Proposed Changes to Delaware’s Special Education Funds – A Call To Action!

May 28, 2015

Do you have a child with disabilities attending a Delaware public school? Then you may want to take action now, before your child’s special educational needs are put in jeopardy.

Calling All Delaware Families of Children With Disabilities!

The Delaware General Assembly is considering action that could result in the diversion of funds currently used to educate children with disabilities in our public schools. Contact members of the General Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee today and urge them not to take these funds away, so that the education of our children with disabilities is not jeopardized.

Delaware Special Education

Proposed Budget Change to Special Education Funding

The General Assembly’s proposed budget bill has language in its fine print that would allow some of the state’s school districts the “financial flexibility” to take money that is currently given to the districts for specific purposes, and instead use it for any purpose that the school district sees fit.

This is called Flexible Funding and could impact many Delaware public schools and the children with disabilities who attend these schools.

The Impact of Flexible Funding on Special Education

While some special education funds are protected from this Flexible Funding initiative, basic special education funds — the state special education dollars that are set aside for education of students with less severe disabilities — are included in the initiative and would be available for schools to allocate elsewhere.

The majority of students with disabilities in our public schools are educated with these basic special education funds.

Delaware Students With Disabilities

School districts receive these extra basic special education funds based on how many children with disabilities they report attending their schools. These extra funds were created by the state for the purpose of ensuring that students with disabilities, who are more expensive to educate, receive the educational resources necessary to help them fulfill their potential.

State budget approval of Flexible Funding will be detrimental for many students with disabilities!

Contact Your Delaware Representatives Today!

It is irresponsible, and ultimately harmful to children with disabilities, to allow schools to spend those dollars on other needs. The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is considering the state’s budget bill right now, so we urge you to contact the members of the committee to let them know how important the preservation of special education funding is to you.

Delaware Special Education

When contacting a committee member, use the wording, Flexible Funding, to reference the special education funding in question.

The members of the Joint Finance Committee are listed below. Contact them today and voice your concerns.

Joint Finance Committee Chairs: 

Joint Finance Committee Members:

If you are concerned about the educational needs of students with disabilities, please send a letter and/or an email stating your disagreement to Flexible Funding to your representative NOW!

We Are Here To Help

Please contact Delaware Family Voices if you have any questions about the Flexible Funding issue, or would like guidance on how to have your voice heard. Our goal is to ensure the State hears all voices, and understands those issues vital to families of children with special needs.

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Join Us At LIFE Conference 2015!

December 16, 2014

Do you have a family member with disabilities or work with persons with disabilities? Would you like to learn more on how you can help family, friends or co-workers with disabilities lead their best lives?

LIFE Conference

Then join Delaware Family Voices and many others on Thursday, January 15th, for the 17th annual Delaware LIFE Conference.

What Is LIFE Conference?

LIFE Conference is Delaware’s largest conference devoted to issues faced by children and adults with disabilities. It’s primary goal is to support persons with disabilities, provide relevant information, and educate conference attendees in each of the following four areas:

Legislation: Join in an interactive panel with federal and state policy makers. Learn more about Delaware’s 2015 Policy priorities, and how DART is working on a Transit redesign

Independence Through Assistive Technology (AT): Learn why pediatric based Movement and Mobility related Assistive Technology (MMAT) is the next step for children with disabilities. Learn how to maximize overall accessibility in the community setting, and why access to assistive technology for young children is vital.

Family: Better understand opioid abuse and its treatment options. Learn how to become an empowered self-advocate. Hear about the STAND – Stop The Abuse Now Delaware – initiative.

Education: Learn about state plans to improve results for children with disabilities. Understand how schools are addressing the impact of childhood trauma in the classrooms. Listen to an overview of the DelAWARE DisABILITY Hub.

This one day event brings together a broad assortment of information designed to serve persons with disabilities and their families, as well as resources and knowledge to further help them live LIFE to the fullest.

LIFE Conference Delaware

LIFE Conference is made possible through a joint effort of many Delaware organizations whose primary purpose is to assist and enhance the lives of persons with disabilities and their families.

The LIFE Conference 2015 Agenda

LIFE Conference 2015 attendees will have the opportunity to:

  • Listen to Keynote Speaker Michael Gamel-McCormick, Associate Executive Director for Research and Policy at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and the Director of the Promise Grant Technical Assistance project.
  • Attend sessions on relevant topics in Legislation, Independence, Family and Education.
  • Hear from a host of speakers and panel members knowledgeable in a wide variety of disabilities needs.
  • Visit exhibitors dedicated to persons with disabilities and their families.
  • Enjoy a lunch full of networking opportunities.

Disabilities Conference

For complete details, check out the LIFE Conference 2015 Agenda and the detailed session topics.

LIFE Conference 2015 Event Details

LIFE Conference 2015 event and registration details are:

When: Thursday, January 15, 2015

Where: Dover Downs Hotel, 1131 North DuPont Highway, Dover DE

Time: 8:00 am to 3:45 pm

General Registration Fees: $50 by January 1, 2015; $75 after January 1st.

Student/Consumer Registration Fees are $25.

Sponsorships are available for select attendees. See below for details

Complete the LIFE Conference 2015 Registration form to reserve a spot.

Got questions about LIFE Conference 2015? Contact LIFE Conference directly at (302) 691-3187.

Announcing DE Family Voices Parent Sponsorships!

Delaware Family Voices is pleased to announce a limited number of sponsorships for families who want to attend the Life Conference, but can not afford it. Travel reimbursement is also available for recipients from New Castle and Sussex Counties. Please contact Erica Schetter at (302) 669-3033 or p2p@defv.org for more information.

DE Family Voices At LIFE Conference 2015

We hope to see you at LIFE Conference 2015! Be sure to stop by the Delaware Family Voices exhibit and see how we can help you. Learn about upcoming training sessions and support groups, and how they might benefit you and your family.

Delaware Family Voices

Will you be attending LIFE Conference 2015? Have you attended prior LIFE conferences? Share your experiences with us!

LIFE = Legislation Independence Family Education

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. A Donation to our organization helps support Delaware families in need.

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Images from LIFE Conference 2015 and Delaware Family Voices.


The Creating A Common Vision Summit – A Success Story

October 29, 2014

On Wednesday September 17, 2014, Delaware Family Voices hosted the Creating A Common Vision Summit. People from across Delaware came together in a conjoined effort to improve the lives of children with mental health and severe behavioral health needs. It was a successful day packed with networking and collaboration.

The Summit Goal

The goal of the Creating a Common Vision summit was to develop a strategic plan for the development of a Delaware based parent-run chapter of the Federation of Families.

Federation of Famlies

The Federation of Families is a national organization that focuses on issues relevant to families of children with severe emotional, mental health, and/or behavioral challenges. Learn more about the mission of the Federation of Families organization at our blog, Federation of Families Is Coming To Delaware and at the Federation of Families website.

Let’s Get Talking!

The Summit was attended by representatives from agencies across the state, including state departments, school districts, mental health agencies, and community agencies. Also attending the summit were parents of children with severe mental health and/or behavioral health issues.

Children's Mental Health Programs

 

Everyone in attendance had one goal in common – to assist children with severe mental health and behavior health needs. What an impressive collaborative effort by  everyone in attendance!

The Summit opened with a warm welcome from Ann Phillips, Executive Director of Delaware Family Voices.

Delaware Family Voices

 

Ann began the conference with a few words about Delaware Family Voices and the Family To Family Information Center, the infrastructure under which Delaware Family Voices operates.

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health (DPBHS) was on hand to support our Delaware families in developing a strategic plan to address children’s mental health issues in Delaware.

Delaware Services DPBHS

 

DPBHS representative Barbara Messick addressed how they can better engage families throughout Delaware. She also provided families with information about the services DPBHS already have available to help children with mental health and behavior issues.

The Summit was the perfect setting to honor Delaware Family Voices’ 2014 Volunteer of the Year award winner, Trina Cale-Rosario. Trina is a dedicated volunteer to Delaware Family Voices, assisting us in helping families across Delaware.

Volunteers

 

Trina not only is a key member of our Family Leadership Advisory Council, she also volunteers at many community events on behalf of Delaware Family Voices, and she is a trained Support Parent for our Parent to Parent program. Great job Trina! A heart-felt thank you from Delaware Family Voices.

The Summit was the ideal venue for a collaborative brain storming and strategic planning session.

Children Behavior Issues

 

Summit attendees were divided into two separate work groups, each tasked with a different topic:

Group 1: What would be an effective vision, mission, and value statement for the Delaware Federation of Families Chapter?

Group 2: Effective parent and professional development and improving systems of care within the state of Delaware.

This interactive, collaborative portion of the Summit proved to be a most valuable experience, with very helpful take-aways that will further our efforts in supporting children with mental health and behavior issues.

Delaware Federation of Families

 

With the assistance of our facilitator, Diana Autin, Summit participants were actively engaged in their focus groups, working hard to develop ideas and strategies for creating the parent-run Delaware chapter of Federation of Families.

The Summit was a smashing success! The information received during the work groups has helped Delaware Family Voices develop a series of common interests and will be instrumental in the development of the infrastructure for the Delaware chapter of the Federation of Families. We are already well on the way to completing the chapter’s mission statement.

Thank You Everyone!

The Delaware Family Voices staff is very appreciative of everyone’s efforts and participation in the Creating A Common Vision Summit. Your participation was tantamount to the overall success of the Summit. As the families move forward with the development of the Delaware Federation of Families chapter, they now have a wealth of information from which to create the chapter.

Would you like to become involved with the Delaware chapter of Federation of Families? Please let us know! You can either leave a Comment below, or contact Wanda directly at snf@defv.org or (302) 669-3034.

A Very Special Thank You To SFN!

Delaware Family Voices would like to thank the Statewide Family Network Grant (SFN), who provided the funding for the Creating A Common Vision Summit. The Statewide Family Network Program is also made possible through the SFN grant via SAMHSA. The focus of this program is to assist families that have children with mental health and/or severe behavioral challenges to obtain resources and information. Another key component of this program is to assist these families with the creation of a parent run organization within Delaware, which in turn, led to the development and execution of the Creating a Common Vision Summit.


Be Heard! Disability Day is April 2nd!

March 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 is Delaware’s 7th Annual Disability Day in Legislative Hall

Are you the parent of a child with special needs? Do you have questions about disability services offered in Delaware? Do you want to know more about how the state can assist you and your child?

Would you like to talk with your state legislator about living with disabilities in Delaware, to help him better understand the needs of a person with disabilities?

Then you need to attend Delaware’s 7th annual Disability Day in Legislative Hall.

Disability Day Delaware

Disability Day at Legislative Hall is your opportunity to hear what the state can do for people with disabilities. It is also your opportunity to ask questions, and to discuss in greater detail the needs of people with disabilities living in Delaware.

The Disability Day Agenda

Disability Day attendees will learn more about the state’s current position in a wide range of topics relevant to people with disabilities.

  • Family Support Waiver
  • Dental Care Insurance
  • Community First Choice Option
  • Money Follows The Person
  • Personal Attendant Services Funding
  • Transition Coordinators
  • Source of Income Discrimination
  • Disability Law Program – Special Education Advocacy
  • Accessible Transportation
  • Building Infrastructures and Supports Needed to Phase Out the Issuance of Subminimum Wage Certification

Details about each agenda item can be found at 2013-2014 Legislative Priorities. These legislative priorities also make excellent talking points during conversations with state legislators.

Disability Day Event Details

When: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Time: 11:00 am to 3:30 am

Where: Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave, Dover Delaware

Note: You must provide a valid photo ID such as a driver’s license to enter Legislative Hall.

Questions about Disability Day? Call the DDC office at (302) 739 – 3333.

Schedule Your Legislative Appointments Now

Are you interested in talking with your Delaware legislator about disability issues? Schedule an appointment now for Disability day to discuss your top disability issues directly with your legislator.

Delaware events

You are highly encouraged to schedule appointments in advance to secure time on Disability Day with your legislator. These links can help you navigate through the process of how to contact your legislator and schedule an appointment:

Remember – Your Voice Does Matter!

Your legislators are ready and waiting to hear from you. Yes, your voice really does matter!

Delaware Disability Day 2014

Check Disability Day at Legislative Hall for additional information on Disability Day and Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council for other upcoming DDC meetings and events.

Hope to see you there!

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider Donating to our organization and help support Delaware families in need.

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Images:Delaware DDC and Bruno Buontempo via Flickr (Megaphone)


Partners in Policymaking – Making a Difference For Those With Disabilities

December 2, 2013

Are you the parent of a child with developmental disabilities, or a young adult with developmental disabilities?

Would you like to have an impact on public policies that could impact people with developmental disabilities? The opportunity to work side by side with State public policy makers to impart positive change?

Then you might want to consider the Partners in Policymaking program.

What is Partners in Policymaking?

The Partners in Policymaking is a program designed to give a voice to parents of children with developmental disabilities and young adults with developmental disabilities, empowering them to be a part of state-wide policy changes for people with disabilities. The program’s goal is to teach these parents and self-advocates the power of advocacy, and change the way people with disabilities are supported, viewed, taught, live and work.

Partners in Policy Making

Through the Leadership Training Program, Partners learn to become community leaders, and to work side by side with State public policy makers. Partners are provided with up-to-date information, education, and the skills necessary to help make change in public policy relative to the people who need and use disabilities services.

Check out the Partners in Policymaking Brochure for additional details.

NOTE – Applications to participate in the 2014 Partners in Policymaking are due by Friday, December 20, 2013.

Who are the Partners?

Partners in Policymaking are typically parents of children with developmental disabilities or young adults who have developmental disabilities. Each year Partners are selected to participate in the program through an application process.

Families with Disabilities

There is no fee to become a Partner in Policymaking. Additionally, the program pays for participants’ lodging and meals as well as other related expenses, while attending training sessions.

What Are the Expectations of Partners?

The goal of the Partners in Policymaking program is to learn information, strategies and skills to help further state public policies that affect people with disabilities.

Partners are expected to attend each of the eight two-day training sessions. Sessions are held monthly from February through September, and run from noon Friday until later Saturday afternoon.

Topics of discussion include:

  • History of Disability Movements
  • Inclusive Education
  • Community Supports and Supported Employment
  • Vision for Future and the Planning Process
  • Assistive Technology
  • Local, State and Federal Policy and Legislative Issues
  • How to Meet Public Officials and give Legislative Testimony
  • Community Organizing
  • Working with the Media
  • Holding Effective Meetings

For more information about Partners in Policymaking in Delaware, contact the Developmental Disabilities Council at 302-739-3333.

Delaware DDC

Ready to Be a Partner in Policymaking?

Partners in Policymaking are ready to take a stand and help implement change for those with developmental disabilities.

Are you ready to become a Partner? Download the 2014 Application for Participation and submit your application today.

NOTE – Applications are due by Friday, December 20, 2013.


Support The Disability Treaty – A Call To Action

November 3, 2013

You can make a difference! Help support the Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities, also known as the Disability Treaty.

Encourage your senators to VOTE YES to ratify the Disability Treaty (CRPD) on Tuesday, November 5th. The ratification of the Treaty will allow the United States to continue in it’s global leadership on disability rights.

Disabiliites

What is the Disability Treaty and CRPD?

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international disability treaty that was inspired by the U.S. to recognize the rights of people with disabilities. It is the framework for creating legislation and policies around the world that fully support and embrace the rights of all people with disabilities.

The CRPD was based off the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which safeguards the right for independence and respect, along with the concept of reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

The United States signed the CRPD in 2009, but in December of 2012, the ratification of the CRPD fell short by five votes. It is back again with strong commitment by the CRPD’s Senate leaders to achieve ratification in the 113th Congress.

We need our Senators to fight for the 57.8 million Americans with disabilities and the 5.5 million disable American veterans, as well as the one billion people with disabilities around the world.  We need to have CRPD ratified this year.

Learn more about the Disability Treaty and why it’s important for everyone.

How Can You Help?

To achieve ratification, they need your support! Go to Disability Treaty for an easy to use call to action center, where you will find the tools you need to call and write letters to your senator.

Don’t forget to also sign a petition in support of the treaty.

It’s not too late! Now is the time to write your letters in support of the treaty and send them to the Foreign Relations Committee. The vote is on Tuesday, November 5th! 

CRPD


Join The Effort – Speak Now For Kids Family Advocacy Day

March 26, 2013

Do you have a child receiving health care at a children’s hospital? Would you like to let your congressional representatives know just about how important your children’s hospital is in the care of your child? Have your voice heard! Attend the Speak Now For Kids Advocacy Day this June.

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Speak Now For Kids Family Advocacy Day

On June 19th and 20th, patients and families from children’s hospitals across the United States will gather in Washington DC for the ninth annual Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day.

Join other families and children’s hospital representatives as they meet with our country’s lawmakers with the like-minded goal to advocate for and raise awareness of children’s health issues.

This is your opportunity to tell your congressmen and women how important your children’s hospital is for you and your family. Families attending the Speak Now event will have the opportunity to share their stories with legislators and the media, and to discuss just how important children’s hospitals are to all children.

See what families who attended last year’s event had to say.

Speak Now For Kids Event Highlights

Speak Now for Kids opens on Wednesday, June 19 with a jam-packed day of fun activities, interaction with the local media and educational meetings to prepare families for their day on Capital Hill. Top off the day with a celebratory dinner, complete with music and family friendly activities sure to keep the kids entertained. Mingle and meet other like-minded families while enjoying a relaxing night of food and fun.

Thursday morning, June 20, families and hospital representatives will head to Capital Hill to meet with legislators and their staff. This will be everyone’s opportunity to share their own stories, and to let legislators know the importance of quality child health care. Lunch will be served in one of the Senate Office Building.

For complete Advocacy Day program details, go to 2013 Children’s Hospital Association Speak Now For Kids Advocacy Day, where you will find hotel and travel information, schedule of events and links to registration forms.

Speak Now Is Your Opportunity To Be Heard

Are you interested in attending the Speak Now for Kids Advocacy Day? Registration for the event is now open. Families interested in participating should contact their children’s hospital and ask to be connected with the hospital department that handles federal affairs. You can also call Speak Now directly at 703-797-6011.

All registration materials must be submitted no later than April 5, 2013.

Learn more about the Speak Now For Kids Advocacy Day and how you can join this effort.

“Nobody can tell the stories of children’s hospitals better than those who serve and are served by children’s hospitals.”

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Speak Now is an event sponsored by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals And Related Institutions (NACHRI) and the National Association of Children’s Hospitals (NACH), a part of the Children’s Hospital Association.

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider donating to our organization via United Way #12691.