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My Question is Regarding...

Special Education Help/Resources | Getting Involved in My Child's Education |
Health Care/Health Insurance | Networking with Other Parents in My Situation | Recreational and Social Opportunities | Becoming a Parent Leader in Special Education

Special Education Help/Resources

How can I get information about special education services?
Call the Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) at the Federation, 617-236-7210, or email us at We answer more than 6,000 calls and emails annually from professionals and families of children with special needs. Check out our website:

How can I find a special education advocate?
To obtain the names of advocates who may be able to work with you, call the Federation’s special education call center at 617-236-7210. A special education advocate (also called a “parent consultant”) is someone who empowers families by helping them to understand the special education process and their rights and responsibilities under federal and state law. The Federation maintains a database of advocates who have completed the Federation’s advocacy training. To learn more, see our advocacy website:

Is there a workshop on special education topics near me?
Yes, the Federation offers free workshops on a wide variety of special education topics. Check them out on our website:

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Getting Involved in my Child's Education

How can I be involved in my children’s education and school?
When parents are involved in their children’s education, children and schools benefit. There are many ways for parents to become in engaged in their child’s learning both at home and at school. Explore the For Families section of the Mass PIRC Web site to learn more.

Is my child eligible for free tutoring (Supplemental Educational Services)?
Your child may be eligible for free academic support if he or she receives free or reduced lunch and attends a Title I school that has been "in need of improvement" for two or more years in a row. Read the Mass PIRC Pointers on Supplemental Educational Services to learn how to find out if your child is eligible and how to apply.

What is MCAS and how does it affect my child?
MCAS stands for Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. MCAS is a series of tests that measures how fully students have mastered the state’s core academic subject area standards. Since MCAS tests are based directly on the learning standards, students are tested—or assessed—on what they are taught. Read about the learning standards and how why MCAS tests are important for your child in the Education in Massachusetts section of the Mass PIRC Web site.

What supports and services are available for students who are learning English for the first time?
English language learners (ELLs), also referred to as Limited English Proficient or LEP students, are students whose native language is not English and who are not yet able to do ordinary classroom work in English. Each school district must be able to identify whether or not a student is an English language learner. Once a district identifies students as English language learners, it must arrange for them to receive instruction that is designed specifically for learning English and subject matter content in accordance with laws and regulations. Read the Mass PIRC Pointers about English language learners to find out about their educational rights and involvement in state assessments.

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Health Care/Health Insurance

We are a two-income family, and we have employer-sponsored health insurance, but are having trouble paying the bills for our child with complex health needs. Are we eligible for MassHealth?
Yes. Even if you have employer-sponsored health insurance, a MassHealth program may be a cost effective way to bridge the financial gap between what your employer’s health plan pays and your out of pocket costs for deductibles and co-payments. There are many different MassHealth programs. Eligibility for a particular program depends on family size and income, citizenship status, and disability status of a family member. The Massachusetts Family-to-Family Health Information Center provides free confidential assistance about eligibility, application, and cost, if any, for Masshealth. Call the Center at 1-800-331-0688, ext. 210 or e-mail for assistance or visit

I want to learn more about health care systems, services and supports for families raising children and youth with special health care needs, but it’s difficult for me to get out to conferences, workshops and other events. Are there other ways I can participate in learning and networking opportunities?
The Massachusetts Family-to-Family Health Information Center hosts topical conference calls as an alternative learning and networking forum. The Center provides a toll-free number and you can call in at the time of the call. Calls are also recorded so you can listen to the playback, free of charge, at your convenience. Visit the list of past calls, and see the schedule for upcoming calls at

How can I connect with other families raising children and youth with special health care needs?
The Mass Family Voices project hosts a listserv. This is a way to use a single Internet e-mail address to send e-mail to and receive e-mail from many other people who share a common interest. The Mass Family Voices listserv is a forum where families raising children and youth with special health care needs can share information and resources, post questions and learn from each other’s experiences and expertise. Subscription is free and confidential. Learn more at

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Networking with Other Parents in My Situation

I don’t know who truly understands all that I’m feeling, as the parent of a child with complex medical needs. Who can help?
The Family TIES Parent-to-Parent Program helps to connect parents of children with all types of special needs with trained volunteer parents who are facing similar challenges. By speaking together, each feels supported and realizes they are not alone.

Is there more for my child’s life than medical and educational needs – what kinds of opportunities are there for children with special needs, when it comes to making friends and having fun? 
Family TIES Regional Coordinators offer information and referral services to families on a wide variety of topics, including recreation and social opportunities.

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Recreational and Social Opportunities

My child was recently diagnosed with a rare medical condition. How can I find someone else with the same condition? 
Family TIES Regional Coordinators can help parents to make contact with national and statewide condition-specific groups, local support groups, and our Parent-to-Parent Program.

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Becoming a Parent Leader in Special Education

How can I become a parent leader in special education?
MassPAC at the Federation for Children with Special Needs is the statewide organization providing information, training, and networking opportunities to Massachusetts special education parent advisory councils (PACs) and the professionals who collaborate with them. Learn more at

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