Exceptional Times
November 2015

  Exceptional Times is a monthly electronic newsletter produced by
 Families Helping Families of Jefferson and 
Louisiana Parent Training & Information Center
a project of FHF of Jefferson.
IDEA Celebrates 
40 Years
of Educating Children with Disabilities

By:  Mary Jacob

Imagine a time in the United States when all children weren't welcomed and encouraged to attend school.  Just 40 short years ago, students with disabilities weren't afforded the same opportunity as their non-disabled peers to attend a public school, free of charge.  If the public school did agree to allow your child to attend classes, they were often provided with a substandard education with no outcomes for living an independent life as an adult.  I believe the beginning of acknowledging the wrongdoing of an unequal education started with another civil rights movement, Brown v. Board of Education.  In 1954, The Supreme Court found that African-American children had the right to equal educational opportunities and that segregated schools have no place in the field of public education.  The court wrote, "Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities?  We believe that it does." 

Now I ask you to reread the above and replace "African-American" with Children with Disabilities. 

The Supreme Court further went on the say "To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely based on their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone. 

It wasn't until after the Brown vs. Board of Education, parents of children with disabilities started filing lawsuits against their local school districts for excluding and segregating children with disabilities.  This monumental civil rights suit laid the foundation for children with disabilities to have access to public education.

In 1965 Congress enacted the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to address the inequality of educational opportunities for all children.  A year later, Congress amended the Act to specifically address the education of children with disabilities.  Grant programs were established to help states in the "initiation, expansion, and improvement of programs and projects for the education of children with disabilities.  In 1970, Congress enacted the Education of the Handicapped Act (P.L. 91-230) in an effort to encourage states to develop educational programs for children with disabilities.  Neither of these programs included any specific mandates on the use of the funds provided by the grants; nor could either program be shown to have significantly improved outcomes for students with disabilities. 

In 1971, Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens (PARC) filed the first suit against a state to provide a free public education for children with mental retardation.  In the case of PARC vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the case was quickly settled before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, resulting in a consent decree in favor of PARC.   This decree laid the foundation of the right to an education for all children with disabilities.  It further established that each child must be offered an individualized education in their least restrictive environment.
Though PARC ended quickly in a consent decree, a subsequent case called Mills v. Board of Education soon reached the Supreme Court under the same principles on which PARC was brought, and Mills finally established the fundamental Constitutional right to education of all children with disabilities.

In 1975, the consent decree in PARC was codified on a national level as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Before the enactment of Public Law 94-142, the fate of many individuals with disabilities was likely to be dim. Too many individuals lived in state institutions for persons with mental retardation or mental illness. In 1967, for example, state institutions were homes for almost 200,000 persons with significant disabilities. Many of these restrictive settings provided only minimal food, clothing, and shelter. Too often, persons with disabilities, were merely accommodated rather than assessed, educated, and rehabilitated. 

On Nov. 29, 1975, then-President Gerald Ford signed into law the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142).  In adopting this landmark civil rights measure, Congress opened public school doors for millions of children with disabilities and established a process by which State and local education agencies may be held accountable for providing education services for all children with a disability.  The law went a step further by not only ensuring that children with disabilities had access to an education, but they also now have due process rights under the law referred to as procedural safeguards.

In 1990 Congress amended the above law and changed the name to make it people first to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The law was reauthorized for the final time in 1994 and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.

In the last 40 years, we have advanced our expectations for all students, including students with disabilities. Classrooms have become more inclusive and the future of children with disabilities brighter. Significant progress has been made toward protecting the rights of, meeting the individual needs of, and improving educational results for infants, toddlers, children, and youths with disabilities.

While tremendous progress has been made over the past 40 years, parents still continue to find challenges in getting schools to provide a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE), one of the fundamental elements of IDEA. The law from the beginning, 40 years ago was never intended to create special classes, schools or settings for children with disabilities.  The law created federal funding to help states offset the cost of educating children with disabilities with typical peers.  The law should complement the already existing ESEA, by providing resources and support to ensure children with disabilities have accesses to the general curriculum in their least restrictive environment.  Instead funding is often used to create top heavy special education administrations and segregated classes with special teachers, the exact thing that Brown vs. The Board of Education fought so hard to stop. 

We've come so far and yet, we still have so far to go.  After 40 years of  IDEA, it's time for States and local education agencies to truly follow the law - how it was intended to be implemented. 

Understand IDEA and your rights by participating in any of our trainings on IDEA or calling our office. 

How has IDEA made a difference to you?  What do inclusion, equity, and opportunity look like for you?  The U.S. Department of Education want to hear from children and youth with disabilities, teachers, parents, researchers, and other IDEA stakeholders about the impact this legislation has had. Please share your art, photographs, and writing with them for possible use during the upcoming 40th Anniversary events.

You may submit your documents and personal stories up to November 8th.  Please click here to share

Check out these other great articles we've provided for you this month:

Want to contribute to Family Ties?  This section is dedicated to parents or other family members that want to contribute family friendly articles for others. These articles should be directly related to your experience as a parent, sibling, or other family member of an individual with a disability.  To submit an article for consideration, please send it to Liz Dumas at [email protected]  All articles will be reformatted.  Pictures in the format of jpeg are highly encouraged. 
Learning Opportunities by FHF
Educating and Training
- November Workshops -

The IEP is About Me! The BIG Picture:  Before diving into the specifics of what must be included in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), it's important to consider the "Big Picture" of the IEP. Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2015    Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Jefferson Parish East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Dr., Metairie, La     Click here to view flyer!

To register, call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736.   Click here to register online 

Access to Social Security Disability Benefits for Children (Presented in Spanish): This presentation is for parents, guardians and representatives of children with disabilities who are under 18 years of age.  The information will help you decide if your child, or a child you know, might be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)  benefits. 
Date:  Friday, November 20, 2015    Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location:  Jefferson Parish East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Dr., Metairie, La       Click here to view flyer in Spanish!    Click here to view flyer in English!

To register, call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-776-7736.   Click here to register online

- November Webinars -

Diagnosis vs. Disability Category: Defining Eligibility - Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Many parents are surprised to find that the "disability category" qualifying their child for special education and related services is different from their "medical diagnosis". Participants will gain an understanding of the differences as well as, the eligibility categories under IDEA for special education. 

Managing Students with Seizures:  Friday, November 6, 2015, 10:00 am - 11:00 am - This webinar is for school nurses and school personnel: This presentation is designed to make you aware of the information and resources available to help educational professionals successfully manage students with seizures.  Topics include recognizing seizures, first aid measures, best practices for social and academic support, and more.

My child has disabilities and is in special education. Can he be suspended/expelled? Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm - We will provide you with federal and state guidance on what the public schools are obligated to do. Participants will gain an understanding of the discipline procedures for students identified under IDEA and for those whom the district is deemed to have knowledge of a disability.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) The Buckley Amendment - Parents' and Students' Rights to School Record:  Thursday, November 12, 2015, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm  -Parents of students under 18 years of age and all students over 18 years of age attending post-secondary schools will gain knowledge of their right to see, correct and control access to student records relating to their child which are collected, maintained or used by the board of education.

My child has disabilities and is in special education. Can he be suspended/expelled? Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm - We will provide you with federal and state guidance on what the public schools are obligated to do. Participants will gain an understanding of the discipline procedures for students identified under IDEA and for those whom the district is deemed to have knowledge of a disability.

Supporting Homeless Students with Disabilities: Implementing IDEA: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 10:00 am - 11:00 am - There are two federal laws that address the needs of homeless children and youth with disabilities; The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Participants gain an understanding of the two federal laws that address the needs of homeless children and youth with disabilities

Diagnosis vs. Disability Category: Defining Eligibility: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm - Many parents are surprised to find that the "disability category" qualifying their child for special education and related services is different from their "medical diagnosis". Participants will gain an understanding of the differences as well as, the eligibility categories under IDEA for special education.

Family Legal Center:  Thursday, November 19, 2015, 10:30 am - 11:30 am - We will provide you with an overview of Medical Legal Partnerships in general, the services offered by the Family Legal Center, and how this Medical Legal Partnership can assist both doctors and patients improve outcomes.
 View our full calendar of events here.

Learning Opportunities Provided by Others
Education and Training

FHF thinks it is important for individuals to be armed with enough information to either assist or make decisions around disability issues that impact your life or that of a family member.  Therefore, we are happy to share the following training opportunities others are doing around the state.  Please note we do not handle registration for these opportunities.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 10:00 am - 12 noon - Open Hands, Open Access (OHOA) Deaf-Blind Intervener Learning Modules: The OHOA modules are a national resource designed to increase awareness, knowledge, and skills related to intervention for students who are deaf/blind.  Each module includes a variety of videos, photographs, slide presentations, and learning activities to help you understand the impact of combined vision and hearing loss on learning, to become aware of best practice strategies for working with these children, and to introduce the role of an intervener in educational settings.   Click here for Registration Information

Thursday, November 19, 2015 8:45 am - 4:15 pm - 2015 Advocacy Leadership Conference: Creating a Meaningful Life - Marriott Hotel, 5500 Hilton Ave., Baton Rouge, LA - Hosted by La. Developmental Disabilities Council.  Click here for more information

LASARD Project Upcoming Online WorkgroupsEach workgroup will be held live online via Adobe Connect from 2:30 to 3:30 on the designated date.  Registration for the workgroups may be found on the LASARD website under Upcoming Training and Events - 
November 3, 2015 - Communication is Behavior!   If you weren't able to communicate easily, how would you let others know what you want, like, or want to stop?  Students with ASD and related disabilities may have problematic behaviors that result from communication difficulties.  This workgroup will review strategies to support communication to decrease problematic behavior, including Functional Communication Training.  This intermediate level workgroup assumes understanding of FBAs and BIPs.
November 17, 2015 - Not a Lazy Kid: Executive Functioning in Students with ASD:  
Executive functions are the mental skills that help the brain organize and act on information.  They help us to plan, prioritize, pay attention, organize, remember,  and inhibit inappropriate responses. They impact our ability to get started on a task and follow the steps to completion.  For students with executive functioning issues, any task requiring these skills will be difficult.  Participants in this basic level workgroup will learn how executive function issues impact learning and what they may look like in the classroom. Strategies to help your students get organized, work more independently, and complete their assignments will also be provided.
December 1, 2015 - Strengthening the Core: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Vocabulary Selection: You have a student who will benefit from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) supports...now what? This basic to intermediate level workgroup will explore methods for vocabulary selection. We will discuss the importance of the type of words (core and fringe vocabulary) that need to be included on a communication system.  Also, we will briefly share strategies on implementation of these communication systems.

Learning Links
Education and Training

If you've ever done an internet search on a topic, you know first-hand how difficult it is to sort through the thousands of links that come up with the search. Below is a list of some of our favorite links for the month that others have shared with us. We hope you find them as informative as we did.

Educational Opportunities for a Career in Cybersecurity - Formal education opportunities for students are critical to help build and shape America's future cybersecurity workforce. This applies to students at all levels including K-12, two-year community colleges, undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students. 

Hitting the Open Road After High School: How to Choose Your Own Adventure to Success! When considering the options available to youth after high school, youth may feel overwhelmed. There are many career paths and educational or training programs available. This publication is intended to help youth think about their options and plan ahead.

Find tips and resources to help your child pursue a satisfying career - Parents play an especially important role in assisting youth with disabilities to build successful, satisfying careers. Viewed together, parents and their children essentially form a team. The youth is the player in the game and the parent is the coach.

Teaching young children self-control skills: Information for parents and educators. This 3-page article from the National Association of School Psychologists describes concrete ways and steps that parents (and educators) can use to teach young children the skills of self-control.

Practical Ways for People with Disabilities to Become Self-Advocates - Self-advocacy can help empower people with disabilities to have their needs met, ask for what they want, and establish good relationships with others and most importantly make sure their voice is heard.

New Toolkits Ease the Transition from Pediatric to Adult Care - The new Transitions of Care initiative spearheaded by the Endocrine Society...Type 1 Diabetes and childhood cancers Toolkit to help young adults who have hormone conditions navigate the shift from a pediatric to an adult health care team. The Society partnered with several health care organizations on the initiative, which offers resources for young adults, their parents and health care providers. 

What does Health Have to do with Transition? Everything! This Parent Brief provides information on the benefits of and strategies for including health in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process.

Advocacy Center Louisiana: Understanding the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act An ABLE account is a tax-free account that can be used to save for disability-related expenses for a person who became blind or significantly disabled before age 26.

LiveBinders - Parents often look for fun and engaging ways to fully participate in their child's educational programming. Click here for a link to a plethora of resources for families and educators.

OSEP Provides Guidance on Parent's Rights to an Independent Educational Evaluation - The topic of independent educational evaluations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has, now more than ever, become one of the most discussed and debated topics in special education. The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), has provided guidance on a parent's right to receive an independent educational evaluation (IEE), most recently earlier this year in Letter to Baus.

Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade - Students who read with understanding at an early age gain access to a broader range of texts, knowledge, and educational opportunities, making early reading comprehension instruction particularly critical. This guide recommends five specific steps that teachers, reading coaches, and principals can take to successfully improve reading comprehension for young readers. 

Bi-Lingual Education Advocate Needed

Families Helping Families of Jefferson is searching for an education advocate that is fluent in reading and speaking Spanish and English to support parents of children with disabilities and youth with disabilities.  This is a full time 40 hr a week position. Paid holidays, vacation and sick leave.  
To apply, send your resume to Laura S. Nata at [email protected]

Legislative Advocate wanted for Jefferson Parish

Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council and Families Helping Families of Jefferson is looking for a dynamic, outgoing person that knows how to build relationships and have a passion for people with disabilities. 

This is not your every day job - this is a passion to use your talent to bring legislators into the world of disabilities and help them understand why disability services need to be funded.  

Louisiana Citizens for Action Now (LaCAN) is a statewide grassroots network of individuals, families and advocates who have worked together since 1988 advocating for a service system that supports individuals with disabilities to live in their own homes rather than having to be segregated from their communities in a facility to receive support.  Specifically, they have advocated for implementation of Louisiana's Community and Family Support System Plan.

The Jefferson Parish LaCAN Team Leader:
  • Serves Jefferson Parish and should be a resident of Jefferson Parish
  • Works 50 - 60 hours a month
  • Starting Pay is $10 - $12 hr.
The LaCAN Team Leader will: 
  • Develop the Grassroots Network - Leaders recruit new members.
  • Maintain the Grassroots Network - Leaders develop relationships with their members, keeping them informed, connected, encouraged, and engaged in advocacy activities.
  • Lead the Grassroots Network - Leaders develop relationships with their local Senators and Representatives and serve as a model for interaction with these policymakers.
  • Support the Grassroots Network - Leaders serve as a link between their members and the policymakers who represent them. 
Applicants should have:
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Be proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Have public speaking experience (Paid or Unpaid)
  • Reliable transportation
  • Ability to travel to Baton Rouge when necessary
  • Have an unwavering belief that people with disabilities shouldn't be segregated.
  • Priority will be given to an individual with a disability, a family member and current LaCAN members.
If you think you have what it takes, please send your resume to [email protected] This position is NOT a Families Helping Families of Jefferson position - but support, supervision and office space is provided by FHF of Jefferson. 

Thanks to All of our Superheroes against Bullying!

Click here to go to our NEW 5K and Fun Run Against Bullying Facebook page. Don't forget to like the page and share it to keep up to date with future Bullying Prevention events, next year's race and bullying prevention information. You will also find all the 2015 5K and Fun Run Against Bullying pictures. 

Extensive Lending Library

Families Helping Families has an extensive lending library. Books, dvds and more are here, free of charge for families and professionals to check out. You are welcome to come and browse our library during our office hours, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm.  If you cannot make it into our office, you can see a complete list of our inventory and any item can be mailed to you.  Just click here  to see a complete list of items in our lending library.

Before you buy it - check to see if we have it!

Changing Lives. Every Day.
Success Story of the month.
Every day we hear wonderful things about the work we do for individuals in the community. One of the things that keep us going daily are the success stories we hear.

Navigating the System is No Easy TaskClick here to read how FHF helped a parent of a child newly diagnosed with Autism get needed resources and information. 

Developmental Disabilities Services Directory
















The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities provides supports and services through a variety of locations throughout the state to support the dignity, quality of life and security in the everyday lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families, acting as the Single Point of Entry.


OCDD Central Office

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities
628 North 4th Street
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802


PO Box 3117, Bin #21
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-3117


Phone: 1.225.342.0095
Toll-Free: 1.866.783.5553
Fax: 1.225.342.8823

Waiver Registry Dates

As of October 27, 2015 the following dates have been reached on the waiver registry, a.k.a the waiting list.  

New Opportunities Waiver (NOW) -  8/18/2004

Children's Choice Waiver -  6/20/2006

Supports Waiver - 12/31/2014

Not sure where you are on the registry?  Call 1.800.364.7828.

Invest in the future of FAMILIES HELPING FAMILIES of JEFFERSON.   

Become  a stakeholder by supporting ALL disabilities of ALL ages, by making a one time gift, or monthly contributions. You will be making a difference to large outcomes!

FHF is a 501 (c) 3 not for profit organization.  In addition to our grants and contracts we depend on the generosity of individuals like you.  All donations are tax deductible.  

In addition to cash donations, there are many other ways you can show your support. Click here to learn more about how you can help. With your support, we will have the strength and resources to help Louisiana residents improve their lives. 

State Employees Can Now 
Invest in FHF 
Through Payroll Deductions

Families Helping Families of Jefferson and Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center is a 2015 Louisiana State Combined Charitable Campaign (LA SCCC) Charitable Organization. 

Our LA SCCC code to designate donations to FHF is 1020.  

Federal Employees Can Now 
Invest in FHF 
Through Payroll Deductions

Families Helping Families of Jefferson has been approved for inclusion in the 2015 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Any federal employee anywhere in the United States and overseas can designate their tax deductible donation to Families Helping Families of Jefferson.  

Our CFC code to designate donations to FHF is 85990
A Little Lagniappe:
A little of this and a little of that - more stuff that might interest you. 

Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority - Regional Advisory Committee for Development Disabilities currently has openings for self advocates or parents of individuals with developmental disabilities.  If you are interested in becoming a member of the JPHSA RAC, please contact Mary Jacob at [email protected]


Make a Plan/Build a Kit/Know the Facts/Get Involved - Disasters affect everyone. It takes everyone - youth, parents, and community member - to help prepare. 


Every Student, Every Day: A National Initiative to Address and Eliminate Chronic AbsenteeismThe U. S. Department of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Justice are launching Every Student, Every Day to support coordinated community action that addresses the underlying causes of chronic absenteeism 


SmoothMovesYHT.org - Youth Health Transition Teen Health and Transition INFO Website - Age 14 - 17 SmoothMovesYHT.org can help you plan for the future YOU want! Click here for more information


Be Red Cross Ready - Fire Prevention & Safety Checklist in English and Spanish - The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards.  Click for more information


Save the Date!  Saturday, November 7, 2015 - Autism Society Conference 2015 "Lassoing for Autism" - McNeese State University, Lake Charles, La. Keynote: Dennis Debbaudt   Click here for more details 


Virtual Career Fair for People with Disabilities - November 10, 2015 - Are you a person with a disability, looking for a career opportunity or internship? This Virtual Career Fair is FREE for students and alumni with disabilities to attend.  Click here to learn more



Our Team

Click here for a list of Staff or Board Members

Families Helping Families of Jefferson is your one stop shop for disability information. We are the only family resource center for individuals with all disabilities, all ages and their families in Jefferson Parish. We offer services across the lifespan.


Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center (LaPTIC) is a program of Families Helping Families of Jefferson and a grant from the US Department of Education; Office of Special Education (OSEP) as Louisiana's official and only statewide federally funded Parent Training and Information Center. 


Two Groups You Want to JOIN!

LaCAN is a statewide grassroots network of individuals, families and advocates who have worked together since 1988 advocating for a service system that supports individuals with disabilities to live in their own homes rather than having to be segregated from their communities in a facility to receive support.  Specifically, they have advocated for implementation of Louisiana's Community and Family Support System Plan.  To join or learn more about LaCAN,      

LaTEACH (Louisiana Together Educating ALL Children) is a statewide grassroots advocacy network created for the purpose of effecting systems change.  LaTEACH promotes appropriate, inclusive education for all students. LaTEACH works to make parents, educators, the general public, and state leadership informed and supportive of research-based and effective practices used appropriately for each student.  To join or learn more about LaTEACH,    

FHF of Jefferson
201 Evans Road, Bldg. 1, #100
Harahan, LA  70123
800.766.7736 (toll free)

The Mission of Families Helping Families is to educate and connect children and adults with disabilities and their families to resources, services & supports to attend school, work and thrive in their communities.