January 2015

Sustaining Momentum: Improving Educational Stability for Youth in Foster Care

  • girl_looking_at_cameraThis report chronicles the efforts by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and its partners to improve educational outcomes for foster children since the passage of the landmark legislation Fostering Connections (2008) brought the plight of these students into the spotlight. Among the recommendations from the Foundation: increase awareness of the presence of these students in every classroom and their challenges to academic success, decrease changes to school placement that lead to achievement regression, and end the push-out and expulsions of children who are in flux in so many areas of their lives. The Foundation has made great strides in the last five years and is looking to the education and child welfare sectors to maintain and build on this momentum.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2014). Sustaining Momentum – Improving Educational Stability for Youth in Foster Care. Baltimore, MD: The Annie. E. Casey Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.aecf.org/resources/sustaining-momentum/.

Office of the Child Advocate Annual Report Fiscal Year 2014

  • This report from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Child Advocate Gail Garinger offers not only a year-end review of OCA investigations and critical incident reports, but also helpful hints for caregivers on important topics like trauma and brain development, safe sleep tips for infants, and improving psychopharmacology for children in DCF custody and all MassHealth kids. Recommendations for continuing this important work in the New Year are also included. Reference material and lists of contacts are appended.

Catching Kids Before They Fall: A Paradigm Shift that is Responsive to Trauma

  • teen-boy-aloneThis presentation, authored by former high school principal Jim Sporleder, is an eye-popping work describing trauma and the ACE study and how these impact classrooms and school systems. After laying this groundwork, Sporleder shows how his school began to look at behavior through a trauma lens and how the actions they took had a dramatic impact on attendance, learning, and discipline. Parents, administrators, teachers, and others may be surprised to learn that a single adult who cares deeply about a student’s success and well-being can change the direction of that child’s life.

US Policy Statement on Expulsions and Suspensions in Early Childhood Settings

  • Recent data indicate that expulsions and suspensions occur at high rates in preschool settings. Last month the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services issued recommendations for preventing and severely limiting these practices, which are associated with negative school and life outcomes. The Statement contains specific recommendations for managing discipline in early childhood programs, including ways to implement positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS) in early childhood settings. There are also resources for parents and families, schools and staff, and states.

Sesame Street Provides Toolkit to Help Children with Incarceration of Parents

  • Little Girl in ClassroomLittle Children, Big Challenges, a new project from the folks at Sesame Street, provides much-needed resources for families with young children (ages 3 – 8) as they encounter the difficult changes and transitions that come with the incarceration of a parent. The website provides links to videos, stories, and activities for little ones, as well as tips for parents and resources for providers and caregivers.


Vocational Technical Education Regulations – Notice of Public Comments

  • The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is soliciting public comment on proposed amendments to 603 CMR 4.00, Vocational Technical Education Regulations. Copies of the proposed amendments are available on the Department’s Laws and Regulations web site. The deadline for submission of public comment is Friday, January 16, 2015. The Board is expected to vote on the proposed amendments at its regular monthly meeting scheduled for February 24, 2015.
  • For information regarding vocational programs and students with disabilities: This report (July 2013) by Thomas Hehir, Shaun Dougherty, and Todd Grindal, of Thomas Hehir and Associates, details their findings on the degree to which students with disabilities are able to participate in Massachusetts career and technical education (CTE) programs.

Visions of Community 2015 – Register Now!

  • The Visions of Community 2015 Conference, sponsored by the Federation for Children with Special Needs, is an opportunity for you to attend your choice of workshops about special education, managing challenging behaviors, self-advocacy and transition to adult life, mental health services and supports, inclusion, fostering friendships, assistive technology, stress management for caregivers, and more.
  • At the Conference, the Federation presents Community Partnership Awards to individuals who have successfully promoted an inclusive environment in their community. Do you know a parent, student, teacher, administrator, SESP, healthcare provider, or other individual who has worked to create and support the inclusion of individuals with disabilities, those at-risk, or those who face cultural or linguistic barriers? Nominate a person who has made a difference for a Community Partnership Award! This year nominations for the 2015 Community Partnership Awards can be submitted online on the Federation’s website or by downloading a printable form.