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 
May 2017
Celebrating our 25th Anniversary with GiveNOLA Day
From:  Mary Jacob, Executive Director
As you can probably imagine, being in business for 25 years doesn't just happen - especially as a non-profit. Programs must still be needed; be relevant to the community you serve and have real impact.  Without a doubt, we are still very much needed in the community and through our evaluation process we know our services are not only relevant - but most importantly, impacting lives in a positive way.  On average, we receive over 6,000 request for support annually.  This might be a phone call with a quick question, an email inquiry for resources, attendees at our training's or conferences or attending a meeting with parents.  Over the years our numbers continue to grow - as does the way we provide support.  

My first day of employment with FHF was November 1, 1994.  I started in a very small office where we shared desks.  In my office space were 3 other shared desks and the copy machine.  In addition to the copier, a typewriter at the secretary's desk and fax machine rounded out our technology.  We didn't use email, have a website, and social media wasn't even thought of yet.  When you wanted to communicate with someone - you did it the old fashion way - pick up the phone and call.  As I reflect on where we've been and where we've come over the years, I do feel like a proud mama.  That being said, it doesn't mean we didn't have a few rocky years and bumps along the way. Threats of government shutdowns and Hurricane Katrina were a few of those major bumps.  Growing a nonprofit isn't much different than raising a child.  In the beginning you are so proud and can't wait to show it off to everyone.  As the child and nonprofit turns to the toddler stage, you are still very proud and ready to show off your first art project (i.e. event flyer) and eventually by the time you turn 7 or 8ish,
reflect back on that art work and think - geez - look how bad we use to look. Funny thing is, as new technology evolves, no matter how often you look back, the things we do today, always looks better than the things we did yesterday.  By the time you hit the teenage years, growing pains start and you begin to assert your independence and not always in the most eloquent manner.  

Do you remember being 25?  I personally was a young mom, trying to figure out how to pay the bills and buy diapers.  I'm glad to say we don't worry about paying bills or buying diapers - but we do worry about having adequate staff to meet the growing demands of our families.  We are blessed to receive funding in forms of grants and contracts by the US Department of Education, The Louisiana Department of Health, Louisiana Department of Education, Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority and others. This core funding gets the rent, utilities, phones and some staff paid.  However, without enough human capital, it's becoming increasingly difficult to meet the ongoing needs of all the families reaching out to us for support.  

According to Giving USA, $373.25 BILLION dollars was donated to US Charities in 2015.  71% percent of that came from individuals just like you and me.  Let that sink in for a moment.  $264 BILLION dollars was donated to charities by people like you and me.  The average individual donation was $50. Another 16% of donations come from foundations and what's whopping 5% comes from corporations.  This isn't to say that corporations don't step up and help worthy causes.  It just means that YOU and ME do so much more and that's one of the things that make us so unique.  

Unlike a bunch of for profit businesses, non-profits provide services that typically can't be purchased in a for profit world.  In the human services field, these services are often the one thing that gives families hope to see them through tomorrow.  

Donations to Families Helping Families help fill in the gap for this very important support and services families have grown to depend on.  Our philosophy is simple. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime.  We believe in the power of parents and individuals with disabilities who are informed and educated about their child's or their own rights to supports and services. These parents and individuals aren't looking for handouts - they are parents that work very hard and exhausted from the overwhelming anxiety they live with every day that comes with caring for a child with special needs. These adult with disabilities want to live, work and recreate as independently as possible - but their reality is, so many businesses still have a bias against people with disabilities and finding employment, not to mention meaningful employment is nearly impossible. None of these people woke up one morning and said, "I think I'm going to be dependent on the government
to survive."  But the harsh reality is - they are often very dependent on it because the average person doesn't have the financial resources to provide the support needed.  We strive on empowering individuals to be the best advocates they can be.  We love hearing the successes of those that follow this philosophy and recognize their own power.  We know anything is possible - and we've witnessed firsthand the impossible - turn into possible.  

Families Helping Families of Jefferson is once again participating in #GiveNOLA Day, your one-day, on-line community giving day sponsored by The Greater New Orleans Foundation.  Last year over 4 million dollars was raised for local non-profits.  Our goal is to exceed the $10,000 you donated last year to  FHF of Jefferson.  We are hoping you can help up reach that goal.  

If you still believe in what we do and want to be part of #GiveNOLA Day, please donate to Families Helping Families of Jefferson on or before #GiveNOLA Day, Tuesday, May 2, 2017 from 12:01 am to 12:00 midnight.  You can even pre-schedule your donation before the official 12:01 am kickoff.  To make or schedule a donation, please click the "DONATE NOW TO FHF" button below.

Thank you from all the families, individuals and professionals we support daily!

Mary Jacob
Executive Director

P.S.  The Greater New Orleans Foundation invites the community to come out and celebrate a day of giving at a FREE concert with Irma Thomas, Rebirth Brass Band and Big Sam's Funky Nation.  Food and drinks will be available for sale with a portion of the proceeds going to the nonprofits participating in GiveNOLA Day.  Come out and enjoy some food and drinks from Blue Oak BBQ, The Company Burger, Taceaux Loceaux & Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group. 

#GiveNOLA 2017
#GiveNOLA 2017

Employment Opportunity to Join Our Team at FHF

Families Helping Families of Jefferson is looking for a dynamic individual that wants to be our next information and training specialist.   This parent - to - parent position will provide training and support to other parents of children with disabilities.  The perfect candidate will have a good base of knowledge of special education laws and bulletins, belief in inclusion, home and community based services and ideally a parent of a child receiving special education services.  Minimum requirements include Excellent Microsoft Office skills; Great written and verbal communication skills, highly organized, reliable transportation with minimum state insurance requirements, an ability to work some nights and weekends, as needed.   To learn more specifics about the position, please click here. 

Upcoming Trainings 

- FHF May Webinars

Childcare Centers and the ADA - Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Meeting the needs of individual children is something child care providers understand. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law, enacted in 1990, that provides child care professionals with an exciting opportunity to serve children with special needs or disabilities. The ADA gives the opportunity for child care providers to include children with disabilities in care. Providers, children and parents all benefit when children can learn and play together. Including both children with and without disabilities in child care reflects our larger community where people with and without disabilities live, work, and play together.  Participants will gain an understanding of reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures in order to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Personal preparedness can make the difference between life and death or healthy survival versus hospitalization after disaster - Thursday, May 4, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm:  Do you have a plan for sheltering in place? Chemical emergencies? Urgent evacuation?  Active Shooter Events?  Medicaid services while evacuated?  Are you considering self-directed waiver services?  If so, have you written your emergency preparedness plan?  Have you considered what happens with your child's medication at school if the school is on lock down?  This 2-part training will not only help you answer these questions but determine what emergencies to plan for, but how to plan and provide a host of resources that you can use to become better prepared. 
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Surrogate Parents -  Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Congress recognized the importance of active parents' involvement in planning their children's educational programs, monitoring progress, and challenging inappropriate decisions. This child advocate role is usually filled by parents. However, the laws give an alternative if the parents of a child with a disability are unknown or completely unavailable or if the child is a ward of the state. Surrogate parents fill the parental role in these situations. Most often a surrogate is either a foster parent or a volunteer from the local community. A brief overview of the special education laws around who may take on the role of parent for a child with a disability who may not have a biological or adoptive parent to serve in that role.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Personal preparedness can make the difference between life and death or healthy survival versus hospitalization after disaster - Thursday, May 11, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm:  Do you have a plan for sheltering in place? Chemical emergencies? Urgent evacuation?  Active Shooter Events?  Medicaid services while evacuated?  Are you considering self-directed waiver services?  If so, have you written your emergency preparedness plan?  Have you considered what happens with your child's medication at school if the school is on lock down?  This 2-part training will not only help you answer these questions but determine what emergencies to plan for, but how to plan and provide a host of resources that you can use to become better prepared. 
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Procedural Safeguards - Friday, May 12, 2017, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Since the first federal law dealing with the education of students with disabilities in public schools was passed, legal rights for parents has been an important part of the law. These legal rights for parents are generally referred to as "procedural safeguards". The purpose of this webinar is to let parents know that they have legal rights and to help them understand what these rights are.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

Summer Camps and the Americans with Disabilities Act - Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm: With school almost out, it's time to begin thinking about camp and other arrangements for the summer. Children with disabilities require and need recreation the same as other children. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("A.D.A."), a child is entitled to attend any camp or activity that non-disabled children attend, with modifications, and with a few exceptions. This training will provide an overview of who is protected by the A.D.A, the modifications required under the law, and how to prevent discrimination. 
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.

Leveling the Playing Field with Accommodations  -   Thursday, May 18, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.  Although both school districts and postsecondary schools must comply with these same laws, the responsibilities of postsecondary schools are significantly different from those of school districts. This webinar will provide participants with an overview of the differences of supports as well as, the responsibilities of both entities. 
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

IEP vs. Section 504 Plans: Which Is Right for My Child? -  Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm: Children with disabilities who qualify for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) receive services under an IEP plan. However, some children with disabilities do not receive services under an IEP but are instead served under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). Participants will learn the similarities as well as differences between the IDEA and Section 504.
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students

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

ALS, Communication & All That Jazz:  LSU Health - Human Development Center in collaboration with Team Gleason will be hosting a two-day conference entitled, ALS, Communication & All That Jazz at HDC (411 South Prieur Street) in New Orleans on June 9-10, 2017.  Presenters from across the country will address low-tech to high-tech communication strategies available for people with ALS (pALS) including AAC, Computer Access, Environmental Controls, Positioning and Mounting.  Click here for a copy of theregistration form.   Click here for a copy of theprogram

Louisiana Autism Quality Indicators Autism Training Modules:  Self Guided Trainings:  LSUHSC Human Development Center has created a variety of on-line trainings.  The topics are:  
  • Preparing for Transition:  Evidence-Based Practices to Support Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder after High School
  • Addressing Behavior
  • Roadmap to Success:  The Case for Inclusive Education
  • Social Smarts:  Addressing the Complexities of Social Interaction for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Related Disabilities
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • Fundamentals of Communication
  • Collaboration Rules and Tools
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Environment Supports for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Related Disorder
Website Updates

We've added literally hundreds of new resources to our website.  Check them out here!

We are continuously adding resources to our website.  If you know of a resource that is worth sharing with others, please share with us and we'll be happy to add.  

Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center (LaPTIC), a project of Families Helping Families of Jefferson is a proud partner with Louisiana State Personal Development Grant (LaSPDG) to provide families of children with disabilities and school districts with:


  • Family Friendly webinars & e-learning opportunities that support families of children with disabilities in literacy at home.
  • Quarterly updates of all training/workshop opportunities. 
  • Support families in the completion of the Parent Survey for State Performance Plan Indicator 8.
  • Support families, schools, districts and SPDG staff with information and resources for children with disabilities.  

You will now find a new tab on our tool bar - Literacy.  This literacy tab will take you to a new section of our website that is currently under construction.  Products developed through this partnership will be placed in this part of our website as well as other great resources and tools.  

This is YOUR section of the Newsletter!  

This section will feature trainings and resources specific to youth between the ages of 16 - 26 years old.  

- FHF May Youth Webinars - 

Are You Really My Friend - Monday, May 8, 2017, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Everyone wants and need friends, but how can you tell if someone is really your friend? People with disabilities or special needs are often bullied and abused by "so called friends." These "so called friends" might treat you badly by screaming/yelling at you, hitting you, or even forcing you to do things you do not want to do.
This webinar will give you basic information about how to recognize if someone is being a real friend to you or just using you. You will also get tips on how to recognize true friendship.

How to Ask for What I Need?  Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Whether you are in school, work, a doctor's office, a restaurant, or store; you have the right to have your needs met. Having your needs met is called having accommodations. You may have heard your parents talk about it. Now it is time for you to learn how to get your needs met.
This webinar will give you basic information about your rights to accommodations and how to ask for them. We will also provide everyone a list of common accommodations you can use when your needs are not being met.

A Smooth Move to Adulthood Transition Health Care Information for Youth with Special Health Care Needs and Disabilities - Thursday, May 25, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: The transition from pediatric care to adult health services is a critical time for YSHCN and can be challenging for families and youth alike. This webinar explores tools and strategies that can help families get ready for this important transition and will provide expert recommendations on youth health transition and identify key community programs and resources which support transition activities. 
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Family Members of/and Self-Advocate Youth Ages 16 - 26. 

- Youth Featured Resources - 

When young people with disabilities reach the "age of majority," they gain the right to manage their own affairs, including their money. In most states, this happens at age 18.  Legally considered as adults, they may take charge of financial decisions large and small. But will they be prepared to make financial decisions for themselves? Will they have the money skills and basic understanding of finance they will need?
Source:  Center for Parent Information and Resources

This plain language guide focus on the basics of civic engagement. Civic engagement means actively participating in our democracy. In a democracy, regular people choose, or elect, who gets to be in government. The people we elect should listen to our concerns and advocate for us in the government. But when they don't do that, we have the right to make our voices heard. Learn how to make your voice heard.
Source:  Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Self-advocacy is a key step in becoming an adult. It means looking out for yourself, telling people what you need, and  knowing how to take responsibility. No one is born knowing these skills. Everyone has to learn them. Ready to begin learning?  Here is some great information from teens, for teens, that can start you on your way.

The Division of Services for Children With Special Health Care Needs, MCHB, has established six indicators to Measuring Success for Children and Youth with Special Health Needs and their families. Measuring Success addresses two critical issues for families and youth with special health care needs or disabilities who are transitioning to adult health care.

Just off the Press - Hot Items

The state announced last week the availability of 55 New Opportunity Waiver slots, 125 Children's Choice slots, and 53 Supports Waivers slots available statewide for individuals with Emergency/Urgent situations.  The deadline to apply was Friday, April 28th.  Individuals screened with the SUN Tool must have scored a 4 on the tool to be considered Urgent.  If you believe you have urgent needs and have not had the SUN screening  yet, you should contact our local human services authority/district to get the screening completed.  

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)  The Louisiana Elementary and Secondary Education Plan pursuant to the Federal ESSA law will be submitted to the US Department of Education for federal review on April 15, 2017.  Even though there was much opposition to this early submission, The Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP) and The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) both voted to submit the plan in April.   

Child Care Assistance for Summer Care    The Louisiana Department of Education has revised their Child Care Assistance Program Summer Care forms and rates.  Click on the link for a copy of the new form. 
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.

Camping Health & Safety Tips - Camping is a fun way to get family and friends together to enjoy the outdoors. Follow these tips to help ensure your camping trip is safe and healthy.

Kids in Cuffs: Why Handcuff a Student With a Disability - Investigative journalists delved into a case of an eight year old boy with a disability who was handcuffed at school while having a meltdown and how that has affected his life and views of authority figures. This case led the journalists to post the statistics of incarnations, suspensions, referrals, and expulsions in schools all over the country. You can clearly see which states have higher rates and the difference between the rates of children without a disability versus those with a disability. 

Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) has updated their fact sheet on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). This fact sheet is in English or Spanish

Sharing an Autism Diagnosis With Family and Friends - This article, from the Child Mind Institute, offers suggestions to help parents when explaining their child's diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to grandparents and other relatives and close friends, to help significant others become effective allies. 

Milestones  -  A free online collection of videos aimed at helping parents understand grade-level expectations in grades K-12. Milestones show students demonstrating what success looks like in reading, writing and math, grade by grade. High school Milestones shows some real-world skills kids should know as well as the academic ones. 
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.

I recently discovered that relatives of mine that passed away a long time ago had left me an inheritance. I am a person with a disability and receive services that assist me to live in my own home. Any inheritance that I receive that is not left
to my Special Needs Trust can jeopardize these services.

This section will give you information on events FHF of Jefferson 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.

Jefferson Parish Self Advocate Needed for the Jefferson Parish Regional Advisory Council (RAC).  Currently there is a vacancy for one self advocate. This person must live in Jefferson Parish and have a developmental disability.  Must have transportation to quarterly meetings held on the West Bank and East Bank JPHSA offices. Click here to view the purpose of the RAC. Anyone interested should contact Brenda Gremillion at [email protected]

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 April 28, 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! 
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.

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)