Parent & Guardian Resources

SPECIAL EDUCATION PARENT ADVISORY COUNCIL (SE-PAC)

Dear Families,

The Cambridge Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) is an all-volunteer organization of parents and caregivers of students with disabilities in Cambridge Public Schools. Our mission is to work for understanding of, respect for, and support of all children with special needs in our community. Informal and facilitated gatherings give our diverse community the opportunity to share experiences, learn new information to empower you as your child’s most important advocate, and offer one another advice and encouragement.

We warmly welcome all families of students with disabilities in Cambridge to join us at our Family Dinner Nights, Sensory-Friendly Movies, Support Groups, and other activities. Online you can find us through our website, our Facebook Group, and on Twitter (@Cambridge_SEPAC).

If you aren’t sure how to connect, call SE-PAC Family Liaison Zuleka Queen-Postell at 617.593.4402, and she will tell you what’s coming up that might be a match for your needs.

We are looking forward to meeting you,

Cambridge SE-PAC Leadership

Contact Info
Website: http://cambridgepacse.org/
Karen Dobak, Co-Chair: 617.852.9227
Zuleka Queen-Postell, Special Education Liaison – Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC):
zqueen-postell@cpsd.us, 617.593.4402

CAMBRIDGE ADVANCED LEARNING ASSOCIATION (CALA)
CALA (Cambridge Advanced Learning Association) is a parent group for families of children with advanced learning needs. Whether your child needs greater challenge in one or more subjects; is a candidate for acceleration and/or enrichment; is twice exceptional and requires both additional challenge and additional scaffolding; or would benefit from socioemotional support and interactions with similar interest peers, our group is the place to start. At our meetings you have the opportunity to: 

  • Meet with other parents to share experiences and offer mutual support
  • Learn about district, school, and community initiatives to support advanced learners
  • Join our parents-only email list and Facebook group to ask questions and share resources
  • Share your perspective about issues affecting children with advanced learning needs in CPS

Contact Info
Website: http://cambridgeadvanced.org/
Vera Hoffman, Head of CALA
CambridgeALA@gmail.com

PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS
Help Finding Resources in Cambridge
Community Engagement Team Outreach Workers help Cambridge Public School families connect to school and community events and resources. Outreach Workers are from the Haitian, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Ethiopian, American-born Black, and Arabic and Spanish speaking communities of Cambridge. Please talk to your school’s family liaison or your child’s teacher if you would like an outreach worker to contact you.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Massachusetts (NAMI Mass)
The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass) is a nonprofit grassroots education, support and advocacy organization that is dedicated to building better lives for individuals and families affected by mental illness. Through their education programs, support programs and advocacy, NAMI is committed to improve the public’s awareness and understanding of mental illnesses; and advocate at all levels to ensure that all persons affected by mental illnesses receive, in a timely fashion, the services that they need and deserve.

For more information regarding NAMI Mass, please visit www.namimass.org

24-Hour Helpline:
Cambridge Emergency Services Team (ESP): 1.800.981.4357
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Hearing and Speech Impaired with TTY Equipment: 1.800.799.4889.

Bay Cove Human Service Groups
Two ongoing, free support groups are available for parents or guardians of students with disabilities. Facilitated by a Parent Partner from Bay Cove Human Services Parent Support Program, these groups offer safe space to ask questions and get support from other parents and families. To participate, please contact Zuleka Queen-Postell at zqueen-postell@cpsd.us or 617.593.4402.

Online Support Group for Cambridge Families
The Cambridge Parent Advisory Council on Special Education refers parents and families of Cambridge students with disabilities or suspected disabilities to a free, online support email group run by Cambridge families, for families. This confidential and families-only resource is a place to ask questions and seek advice from other parents/guardians of Cambridge students. To sign up for this privately run email listserv, contact the list moderator Maureen Manning at mo.maureenmanning@gmail.com.

Federation for Children with Special Needs
The Federation for Children with Special Needs provides information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities. They are committed to listening to and learning from families, and encouraging full participation in community life by all people, especially those with disabilities. For more information, please visit www.fcsn.org.

The Council of Exceptional Children (CEC)
As a professional organization for special educators, CEC’s mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals with exceptionalities and their families. CEC has developed a list of resources to provide parents and caregivers with the evidence-based tools and information they’ll need to effectively advocate for their exceptional child and partner with professionals to provide special education services. Those resources can be located here: http://www.cec.sped.org/Tools-and-Resources/For-Families

Learning Disabilities of America (LDA)
Parents are often baffled by the problems presented by a child with learning disabilities. Often this “invisible disability” does not become obvious until a child reaches school age. Even then, difficulties may be subtle and hard to recognize. Below is a link to support families of students with learning disabilities: http://ldaamerica.org/parents/

Autism Speaks
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children in multiple communities has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is 30% higher than estimates from two years ago (2012). With the increase in the number of children identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder, early intervention and education is the key to their success. Autism Speaks is an organization that is committed to support families who have children and adult family members with autism. The link below provides many resources and useful information for families: http://www.autismspeaks.org/families-adults

Speech/Language Resources
According to the US Department of Education, approximately 21% of students ages 3-21 are eligible for special education due to a speech/language impairment or communication disorder.

Partners Resource Network: http://prntexas.org/
The Center for Speech Language Disorders: https://csld.org/

Cognitive and Developmental Disabilities Resources
Cognitive and developmental disabilities may be considered a low incidence disability, however, the needs of this group of children are great and their needs for support span the course of their lifetime.

Bridges for Kids: http://www.bridges4kids.org/Disabilities/CognitiveImpairment.html

Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress
A resource for Down Syndrome information, advocacy and rehabilitation: http://www.mdsc.org

Vocational Rehabilitation
The Vocational Rehabilitation Program assists individuals with disabilities to obtain and maintain employment. http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/consumer/disability-services/vocational-rehab/

U.S. Department of Education: Office of Special Education Programs
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html

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