Exceptional Times
January 2016

  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.
2016 - The Year of Change
Now is the time for YOU to speak up!

By:  Mary Jacob
If I had a dollar for every time I've heard someone say over the past 4 years, "Just wait until we have a new governor," I could retire rather wealthy.  Well, the day has arrived - January 11, 2016 is the day the large majority of Louisianans has been waiting to arrive.  Even if you didn't vote for John Bel Edwards, pretty much everyone was ready to bid farewell to Governor Bobby Jindal.   Our new governor will officially be inaugurated on January 11, 2016. 

Governor-elect Edwards has been busy filling key positions on his transition team and identifying future department leaders.  It is highly suspected one of his first official actions will immediately call a special session to address huge budget deficits.  He has already publicly stated that Louisiana will do a Medicaid expansion which will give an estimated 400,000+ residents of Louisiana access to Medicaid.  Since the creation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), many people still don't realize that individuals must have a minimum income to qualify for assistance to pay their health insurance premiums.  Currently anyone earning less than 133% of the poverty level doesn't qualify for any assistance.  The only way around this was to do a Medicaid expansion, which our current Governor was against.  This left our poorest citizens still without insurance.  Expanding Medicaid will be a win-win for Louisiana as more people will have access for affordable health care AND Louisiana will draw down over a billion dollars in federal funds.  The expansion will stimulate economy and some suspect could potentially balance our budget instantly. 

The time has officially come for Louisianans to speak up.  If you are a parent of a child with a disability, an individual with a disability or a professional that supports individuals with disabilities - you are well aware of the past 4 years of budget cuts to services provided to this vulnerable population.  All gubernatorial candidates were asked questions by several disability organizations.  Governor-elect Edwards stated in his answers to the Louisiana's People First questionnaire that:   
  • People with disabilities need and deserve our support as a community and as governor I will commit to ensuring that happens.  Whether it's protecting safe and affordable housing, or reasonable means of transportation, my administration will focus on ensuring that disability services are part of a holistic approach to governing in a way that focuses on people.
  • I am fully committed to expanding home and community based services to address the long waiting lists that are preventing Louisiana families from thriving.
The time has come to make sure all elected officials prioritize people with disabilities.  How can you do this?  
  • Join Louisiana Citizens for Action Now (LaCAN) by clicking here
  • Join Louisiana Together Educating All Children (LaTEACH) by clicking here
  • Educate yourself on the Louisiana DD Council Priorities by clicking here
  • Attend a local legislative round-table event by clicking here
  • Testify at a local legislative round-table event.
  • Visit your legislator and provide them with disability related facts about your family.
Don't be one of those people that sit back and wait for someone else to do it for you.  If you've advocated previously and felt your message wasn't heard - give it another chance. 
Remember, "Never Doubt That A Small Group of Thoughtful Committed Citizens Can Change The World:  Indeed It's The Only Thing That Ever Has."  - Margaret Mead.  

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

Learning Opportunities by FHF
Educating and Training
- January Workshops -

Self - Advocacy: Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm, East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, LA 70001: Come join us and learn the skills you need to become a Self-Advocate. It is never too early or to late to begin to learn self-advocacy skills.  Click here to view flyer!
To register, call:  504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736     Click here to register online

Understanding the Role of Your Support Coordinator - Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Avenue, Metairie, LA 70001: Support Coordination is a very important service to families of and individuals with developmental disabilities. If you or your family member are receiving, have an offer, or on the waiting list to receive the New Opportunities Waiver, Residental Options Waiver, Supports Waiver or Children's Choice Waiver this training is definitely something you should not miss. Professionals welcomed! Come and learn all you need to know about what to expect from your Support Coordinator.
To register, call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736       Click here to register online

- January Webinars -

Working it Out: Dispute Resolution under IDEA - Wednesday, January 6, 2016, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm: This webinar contains basic information about options for resolving disputes related to special education. The focus is on resolving disputes early and options available to families and schools under IDEA in Louisiana.

Emergency Planning for Special Needs in Active Shooter Events - Thursday, January 7, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: There were more active shooting events in the US in 2015 than there were days in the year.  Join us to learn how to develop emergency plans and procedures to prepare yourself, your family, your staff and your direct support workers.  After a short video, we will discuss real world scenarios for people with disabilities and how to plan and prepare.

Transition from High School to Post Secondary Training and/or Employment using Career Pathways, PET and Work Based Learning - Friday, January 8, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm:  This session will provide an overview of the transition options and opportunities available to students and graduates available through LA Department of Education, and Louisiana Rehabilitation Services including Jumpstart/Career Pathways and Pre-Employment Transition Services. 

Next Steps: IFSP to IEP - Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Families will learn about the transition process from Part C Early Intervention services to Part B preschool services. Topics include transition requirements, Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), Inclusion, and Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and objectives.

Bayou Health:  Who's In? Who's Out? and Who's Who? - Wednesday, January 20, 2016, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: You will learn which groups are mandatory participants in Bayou Health managed care for Medicaid in Louisiana and which groups can opt out. You will also learn who to call when you have a problem and basics on how to navigate Bayou Health.

The Big Picture: Expectations, Content, and Testing - Wednesday, January 20, 2016, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: IDEA 2004 mandates that all students with disabilities participate in statewide and districtwide testing "with appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments where necessary and as indicated in their respective individualized education programs.  Participants will learn how to review their child's IEP or 504 Plan and have a better understanding of the most commonly used accommodations.  We'll give you practical tips on who to communicate with at the school before state testing.

IEP Goals 101: A Guide for Monitoring Student Learning" - Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: This training will teach participants how to identify the key information to incorporate into the present level of academic and functional performance and how to create measurable goals and objectives.

ESL y Estudiantes Inmigrantes - Inscripción, Acceso al Idioma, y Clase - Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Vamos a revisar los derechos básicos de los inmigrantes y/o estudiantes que no hablan Inglés para inscribirse en la escuela pública; obtener información en un idioma que entienden; y aprender Inglés en "Clases de ESL"
Basic Rights in Special Education - Thursday, January 28, 2016, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Whether you're new to special education or have been involved for a while, this workshop is for you.  This presentation provides families with an introduction to their rights and responsibilities as parents of children with special needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA and Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act.  Parents begin to identify dreams and goals for their children, understand laws and learn advocacy strategies that will help them help their children reach those goals.
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.

Educational Advocacy Training for kids with hearing loss, Monday, January 25, 2016, 9:00 am to 4:45 pm, Marriott, 5500 Hilton Ave., Baton Rouge, LA - Training is free for families and professionals. Pre-registration is required! Click here for more information.  

The GBR Learning Disabilities Coalition presents CW Austin Learning Disabilities Conference, Saturday, January 30, 2016 - Designed to serve as a community resource to increase academic success for LD kids, this conference is Free to parents, teachers and professionals.

10th Annual Autism Conference: Translating Research Into Evidence-Based Practice, January 18 - 20, 2016, Hyatt Regency New Orleans, New Orleans, LA - This conference will feature topics developed specifically for practitioners, scientists, and parents of children with autism. Additionally, poster sessions will offer conference attendees the opportunity to review the foremost autism research being conducted around the world. Attendees will also be able to visit a bookstore and exhibit booths throughout the event. Click here for more information

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.

Decoding College Choices: For Students and Families of All Types, A New Scorecard. We all need clear, reliable information to choose the best, most affordable college programs.  The Department of Education offers a new tool to help personalize that information and customize those choices

Incorporating Social and Emotional Learning: The idea of "social and emotional" learning is widespread in education, and schools are looking to ways to add those competencies to their programs.

LaDDC News: Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Receiving OAAS Waiver Services Transitioning to the OCDD Residential Options Waiver

Ticket-to-Work Tutorials: An Interactive, self paced learning module that will guide you through the process of achieving your work goal 

How to Talk to Your Child About the News: Television or internet coverage of upsetting events like natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or mass shootings can cause kids to worry that something similar could happen to them or their loved ones. Help your child by putting the news in its proper context and addressing their concerns

Welcome to Parent Portal: Our resources are designed to help you tune in to what makes your child tick, and to guide you in thinking about the best way to meet your child's individual needs.

My Breakfast Reading Program: A FREE supplemental reading program based on sight words, phonemic awareness, synthetic phonics, analytic phonics, and syllabication using concepts and principals of precision teaching and direct instruction

Pete's Power Point Station: Free Presentations in PowerPoint format & Free Interactive Activities for Kids

Love and Logic provides a wealth of parenting tips and advice, with articles and handouts for parents of children ranging from newborns to teenagers. Trusted for over 35 years, the parenting advice from our experts covers topics such as potty training, aggressive toddlers, homework assignments, internet safety, accountability, appropriate consequences, and more.

Disability.gov's Guide to Health Information and Resources: This guide was developed to provide you with answers to some of your most frequently asked health-related questions. Disability.gov's Health section also has a lot of good resources covering topics such as health insurance, healthy living and finding health care.

What is #ThinkABILITY Month?  #ThinkABILITY month is a social media campaign to highlight great stories of people with disabilities doing something extraordinary.  Extraordinary is defined as something that most people would perceive not possible for the individual with a disability.  It's a time to demonstrate to the world that people with disabilities can in fact do lots of things successfully.  Some of these things may not seem extraordinary to a person without a disability - but in fact is often consider nearly impossible for a person with a disability.  

Help make our 2nd Annual #ThinkABILITY month a huge success by sending us stories.  Send all stories to Mary Jacob at mjacob@fhfjefferson.org.

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 ldumas@fhfjefferson.org.  All articles will be reformatted.  Pictures in the format of jpeg are highly encouraged. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

9:30 am - 12 noon

First Baptist Church, 5290 Canal Blvd., New Orleans, LA  70124

(Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines & St. Bernard Parish families are encouraged to attend)

  • Meet Legislators in your areas.
  • Get current information on state issues.
  • Increase your ability to be an effective advocate.
  • Learn techniques for sharing your personal story to encourage positive change.  

Families Helping Families of Jefferson is currently accepting resumes for the following positions
  • Legislative Advocate wanted for Jefferson Parish (Part Time)
  • Fund Development and Communication Director (Full Time)
Send resumes and cover letters to Mary Jacob at mjacob@fhfjefferson.org

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.

Self-Advocacy: A Valuable Skill I've Learned is written by Herman Ellis about the help he received from FHF that helped him better understand his transition plan and graduation pathway. 

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 December 16, 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.

A Little Lagniappe:
A little of this and a little of that - more stuff that might interest you. 

Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley: I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel.

Disability Scoop: IRS Relaxes Rules for New ABLE Accounts: The Internal Revenue Service is easing up on rules for new accounts that will allow people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their government benefits.

12 Activities to help your child with social skills Reading and understanding social cues don't come easy for children with special needs. Here are twelve activities that you can do with your child to help improve his or her social skills.

5th Grade Writing Page:  Digital Tool for Storytelling, Interactive Writing Tools, Newspaper/Brochure Help, Kidspiration 3 and much more. 

LATAN Marketplace:  Need good used equipment for discounted prices and sometimes free?  Check out the Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network (LATAN) for available equipment.  

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.