of us stuck at home & with the limited opportunities for individuals and families to connect; The Arc of Rhode Island developed an online platform for people with shared interests and life experiences.

Our Program CIRCLES OF CONNECTIONS are Circles of 5-6 members focusing on an area of interest and led by trained trauma-informed Group Leaders and use a HIPPA compliant online platform. You can join as a member to participate in a circle that interests you or suggest a topic!

  • Grief Circle
  • Special Education Circle
  • Rainbow Circle for LGBTQ+
  • Chat Saturday
  • Land that Job
  • Book Club for Kids Circle
  • Building Healthy Relationships
  • Family Circles - for parents of children with disabilities
  • Teen Group

It’s easy to join as a member of CIRCLES OF CONNECTIONS.
Just go to

Please fill out our application and tell us what your interests and passions are.

Membership is FREE, and circles typically meet
once weekly for 1.5 hours.

If you're looking for:

  • New friends and an online circle of support
  • A way to learn new things
  • A listening ear, advice, or help navigating complicated systems
  • A way to make sure you are getting all the services and supports you or your family need
  • Advocacy skills to help you live the life you want

Circles can help you with:

  • Adult services
  • Eligibility
  • Transition services
  • Family dynamics
  • Emotional health
  • Special education eligibility and advocacy
  • Making friends and participating in the community together
  • And more!
For more info or to sign up click here.

Do Something Extraordinary For You & Your Child
Gain Knowledge On Special Education Basics

Our Advocacy Curriculum helps you understand the special education process,
so your student gets the best possible education.
Whether you're a parent, teacher, or non-attorney advocate,
our training will help you be a
stronger and more knowledgeable champion for students with disabilities.

Upon completion of the training, you will receive a certificate from The Arc of the United States.

Click here to sign up for training or for more info.
Use Code 36 for $5.00 off course.
New Location
We are excited to announce the opening of our new office at 1130 Ten Rod Road, Suite E-205, North Kingstown RI 02852

Click here for directions