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 
February 2017
Finding Greatness
By:  Mary Jacob
On Friday, January 20, 2017 the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump took the oath of office with the promise to make America great again.  It doesn't matter if you are Republican, Democrat, Independent or somewhere in between most people can agree that our country needed some change.  However, when I hear the slogan, "Make America Great Again", I missed out on when America ceased to be the greatest country in the world. 
To be clear here, I'm not writing this article as a political statement.  I find myself mixed with emotions from the left and the right on what it truly means to make America great again.  My idea of a great nation is one where EVERYONE has equal rights and valued equally.   Everyone means all - including individuals with disabilities.  How do we make this happen?  We make this happen by being vigilant advocates for our children, loved-ones, friends and others with disabilities. 
Not only is our country seeing shifts in political agendas which could harm individuals with disabilities - but our state is facing major budget shortages and once again we find ourselves fighting to protect services for individuals with disabilities.  It's like a double whammy for families that are already overwhelmed with the day to day rituals of caring for someone with a disability. 
Health Care - I'm not going to debate the merits or lack of regarding the Affordable Care Act.  What's not up for debate is the need for affordable, quality healthcare for individuals with disabilities.  If the ACA is repealed and something is not put in place to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, individuals with disabilities will once again have very limited options for quality healthcare. Before ACA individuals with disabilities could enroll in an unaffordable high risk insurance plan - unfortunately most remained uninsured.  Where is the equality in this?  How does this make America great again?  Yes, the ACA might not be the greatest - but let's not fix the problem on the back of the most vulnerable population of people.
Education - As a nation we've come a long way in educating children with disabilities.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act guarantees every child, regardless of their disability a Free, Appropriate, Public Education.   Is it possible to get this with a voucher?  On the surface the idea of school vouchers sounds wonderful.  As a parent you get to pick the school you want your child to attend, bring them the voucher and pay the difference - if there is any.  If you are already paying for school, it's a win-win as you get reimbursed for part or all of your tuition.  Who doesn't like that?  What happens when you arrive at that perfect school for your child and they tell you, your child may come here but you will first need to sign away for rights under The Individuals with Disabilities Act?   We will not provide an IEP or those services for your child.  This is exactly how the vouchers in Louisiana currently work.   What happens when you arrive at that perfect school and you're told we don't accept children with disabilities of any kind?  So this whole notion of school choice will allow non-public schools to discriminate against children with disabilities. Suddenly you realize choice becomes a right for only a select group of kids an your kiddo is in the wrong group. Additionally, desperately needed financial resources will be rerouted to nonpublic schools and we will be left with a public system that is segregated for children with disabilities and lack the resources they need to adequately educate the children.  Do we really want to go back 30 years?  How does this make America great again for children with disabilities?
Without affordable, quality healthcare and appropriate educational services we have no chance of children with disabilities growing up and becoming productive adults.  They will grow up and become more dependent on other social services and their families for survival.  Is this really where we want to go as a nation?  Is this what great looks like? 
Who doesn't want great?  But as a nation, we are only as great as our weakest link.  So for true greatness - we need to make sure individuals with disabilities are not forgotten in this idea of making us great again.

During these uncertain times I would recommend you stay vigilant, don't believe everything you read and do your own research using reputable sites.  Make decisions based on facts and not social media posts.  If you decide you are for or against something - own it.  Know you've made this decision based on your research and not on what someone else is posting which is often unreliable news sources being reposted by others that never even opened up the link to read the contents.  There are LOTS of fake headlines that have nothing to do with the story attached.  Just be mindful that times are changing and you need to be a little more inquisitive. 

As I approach the next exit off the interstate that is labeled Greatness - I can only imagine it being a place where all really means all and individuals with disabilities are respected and valued as contributing members of society and treated equally.  When that happens, I'll be the first to stand up an scream - AMERICA IS GREAT AGAIN!  

Upcoming Trainings 

- FHF February Workshops -

HELP! How do I deal with all this conflict! Friday, February 10, 2017, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm, Old Metairie Library, 2350 Metairie Rd., Metairie, LA 70001: Waiver Meetings, IEP Meetings, Parent-Teacher Conferences, Medicaid Issues, Social Security, Health Insurance! Navigating disability service systems can be very stressful and full of conflict, especially when you know your rights but they just won't budge. How do YOU deal with conflict and its stress in your life? Join Presenter Karen Scallan for this fun and interactive workshop to explore ways to reduce conflict you experience by moving toward effective resolutions.
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736 

Money Management, Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm, Paul Emenes Building, Room 12, 822 S. Clearview Parkway, Harahan, LA 70123: Families Helping Families of Jefferson is partnering with People Helping People and Jefferson Parish Public School System - Adult Education Program to provide this important training on money management. This training is designed for young adults with disabilities between the ages of 16 and up. The topics that will be covered include:
  • College savings
  • Emergency budgets
  • Financial success
  • Protecting your income, and more.
Come learn, ask questions, and get prepared for your financial future!
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736

- FHF February Webinars

Transition 101:  Preparing Students with Disabilities for Success After High School - Wednesday, February 1, 2017, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: This presentation will offer an overview of the secondary transition process for students who receive special education services.  Participants will learn about transition planning including the value of student participation, legal requirements, and transition planning in the Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Learn About Accommodations for Instruction vs. the State Assessment  - Thursday, February 2, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm:  The IEP team determines the instructional need of accommodations and/or modifications for students including their participation in the state assessment. Participants will gain a better understanding of the difference with use of  accommodations as students begin to prepare for state testing.

An Overview & Discussion of La. State Education Bulletin 1530 - Friday, February 3, 2017, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Parents will gain a deeper understanding of the IEP process as it pertains to our state and federal law.  Join the discussion and ask questions.
How to Have Fun Locally for Little or no Money - Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm: With Mardi Gras and Spring Break coming up, the kids will be out of school and begging for something to do. Whether it'll be a family outing, a friends outing, or even an outing with their PCA, sometimes we run out of ideas and either end up staying home or spending too much money.  Here is a guide for some free fun things to do in the Greater New Orleans area as well as some Mardi Gras tips. 

Taking a Closer Look at IEPs: What Parents Need to Know - Thursday, February 9, 2017, 10:30 am - 11:30 am: Parents are key members of their child's IEP team. This training includes an in-depth look at the Individualized Education Program (IEP), including how to use evaluations to write measurable goals, as well as strategies to help parents become more active participants in their child's IEP meetings.

Understanding the Important Difference between "Accommodations" & "Modifications" - Tuesday, February 14, 2017, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm:  Meeting after meeting, parents and teachers use the words "accommodation" and "modification" almost interchangeably when discussing IEPs and student needs. If understood and used correctly, these words can greatly impact the success of a child's educational program. Get answers to these questions and more: How can accommodations and modifications help my child in the general  education classroom? How is it included in IEP and which accommodations are provided for state testing?
Creating your Home Book for Self Direction - Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Join us to learn how to organize and set up your Home Book for your Self-Direction services.  Attendees will receive pre-made, editable forms in Word format for their use.  Who should attend:  Anyone interested in learning more about self-directed services, including self-directed waiver services, anyone currently with self-directed waiver services, support coordinators, local governing entity Human Service District/Authority Developmental Disability staff.

Complaints, Appeals and State Fair Hearings - Friday, February 17, 2017, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Join Karen Scallan of Special Needs & Parent Support Services of LA, LLC and learn how complaints, appeals and state fair hearings work for Healthy Louisiana plan services.  How to file a complaint or appeal, how to request a state fair hearing, what happens in a state fair hearing and how they are conducted. Who Should Attend: All Healthy Louisiana plan members, support coordinators, local governing entity Human Service District/Authority Developmental Disability staff.

Easy Behavior Tracking - Thursday, February 23, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Data is the cornerstone for creating effective Behavior Intervention Plans. However, finding the time to collect data and manage it can be quite daunting for teachers and parents. Luckily there are several free and free to try iOS apps and websites that can record, analyze, and graph student data. Some programs even facilitate class-wide management plans with daily parental updates. 

Extended School Year Services: Summer IEP Services - Friday, February 24, 2017, 10:00 am - 11:00 am:  This training provides an overview of the ESYP process for children with disabilities. Some questions (and answers) that will be discussed include: what is ESY, how does a child qualify, and what are the options?

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

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Symposium - Friday, February 3, 2017, 8:00 am - 4:45 pm, LSU Human Development Center, 411 S. Prieur St., New Orleans, LA 70112: Nationally Recognized Experts will be featured. Topics Include: Diagnosis & Treatment, Early Childhood & Special Education, Juvenile & Adult Criminal Justice, Strategies & Interventions, Advocacy. For special accommodations and requests contact Alisha Williams at [email protected] 

GBR LD Coalition Presents - C W Austin Learning Disabilities Conference - Saturday, February 4, 2017, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, La. State Police Training Academy, 7901 Independence Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806: A Free event for parents, educators and providers. The C W Austin LD Conference is a free volunteer effort created by concerned professionals to help parents, educators and professionals access learning disabilities resources in our community.

Beyond Expectations! Planning High School Experiences for Students with ASD and Related Disabilities - Join the LASARD Project to learn how to prepare students with ASD and related disabilities for employment, independence, and for living happy, fulfilling lives after high school. 
Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 9:00 am - 2:30 pm, Natchitoches Events Center, 750 Second Street, Natchitoches, LA 71457:  For more information and to register click here!  Wednesday, February, 8, 2017, 9:00 am - 2:30 pm, LSUHSC Human Development Center, 411 S. Prieur St., New Orleans, LA 70112:   For more information and to register click here!

Strategies to Expand Your Child's Diet: The SOS Approach - Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm, Crane Rehab Center - Pediatrics, 8300 Earhart Blvd., Suite 100, New Orleans, LA 70118: Picky or problem eater? Join therapist Rebecca Connick, MOT, LOTR, for a free Snack N Chat event. Contact [email protected] for more information. 
Technology Consideration and Assessment for Secondary Students - Thursday, February 16, 2017, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT: Presenter: Chris Bugaj, Assistive Technology Trainer at Loudon County Public Schools, Virginia; host, writer and producer of A.T.TIPSCAST and author of ATEval2Go: How do educators work to determine which tools and strategies a student might require in order to ensure a free appropriate public education (FAPE)? When it comes to the selection of technology, there are often numerous options that might be put into place. Educators at the secondary level can use a familiar framework to help analyze the situation and suggest what to implement from a least to most restrictive point of view. In this webinar, participants will have the opportunity to discuss and practice a method of assessing student needs that incorporates tools and strategies that take the least restrictive approach.
#ThinkABILITY 2017

Save - the - Date



Hot Topics

Accountability under Title I, Part A of the ESEA -  The Frequently Asked Questions on Accountability under Title I, Part A of the ESEA provides an overview of many of the key provisions for accountability and school improvement and is intended to help States, Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and other stakeholders understand the statutory and regulatory requirements, particularly in areas where States and LEAs have raised questions or asked for further explanation or suggestions. The FAQs include descriptions of how States and LEAs may meet these requirements, provides examples, and links to other related non-regulatory guidance under the ESSA, such as the State Plan Peer Review Guidance. 

Accountability for English Learners under the ESEA - The  resource guide on accountability for English learners under the ESEA describes the ESSA accountability provisions for English learners (ELs) in greater detail, including how they compare to those previously required by the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act. Based in part on many of the questions the Department has received from States and LEAs on these issues in particular, the resource guide supports States in setting long-term goals and measurements of interim progress for students' English language proficiency (ELP), developing a Progress in Achieving English Language Proficiency indicator, and including all ELs in their updated accountability systems, particularly ELs with disabilities, former ELs, and recently arrived ELs. 

OSERS' Office of Special Education Programs is pleased to announce the release of three documents as part of the new Intervention IDEAs information brief series. These documents provide information on interventions to address academic and behavioral challenges in infants, toddlers, children, and youth impacted by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD)lead exposure, and opioids. Each brief includes a description of the issue, examples of practices associated with the interventions, quality indicators, or measures of the positive impacts that may occur as a result of the intervention, and links to additional resources.
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.

Oral Health Care for Children with Developmental DisabilitiesThis clinical report describes the effect that poor oral health has on children with developmental disabilities as well as the importance of partnerships between the pediatric medical and dental homes.

Taking Care of Your Teeth and MouthHealthy teeth and gums make it easy for you to eat well and enjoy good food. Several problems can affect the health of your mouth, but good care should keep your teeth and gums strong as you age.

Parents Guide to OCDChildren with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have intrusive thoughts and worries that make them extremely anxious, and they develop rituals they feel compelled to perform to keep those anxieties at bay. This guide explains the often confusing behaviors that can be associated with OCD, and the treatments most effective for helping kids who develop it.

Tape-Recording IEP Meetings - What Does the Law Say? Federal law does not prohibit a parent or school official from recording IEP meetings. State departments of education or school districts can require, prohibit, limit, or regulate the use of recording devices at IEP meetings. Learn the exceptions. 

Best Practices in Self-Advocacy Skill Building - Here, you'll find quick connections to materials and resources you can use with youth with disabilities and their families to build their abilities to advocate for themselves. 

5 Tips for Finding Employment for College Students on the Spectrum - This is blog post from a college student who is on the spectrum. He gives tips to other college students on the spectrum on how to find a job that suites you while in college.
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.

Families Helping Families of Jefferson sat down with Ms. Edwina Jones for a Question and Answer session regarding the supports and services she received from our organization. 

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.

Visit Families Helping Families of Jefferson at the Urban League of Louisiana Schools Expo 2017 - Saturday, February 4, 2017, Mercedes Benz Superdome Field, Gate A Ground, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm: Free and open to the public. Free Vouchers and School Supplies! Click here for more information!

Acadiana Area Resource Information Workshop - Thursday, February 9, 2017, 8:30 am - 3:00 pm, Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office Public Safety Complex, Training Center, 1825 W. Willow Street, Building 2, Scott, LA 70583:  Improving Early Identification and Access to Comprehensive Care for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs.   Join Children's Special Health Services for a day focused on the importance of developmental screening and surveillance, care coordination, and health care transition for youth with special health care needs. Attendance is free.

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.

Waiver Registry Dates - As of January 31, 2017, 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!
Region 2 - Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 9 am to 12 noon, American Red Cross - 4655 Sherwood Common Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70816.  For additional information, call Ashley at 225.715.5740 or 225.216.7474 or email [email protected] 
Region 3 - Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 9:30 am - 12 noon, Terrebonne Parish Library - North, 4130 W. Park Ave., Gray, LA  70359.   For additional information, call Julie at 985.447.4461 or 985.438.1179 or email [email protected] 
Region 4 - Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 9:30 am - 12 noon,  Lafayette Public Library, 301 W. Congress St., Lafayette, LA  70501.  For additional information, call Mauricia at 337.984.3458 or email [email protected]acadiana.org.
Region 5 - Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 9:00 - 11:30 am, SOWELA Community College Arts & Humanities Building, 3820 Sen J Bennett Johnston Ave, Lake Charles, LA  70615  For additional information, call Mylinda at 337.436.2570 or email [email protected] 
Region 6 - Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 9:30 am - 12 noon Kees Park Community Center, 2450 Highway 28 East, Pineville, LA  71360.  For additional information, call Kristen or Melissa at 318.641.7373 or email [email protected] or [email protected] 
Region 8 - Friday, February 24, 2017 - 9:30 am to 12 noon.  Delta Community College, 7500 Millhaven Road, Room 108, Monroe, LA  71203. For additional information, call Stacey at 318.361.0487 or email [email protected] 
Region 9 - Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 10 am - 12:30 pm, Madisonville Library, 1123 Main Street, Madisonville, LA  70447.  For additional information, call Katie or Karen at 985.507.8540 or 985.264.1186 or email [email protected] or [email protected] 

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.


Give your VALENTINE a gift that gives back. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Families Helping Families of Jefferson (a.k.a. Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans, Inc.) whenever you shop on AmazonSmile. Visit https://smile.amazon.com/ch/72-1198440

Families Helping Families of Jefferson is proud to celebrate our 25th year providing support to families throughout the State of Louisiana! 
 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)