Region 4 Parent Technical Assistance Center
Newsletter Issue 24September 2014
In This Issue
Coaching Parent Leaders
R4 Conference 2015
OSEP Grads 360
Project Management
Reflecting on Cultural Competency
Leading by Convening
Internal Controls
BSCP Center
Important Dates
R4 logo
Quick Links

This Quarter in Region 4
Welcome to the September Issue of the Region 4 PTAC Newsletter! 
Each quarter's newsletter will focus on a particular theme, pulled directly from OSEP's 14 priority areas. This edition will focus on  SCHOOL REFORM, (this includes evidence-based education practices,  outreach, data, and family-centered services. This edition also contains resources related to  technology and nonprofit management. A review of OSEP's 14 Priority Areas:

  • Evidence-based education practices that improve early learning
  • Evidence-based education practices that improve school-aged outcomes
  • Evidence-based education practices that improve post-secondary outcomes
  • College- and career-ready standards
  • College- and career-ready assessments
  • School reform efforts to improve student achievement and increase graduation rates
  • The use of data to inform instruction
  • The use of data to advance school reform efforts
  • Best practices in outreach
  • Best practices in family-centered services
  • Best practices in self-advocacy skill building
  • Best practices in nonprofit management
  • Best practices in the use of technology in service provision
  • Best practices in the use of technology in nonprofit management

Coaching Works for Sports Teams and Corporate America - Can it work for Parent Leadership Development Too?


by Courtney Salzer


A friend of mine, who also happens to be a very savvy businesswoman, and I recently had dinner together to celebrate a big promotion that she received. She attributed her promotion to the leadership skills she had developed by working with a coach. It got me thinking about how we as parent centers go about trying to develop leadership skills in parents. Are we doing all we can to fully develop the leadership capacity in the families we serve? The next day I wondered to some of my colleagues about whether they thought we should investigate using coaching as part of our parent and youth leadership activities. The responses I received were intriguing because most felt that we were already doing coaching at our parent center. I also noticed that many people (myself included) used the words "coaching", "mentoring", "advising", and "providing technical assistance" pretty interchangeably.


And so began my hunt for some credible resources that would help me understand what "coaching" really means. The best resource I've found so far is a PowerPoint presentation by
Constant Hine and Robin Levy-Conti, entitled Coaching: How It Is Unique & Different - Exploring the Continuum of Professional Development Strategies. (There is a fabulous chart on Slide #3) My take away so far is this - I believe most parent centers are already doing a fabulous job of teaching and training parent leaders, helping them solve their problems (technical assistance) and helping them master important skills (mentoring). However, for most centers this is where our leadership development efforts cease. Coaching, involves taking things one level further. Coaching helps leaders self-reflect and prescribe their own leadership growth. Coaches can help develop leadership in others that will sustain long after the coach is gone. Isn't this what we want for the parent and youth leaders we work with?


Region 4 PTAC Conference  

June 23-25, 2015

Traverse City, Michigan!



Our 2015 conference will once again offer the opportunity to earn a mini certificate in Nonprofit Management, through our collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The on-site portion of this programming will take place on Tuesday, June 23. The full conference will begin on Wednesday, June 24th and conclude on Thursday, June 25th.

We will share more information in the coming months. In the meantime, here is some information on the Traverse City  area.





Developed by the Regional Resource Center Program, site includes SPP/APR resources, events calendar related to IDEA Part B & C State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Reports, and some OSEP materials. New to this site are State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) Tools for state teams to help with processing information decision-making, and sharing information publicly around the SSIP process.

New Center for Systemic Improvement (CSI)


On 9/24/14, OSEP announced that the grant for the new national CSI was awarded to a consortium led by West ED (including AIR, NASDSE, CCSSO, SRI Intl, & the PTACs). The CSI will be providing support to states as they work to improve results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. The Center will focus on universal, targeted and intensive TA support to SEAs and LAs related to developing and implementing their SSIPs, scaling-up effective strategies, stakeholder engagement, resource mapping, use of evidence based practices, etc.  The center replaces the Regional Resource Center Program, including the North Central Regional Resource Center that supported states in Region 4.

GAO Report on Dispute Resolution

New GAO report (GAO-14-390) released 9/24/14, examines the use of dispute resolution methods since 2004, including 1) dispute resolution trends, (2) stakeholders view on alternative methods, and (3) re relationship to DOE state performance measures. Report cites significant drop in due process hearings. GAO recommends that DOE improve measures for overseeing state's dispute resolution performance, including more transparent data on due process hearing decisions and comparable parental involvement data.


School Reform: Charter School Laws Due for a Tune-Up, Report Says


A report form Brown University's Annenberg Institute for School Reform (released 9/17/14) suggests that state charter school laws are overdue for tune-ups. Forty two states allow chartering and about 2.5 million students attend over 6,000 charter schools. Report recommendations include: 1) All students should have "equitable and adequate school facilities," 2) "districts and charter schools should collaborate to ensure facility arrangements do not disadvantage students," 3) Monitoring and oversight of charter schools are critical to protect the public interest," 4) authorizers "should be strong and fully state funded," 5) Online charter schools should be better regulated for quality, transparency, and the protection of student data," and 6) "Charter school discipline policy should be fair and transparent." Adapted from: Education Week Prothero, 9/17/14; School Reform report.

Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA)     


On 7/22/14 the WIOA was signed into law and will become effective on 7/1/15. Bookmark the OCTAE WIOA Reauthorization website of resources for information on the act and links to the resource websites of the Department of Labor and                                                  Vocational Rehabilitation.                                               

Got a Project You Need to Manage?

by Emilie Braunel

Large companies have been using project management software for years now to keep on top of deadlines, progress and responsibilities.  But, this type of software is also useful for managing smaller endeavors such as a large meeting you are coordinating, fundraising events, or a workgroup within your center.  If you are interested in learning more, here are some great quick articles to check out:


Top 15 Project Management Software in 2014 - Web Apps

10 Apps that Make Managing a Project Remotely a Breeze

There are a LOT of tools out there, including some apps.  If you are thinking using one of these, here is a 

  • Price
  • Number of users per account
  • Number of projects per account
  • Storage space
  • Integration with Dropbox or Google Drive (if you need it)
  • Tech support available
  • Tutorials or guides available to help you get started
  • Overall functionality - is it easy to work?!

Below is a list of some of the better programs that we've found (all below offer a free sign-up trial period or a free account option): is a program of the Goodwill Community Foundation that has helped millions of people to learn the essential skills they need to live and work in the 21st 
century. From Microsoft Office and email to reading, math, and more. This program offers more than 120 tutorials, including more than 1,100 lessons, videos, and interactive activities, completely free. All online classes are up-to-date and the most popular tutorials include MS Excel/Word/Access/PowerPoint, Computer Basics, Windows 7 & 8, Microsoft Outlook, Internet 101, iPad Basics and Photoshop. The sister site,, offers technology, reading, math, and life skills in Spanish; specifically design for Latino audience. The program was honored as a 2014 Top-Rated Award by Great Nonprofits.

GCFLearnFree is a 100% free learning source used by outnumber of notable organizations to improve not only consumers' but also employee's software proficiency. View their website to see the most popular online lessons and topics (from basic to advance).

Reflecting on your Current Level of Cultural Competency

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has developed a number of self-assessments that can be utilized for any service provider to enhance their agency's awareness of providing services to culturally/linguistically diverse (CLD) populations. The checklists could help you determine how your Parent Center views consumers with CLD and also how cultural linguistic factors influence your programs. Personnel working with parents can also assess their current level of cultural competence and identify areas in which their agency may need some further development. 

The three questionnaires include: personal reflection, policies and procedures, and service delivery. There are no answer keys and no "right" answers. Parent Centers can use ASHA's checklists to reflect on their current levels of cultural competency and improving the way they deliver their programs.



Leading by Convening: 
A Blueprint for Effective  Engagement

For 15 years the IDEA partnership, an affiliation of national organizations and family groups, has invited decision makers, practitioners and consumers to learn with each other and create effective change in practice. Their "blueprint for authentic engagement" offers a map to help the reader understand and practice the skill of "convening," moving from shallow collaboration to authentic engagement. (September 2014 Education Reform Hub) A great tool for use in System Change.

Internal Controls - Protect your Organization!

By Janine Lange


In my twenty plus years of working in accounting, I have come across several employee dishonesty experiences and a few disorganized record keeping set ups. Both scenarios created financial losses for the organizations involved.

You have insurance, you're good - well, that is one step. Insure your company, your officers, your assets, but you also need to have internal control policies in place that protect your organization.

First of all, your internal controls need to be written down and known and followed by everyone. Your leaders need to lead by example when it comes to controls.  They need to support and follow what has been agreed to, thus setting the tone for how the organization will operate.  Sure you trust your employees, you wouldn't have hired them.  It is not a matter of trust though, it's protection.  You can trust yourself too.  However, you need to create a transparency so that no one person is in total control of things and anyone can see how the flow of the operations goes.

Write down each process and who will do what and stick to that.  Make sure there is a system of checks and balances in place.  One person should not invoice customers, open the checks in the mail, record the deposit, deliver it to the bank, reconcile the bank statement and create the financial statements.  Even with small organizations, you can create a plan which can limit fraud potential.  Some ideas for splitting up a link are having one person open the mail, having another sign off on checks, setting up where a board member reviews a bank statement and follows up with a few questions monthly.  Maybe you can have two check signers or a different invoice approval person who is not a check signer and all checks need to have an approved invoice before going out the door.  Segregation of duties is essential.  Make sure all parties understand their roles.  They should know why they are reviewing or approving at this point in the process.  They should know what they are looking for and not be afraid to ask questions.

Furthermore, lock up your cash, number sequenced checks, gift cards, computers and supplies. Password protect wherever possible.  Policies should be in place for who can do ordering and receiving of goods and who has access to these things of value.

A big part of feeling secure in your plan is to have regular financial statements created and reviewed.  If there are variances to budget line items, do you understand why?  Dig further until you have a comfort level.  If an explanation doesn't sit right for you, go with your gut.  Maybe there is an error in record keeping if not an employee dishonesty event.  You need to have the right data recorded to capture what happened.  This is the only way to make accurate decisions for the future of your organization.  Having a tight internal control plan in place is key.  The plan needs to be known and followed all of the time.  Also, your written controls needs to be reviewed regularly to be updated as people switch to new roles and processes evolve and change.  Bring in board members and non-financial staff members into the process.  Share the document with your auditor at audit time.  The auditor may check with staff members to confirm parts within the plan.  If staff show evidence of compliance with the plan, more favorable audit results can follow. 

f you need assistance in developing a plan or in ideas to segregate duties or have ideas for future articles, please contact: Janine Lange, Region 4 PTAC Financial Consultant,

The new Building State Capacity and Productivity Center (BSCP Center) focuses work on helping all 50 state education agencies as they adapt to constrained resources, increased demands for greater productivity, while meeting the challenge of improving student performance. The BSCP Center provides information, tools, training, a website, implementation support for continuous improvement to reach system wide improvement.

National Parent Center Data Collection Report Due

Region 4 institute on Evaluation Data - Milwaukee, WI
Region 4 Institute for Spanish-speaking Staff, Milwaukee, WI


OSEP State Advisory Panel/Interagency Coordinating Council Webinar, 2-3 pm CDT



OSEP Quarterly Call, 2-3 pm, CDT

Region 4 Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
serving parent centers in: 
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin
R4 logo       
The contents of this e-newsletter were developed under a grant from the US Department of Education,  #H328R130010. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department 
of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer - David Emenheiser