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.

Exceptional Times 
November 2016
Attention Everyone on the NOW Waiting List

By:  Mary Jacob

If you or your loved one is currently on the New Opportunities Waiver (NOW) waiting list, officially known as the Request for Services Registry (RFSR) listen up.   By now you should have received a letter from Mark Thomas, OCDD Assistant Secretary with the State of Louisiana informing you about a new screening project. 
Beginning October 10, 2016 through May 30, 2017 each Human Service Authority or District or their representatives will be contacting everyone on the NOW waiting list to complete a new screening calling the Screening for Urgency of Need (SUN).  This screening process will take the place of your yearly validation.  In order to remain on the waiting list, you must complete this screening. The screening may take 1 to 2 hours, depending on the needs. 
If you are on the waiting list and have NOT received this letter, it's very important you contact your local Human Service Authority or District to make sure you are in fact on the NOW waiting list and they have your correct mailing address.  If you have moved since you were initially put on the waiting list and never updated your information, you need to do this immediately. 
Why the new screening?
It's no secret the NOW waiting list has over 10,000 people waiting for services.  Currently, everyone approved for the NOW waiver waited their turn on the waiting list.  Once their name came up, they were sent an offer letter for the NOW waiver.  Because of our state's constant budget issues, the list has continued to grow.  Even when the legislature approves new slots, it's so seldom and the supply simply cannot keep up with the demand. 
What the state knows is everyone on the list has a different level of needs.  Many have critical needs that need to be met immediately or it may be life threatening.  Others have significant needs, but not considered life threatening.  Then we have others on the list with no substantial needs at this time, but anticipate as their child grows up their needs will be greater.   According to Mark Thomas, during this screening process the representatives will be asking questions about: 
  1. The types of existing formal and informal supports/services you and/or your family currently receive;
  2. Types of supports/services you and your family need but do not currently receive; and
  3. The urgency of the support needs identified.  
After this information is gathered it will be used to inform legislative requests specific to funding for individuals with developmental disabilities. 
Honesty is the key
As parents many of us love to brag about the wonderful things our children and adults with disabilities have accomplished.  These are the things that make us proud to be their parents.  However, we must be painfully honest when speaking to the representatives.  It's okay to share your successes, but keep them in a good frame of reference.  You need to be completely upfront about your needs and how it will improve the quality of life for everyone involved.  Think about the questions carefully and how they might apply to a typical person not needing supports.  Remember, at some point this urgency might determine how quickly you get services. 
To see a copy of the letter, click here.  For additional information you may call JoAnn Payne with OCDD at 1-866-517-7687 or email [email protected].
Families Helping Families of Jefferson is proud to celebrate our 25th year providing support to families throughout the State of Louisiana!  

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

Upcoming Trainings 

- FHF November Workshops -

Cooking Matters -  Come join us for a FREE Six-week cooking course!  Monday, November 7 - December 12, 2016 - All classes are scheduled on Monday and are from 5:00 - 7:00 pm, Elmwood Fitness Center Auditorium, 1200 S. Clearview Pkwy., Elmwood, LA 70123: Nutrition is for Everyone partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank & nonprofit organizations across Louisiana to bring nutrition and cooking education to people with disabilities and their support people.   Click here for more information!  
To enroll or find out more information about the classes, please call Raquel Castaneda, 504-888-9111, Ext. 217.

Benefits Planning - Wednesday, November 9, 2016, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm, East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, La 70001: The South Louisiana Benefits Planning Program (SLBPP): Come and learn how work impacts Social Security benefits and information on available work incentives that will allow an individual to secure, maintain or advance in their employment, while maintaining necessary benefits. Click here for more information! 
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736 
Transition from High School to Employment and Adulthood for Individuals with Disabilities: What lies ahead? Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm, East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, La 70001: This two-hour session will provide:
  • An overview of transition from school to the community
  • Available supports, opportunities and services
  • Local and national examples of successful transitions
  • Working with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS), the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPS) to obtain meaningful WORK
  • Funding and agency "rules"/policies
  • How to select a service provider, what services to expect and how employment services are delivered
  • Impact of earnings on SSI, SSDI and other federal benefits
  • Information to help negotiate state and local agencies that will provide these services
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736

- FHF November Webinars

How to Conduct Friendly and Productive IEP Meetings - Thursday, November 3, 2016, 10:00 am - 11:00 am:  This webinar was designed with input from parents, parent groups, advocacy organizations, teachers, mediators, facilitators and district representatives. Participants will discuss how to make IEP meetings more productive and friendly and is divided into four key areas: People, Process, Preparation and Meeting, Outcome and Follow-through. This presentation will focus on practical skill development for IEP team members and specific strategies for increasing communication and conflict prevention will be discussed in each of the four areas.

Overwhelmed by choosing your Louisiana plan? Thursday, November 3, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm:  Not sure how to make your choice?  Karen  Scallan will help you learn how to choose a plan and help you keep your current providers.

The Big Step: Transitioning Into Preschool - Friday,  November 4, 2016, 10:00 am - 11:00 am:   This webinar is to give insight on the importance of successful transitions from Early Intervention services to preschool. It touches on the importance of the roles of the parents, service coordinators, and educators. Participants will learn the positive and negative effects of transitions. We will also focus on what to look for in a preschool program.

Options for Resolving IEP Disagreements with School - Wednesday, November 9, 2016, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm:  Sometimes you may disagree with the LEA about your child's special education. When such disagreements occur, parents and school districts can turn to IDEA's procedural safeguards and dispute resolution options, which protect the rights of parents and children with disabilities. This Free webinar will provide you with explanation on IDEA's procedural safeguards and dispute resolution options and the Louisiana Department of Educational rights for students with Disabilities handbook.

Contents of the IEP - Wednesday, November 9, 2016, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm:  A child's IEP, by law, must contain specific information, including the special education and related services that he or she will receive. But there's so much more in an IEP! Find out in detail.

EEOC Basic Overview of the Laws - Thursday, November 10, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: This presentation will focus on each of the laws enforced by the EEOC including example of discriminatory practices and how an employee files a Charge of Discrimination.  It will also include what an employer should do after being Notified of a Charge.

Successful Transition Planning and the IEP: All You Need to Know for Parents of Children aged 14 and older - Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm:  This training will prepare parents and students to be active participants in developing a meaningful and useful transition plan to help them as they prepare for life as an adult, when they finish school. It will tell you what needs to be in the transition plan, and what the law (IDEA) says about transition services. The transition plan is part of the IEP for students who are 16 and over. It can be frightening to contemplate life after school has finished, so join us as we help take the mystery out of it and to give you the information you need to ensure that a successful transition is within the reach of your child.

This is How We Do It: Disability and Dating - Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Dating is normal part of life that may be awkward and many times goes without being spoken about to people with disabilities. Dating can be fun but also scary, especially for individuals with disabilities. It is very important to stay safe and to set up rules and precautions before going on dates. Learn about dating tips in this webinar geared towards young adults with disabilities. Our goal is to encourage dating while promoting safety and well being. 

Understanding and Writing an IEP - Wednesday, November 16, 2016, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Participants will gain an understanding of the IEP content and the documentation necessary to develop an IEP. Discussion will focus on who is required to be involved in the development of an IEP and what the parent and school roles are in the process. Each section of the IEP will be reviewed with an explanation of what information is required by IDEA 2004 and what needs to be recorded in the various IEP sections.

Strategies & Tools for Dyslexia - Part 1: Wednesday, November 16, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm - Part 2: Friday, November 18, 2016, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Dyslexia is a diverse diagnosis that can impact a studentīs performance in a variety of ways. This can include fine motor writing, composition, reading, communication, spatial skills, and the list goes on. During this 2 part webinar series, participants will learn approaches, strategies, tools, and resources that will increase student independence while utilizing their unique style of learning for academic success.  This two part series will focus on: Neurological Research, Visual/Audio Reception, and Reading and part two will focus on Written Expression, Spatial Skills, and Mathematics.
Give All Students a Voice - Thursday, November 17, 2016, 10:30 am - 11:30 am: Some students go through their whole school career without ever getting a chance to express themselves. This session will discuss how to develop a communication system for all students to be able to express what they know. Participants will be taken through different types of Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) systems ranging from no tech to high tech devices and how they can be integrated depending on the student, environment and task.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are essential laws that help to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities. - Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm:  Each law has it's own specific purpose. In this workshop, participants will gain an understanding of the ADA, IDEA, and Section 504, how they relate to each other, and about eligibility requirements overall! A specific focus will surround how a student is determined to be eligible for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan and the rules and regulations of each.
On Time, Prepared, and In Control: Executive Functioning Strategies for  Success - Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm:  When students have issues with executive functioning, any task that requires planning, organization, memory, time management and flexible thinking becomes a challenge. We will explore these challenges as well as strategies to help your students improve their executive skills and manage the difficulties. 

View our full calendar of events here. 

FHF e-Learning Mini Modules

e-Learning Mini Modules are formatted for all devices so even if you are at a ball game, dance practice or waiting for your dinner to arrive in a restaurant, you can log onto our website and watch one of our e-Learning Mini Modules in approximately 10 minutes.  That's right - you only need about 10 minutes!  The following e-Learning Mini Modules are currently available:
  • What do you do when the school calls to pick up your child?  
  • What transportation services are available to my child with a disability?
  • How can I prepare for my child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting?
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Basics
  • What is Least Restricted Environment (LRE)?
We hope these are useful to you and happy to be able to add additional ways for families to learn relevant information they need in order to get their child the most appropriate education they deserve.   Click here to go to our website and learn more about the e-Learning  Modules!

Trainings & Webinars provided by others

Technology Solutions for Early Childhood - The Future is Now! - Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 8:30 am - 2:00 pm: This 1-day symposium is taking place on-site in Washington, DC but is also available via livestream for those unable to attend in person. Join thought leaders in early childhood development and assistive technology (AT) at this CTD symposium for policy makers, national association staff, researchers, family advocates, and others. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), participants will learn about evidence-based practices, interesting research being conducted, and ways in which families are successfully using technology to support the developmental and learning needs of their children.   Click here to register or learn more about the event! 

Stress Management Resilience & Renewal workshops - A Time to Rest, Refocus & Re-charge - November 8, 9 or 10, 2016, Louisiana Recovery Office, 1500 Main St., Baton Rouge, LA: For FEMA, CNCS/AmeriCorp, GOHSEP and VOAD partners. Click here for more information!

Hot Topics

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance Encouraging Well-Rounded Education  - The U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance to help states, districts and schools provide students with a more well-rounded education under Title IV, Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAE).

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on Supporting Early Learning through the Every Student Succeeds Act - The U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance to help ensure young children from birth through third-grade get the strong start they need to achieve success in school and in life. This is the Department's first comprehensive look at how the nation's new education law supports our youngest learners.
Links You Want To Check Out

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.

Surviving the holidays: Dealing with relativesStop worrying about what others think and make the holidays meaningful for your child with special needs. Here are holiday issues that might come up and some creative ideas to make it work for your family.

AT in Action: Meet Mason - In this video, you'll meet Mason, a young boy with vision loss who, with the help of AT, is able to learn reading and writing in the same classroom as his sighted peers.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Parents' Guide to Childhood Immunization: The Parents' Guide to Childhood Immunizations helps parents and caregivers learn about the role vaccines play in helping keep children healthy. The color booklet includes a glossary and list of resources and is illustrated with children's artwork.

Guide to Health Information and Resources: U.S. Federal government website for information on disability programs and services nationwide. These guides have been developed to help people with disabilities, their families and caregivers locate the resources they need in their community and nationwide. Whether you're looking for information about Social Security benefits, how to find a job, or financial assistance for students with disabilities, you'll find a guide with answers to your questions.

Jobs Reports Suggest More With Disabilities Unemployed: The jobless rate for people with disabilities rose to 12.1 percent in June, a rise from 9.7 percent the month prior, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

ABLE Account Updates by State: ABLE Legislation by State - Current as of September 26, 2016

Education Planner is designed to help youth transitioning out of high school plan their future. The website has many activities to help youth figure out what they are good at and what they need to improve to succeed. It's all about helping them discover their personal goals. 

Election 2016: Voting Guide for People with Disabilities - On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, Louisianans will head to the polls to elect a new President and U.S. Senator. We will also select U.S. Representatives, local officials, and vote on a number of Constitutional amendments and propositions. Election 2016 is important, and this guide will help prepare you to GEAUX VOTE!

Debunking the Three BIGGEST Myths about Disability Benefits and Work - There are several common myths about how working will affect disability benefits and health care coverage. Here are the three most common and why they are wrong.

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 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.

Our Family's Success Story: Working with Families Helping Families of Jefferson - After marrying my husband, I adopted his son, Israel, who was seven years old. When I met Israel, I learned of his behavioral and developmental challenges. Click here to read more about Israel's success story!

This section will give you information on events FHF will be attending, waiver waiting list info, other community events you  might be interested in attending and anything else that doesn't fit in one of the above sections.

First Zion Baptist Church Health Fair, Saturday, November 12, 2016, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm, 1221 S. Causway Blvd., Jefferson, La 70121 - The goals of the event are to bring awareness of all agencies/health providers that are available to promote good healthy lifestyles. Visit Thuy Nguyen at the FHF Booth. 

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 developemental disabilities and their families, acting as the Single Point of Entry.

Waiver Registry Dates - As of October 31, 2016 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

LaCAN (Louisiana Council's Advocacy Network).  LaCAN will now keep you informed about opportunities to advocate for systems change in home and community-based services, employment, and education.   Click here to join!

FHF 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. 
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

FHF of Jefferson 

201 Evans Road, Bldg. 1, Suite 100

Harahan, LA  70123


800.766.7736 (toll free)


Families Helping Families of Jefferson and Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center | 201 Evans Rd. | Bldg. 1, Ste. 100 | Harahan | LA | 70123