January E-Perspective Newsletter
Office of Special Education Programs Conference in Washington, DC
By Helena Liedtke

When I was asked to write an article about the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Conference, I immediately knew what I wanted to write about. Many representatives and providers from all across the United States have asked a common question: "How do we engage parents to join the councils?"
I will attempt to answer the question from my experiences being a parent representative for the Massachusetts Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) for now 4 years.
As a parent representative I have been given the unique opportunity to not only learn, but to also expand my knowledge and keep up to date with changes in systems related to Early Intervention. I have been empowered to share my own personal experience and participate in the constant improvement of services provided to families caring for children with special needs.
Being a parent representative not only helps me to become a better advocate for my own daughter, but supports my efforts in providing support to other families like mine.
I have been invited to many amazing events, networking and meeting exceptional, inspirational people from 'my tribe', just simply people 'who get it'. To be honest, being a mom to a child with special needs is rewarding but not exactly like walking on rose petals. There are many moments where I feel deprived of energy.
Being invited to the OSEP conference was the latest of many of those empowering and re-energizing events. It felt like connecting with the collective - experiencing the energy of hundreds of like-minded people is priceless.
From the vast variety of offered workshops, to meeting and connecting with other parents and providers from different states in the US to exchange experiences and best practices, the conference aimed to improve services and consequently the quality of life of families throughout the nation.
I enjoyed professional conversations and the private moments with my valued fellow parent representative, Kristin Micalizzi [over THE best food I have ever had in my life in Downtown DC] exchanging the good and not so good life throws our way.
Although my legs may seem to give in at times, I know I am not alone. I can make a difference for our children - everybody can. I am grateful for having been reminded of that once again at the OSEP conference.
Conferencia de la Oficina de Programas de  Educación
Especial en Washington, DC
By Helena Liedtke

Cuando me pidieron que escriba un artículo sobre la Conferencia de la OSEP ( Office of Special Education Programs , Oficina de Programas de Educación Especial) supe de inmediato lo que quería contar. Muchos representantes y proveedores de todo el país tienen una pregunta en común: "¿Cómo hacemos para que los padres participen de los consejos?".
Intentaré responder esta pregunta desde mi experiencia como madre representante del ICC ( Interagency Coordinating Council, Consejo de Coordinación Interinstitucional) de Massachusetts desde hace ya 4 años.
Como madre representante he tenido la oportunidad única no solo de aprender sino también de ampliar mis conocimientos y mantenerme actualizada sobre los cambios en los sistemas relacionados con el programa de Intervención Temprana. Me siento capacitada para compartir mi experiencia personal y de participar en la constante mejora de los servicios que se les proveé a las familias a cargo del cuidado de niños con necesidades especiales.
Ser una madre representante no solo me ayuda a convertirme en una mejor defensora de mi propia hija, sino que también me ayuda a dar apoyo a otras familias como la mía. 

Me han invitado a muchos eventos increíbles donde conocí y me conecté con personas excepcionales e inspiradoras que pasan por lo mismo. Simplemente personas que me entienden. Honestamente, ser madre de un niño con necesidades especiales es algo gratificante pero no es nada fácil. En muchas ocasiones siento que me falta energía.
Estar invitada a la conferencia de la OSEP fue el último de muchos eventos fortalecedores y vigorizantes. Sentí que me estaba conectando con una gran hermandad. Experimentar la energía de cientos de personas con vidas similares a la mía no tiene precio.
Desde la gran variedad de talleres que ofrecían hasta la oportunidad de conocer y conectarme con otros padres y proveedores de diferentes estados del país para intercambiar experiencias y mejores prácticas, el objetivo de la conferencia era mejorar los servicios y, como consecuencia, la calidad de vida de familias de todo el país.
Disfruté las conversaciones profesionales y los momentos a solas con otra madre representante, mi apreciada Kristin Micalizzi (que hace la mejor comida en todo el centro de DC), con quien pude intercambiar las experiencias buenas y no tan buenas que nos presenta la vida.
Aunque a veces sienta que ya no puedo más, sé que no estoy sola. Puedo marcar una diferencia para nuestros hijos. Todos pueden hacerlo. Estoy agradecida porque la conferencia de la OSEP me recordó esto una vez más.
Family TIES 
of Massachusetts

What is Family TIES of Massachusetts?
Family TIES is a statewide information, referral and parent-to-parent support network for families of children (ages 0 to 22 years old) with special health needs, disabilities or chronic illness and their providers. Family TIES coordinators work in Department of Public Health regional offices across Massachusetts. Our Regional Coordinators are also called Parent Coordinators because they have children with special health needs. AND they are resource and information experts!
(Pictured from left to right: Sara Asmerom, Laura Noble, Gloria Klaesges, Barbara Donati, Debra Candeloro, Linda Surprenant. Not  pictured: Luanne Pike and our newest team member, Donna Chaplin)
Mission Statement
Family TIES is a program that provides information and training for families of children with special health needs or disability and their professional partners. We are a primary source for information about Early Intervention and maintain a complete listing of EI programs in MA. Driven and staffed by parents of children with special needs, we offer a unique type of emotional and practical support to families with similar life experiences.

FCSN Visions of Community 2018
The Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) annual conference for families of children with special needs and the professionals who serve them will be held on Saturday, March 10 th , 2018, at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.
The event will feature:
  • Workshops on topics such as: special education, assistive technology, insurance supports, early childhood, transition age youth, parent leadership, self-care, and more
  • Sessions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Arabic, and Somali
  • Exhibition hall featuring vendors and service providers from across Massachusetts
  • Valuable opportunities to network with other families and professionals
Learn more by visiting www.fcsn.org/voc
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#EIFact Approximately 53,000 children's lives have been touched by MA EI this year!

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The EI Parent Leadership Project (EIPLP) strives to develop an informed parent constituency, promote leadership and lifelong advocacy skills for parents and family members, facilitate family participation to ensure that Early Intervention Services are family-centered and support EI programs to identify, train and mentor families to take on roles across the EI and Early Childhood system. The Project is a parent driven endeavor, which continually seeks family involvement and input regarding the needs of families enrolled in Early Intervention and is staffed by parents whose own children have received EI services. The Project staff consists of a D irector, a Media Coordinator , a Statewide Monitoring Coordinator and a Statewide Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator.

To receive the Parent Perspective Newsletter, a free publication, published four times a year or the Parent E-Perspective published at least two times a year, by the Parent Leadership Project, call us toll-free at (877) 353-4757 and ask to be added to the PLP mailing list or email eiplp@live.com
NEXT DEADLINE : We welcome your input and suggestions for resources and articles. The next deadline is February 1, 2018 . Please call our toll-free number (877) 353-4757 or email the newsletter editor at kris.levine@state.ma.us .
The Parent Perspective newsletter is published by the Early Intervention Parent Leadership Project, through funding from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. If you would like to be removed from this mailing list, please contact eiplp@live.com.  
Early Intervention Parent Leadership Project | 877-355-4757 | eiplp@live.com  | www.eiplp.org