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Letter from the Director's Desk...

The Center for Exceptional Families grew in 2022! We added two new staff members, one to serve the Northwest/River Valley region and one to connect to our families in the Delta. Both new staff members come to TCFEF with a wealth of knowledge and experience in disability-related issues. The Center for Exceptional Families also gained several new board members to lead us in providing statewide representation as is required for our federal grant program. All good things! We are excited to continue moving TCFEF forward on a path that will help us meet the needs of families affected by disabilities and the leaders in special education who work with them. The Center for Exceptional Families extends our good wishes to you and your family that the year 2023 will be a great year for those you love.

-Shelby Knight

Shelby is the parent of a child with a disability and has more than 20 years of experience working in the parent center field. To learn more about her background and experience, click below.

Learn More


January 23rd - School Choice Event at the LR Convention Center. Click Here.

January 31st - Supporting Infants and Children: What you Need to Know about Hearing Loss. Click Here

February 10th - Cabot Night to Shine. Prom for teens with disabilities ages 14 and older. Click Here

February 11th - Creating Lives We Love Workshop for Parents and Professionals in Texarkana. Click Here

February 18th - BowlAbility in Russellville. Open to individuals with disabilities of all ages and their caregivers. Click Here

Various Dates: Community Connection hosts different disability friend social events year round for all ages in different cities. Click Here

To keep up with TCFEF events, Click Here to check out our calendar!

Early Child Family Resources Social Media Campaign!

In partnership with the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), TCFEF and many other state non profits will be working together to spread awareness about Early Childhood(EC) and Early Intervention (EI). Look for the #ECFamResources on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social medias over the next year to see tons of information!

What is the Center for Exceptional Families?

We are a non profit made up of mentors, parents, and advocates who strive for positive outcomes for those with disabilities, including their families. Some of the services we provide are:

Knowledgeable Parent Mentors
Our mentors are parents of children with disabilities. They have life and work experiences plus training that make them uniquely qualified to help parents and schools work together to improve outcomes for children with disabilities.

We provide information for caregivers of children with disabilities like resources, presentations, workshops, and other materials. We also connect with schools and other community organizations.

Family Fun
TCFEF is proud to present Sensory Cinema in Jonesboro, which allows caregivers, children and adults with disabilities to watch movies in a sensory friendly environment. We hope to expand this program to more cities.

News from your parent mentors!

New Learning Management System

IFTW needs you! The Independent Futures That Work (IFTW) project is preparing to launch a Learning Management System (LMS) providing various topics on transitioning to independent living, learning, and working.

IFTW would like to include short videos of individuals from each Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) participating in the project. To be considered as a nominee, we ask that you and/or your child be in the process of transitioning from high school to independent living, learning, or working. Please CLICK HERE to save the form to your computer. Complete and submit it as an attachment to: 


Thanks for your consideration and participation in this effort. Let’s represent Arkansas well!-Karen Lutrick, SW and Central Region

Inclusive Practices

Parents, are you aware of all of the educational initiatives our state has endorsed and have invested in to help your child?

If not, please ask your child's teacher or local education authority (LEA) about Inclusive Practices and how they are being implemented to help your child be successful!

If you have any questions, don't fear, TCFEF is here to help you understand Inclusive Practices and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

CLICK HERE to learn about Arkansas's Inclusive Practices

-Teresa Hendrix, Northeast Region

Children's Dental Health Month is February!

The American Dental Association is leading Children's Dental Health Month for 2023. Check out their website for information, posters, and printable kid's activities by CLICKING HERE.

Learn more about Dental Health Care for Children with Disabilities by CLICKING HERE and CLICKING HERE

-Loreena Hegenbart, North Central Region

New Beginnings

When I became a teacher, I started my very first job in a January in a special education classroom. It was a new year and a whole new chapter in my life. My first time in my own classroom, my first time writing an IEP, my first time developing behavior plans and the list goes on and on. I had so much to learn, was completely overwhelmed, and cried several times but thankfully I had a group of teachers there to support and help me. I know many of you may face “new beginnings” this year, whether as a teacher or parent. It is okay to be overwhelmed, confused, and upset during these times. The Center for Exceptional Families is here to listen, help and support you as you navigate this new chapter. Together we can help you get through these “new beginnings”.

-Katrinka Sullivan, NW and River Valley Region

February 6-10th is Feeding Tube Awareness Week!

Did you know it is possible to eat while you sleep? I always joke that it is my son's superpower. My son received a feeding tube before the age of 2. There was a time when he was on two different pumps feeding 24hrs a day. He is now 7 years old and still has a feeding tube, but it is used to keep him stable as needed. When my son was diagnosed with Autism, we learned quickly how much the digestive system and Autism are linked together. We knew right away how important it was for him to receive therapy. Each therapy has gone hand in hand and with all his hard work, he has made such great progress. Feeding therapy has been helpful but is a process. Just don’t forget that many diagnoses can be linked together. Once you get the whole picture you can see what will work best to overcome the challenges. Although it can seem like an uphill battle most of the time, don't ever give up. -Delta Parent Mentor

Parent Mentor Bios

TCFEF Events!

Join us and Texas PRN!

February 11th from 9:30-3:00

Texarkana, TX


Free Vendor Sign Up

PDF Flyer

Awareness in January/February

Martin Luther King Jr Day

Martin Luther King Jr Day was celebrated on January 16, 2023. He was a minister, activist, and prominest leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Click Here to read more about him and his work.

Black History Month

In February, Black history month highlights the struggles and achievements of black people in history. Click Here to read about famous black people with disabilities and Click Here to read about black disability rights activists!

Medicaid Resources

During the public health emergency, federal funds were sent to states to allow Medicaid clients whose cases would have been closed, to stay open. As the public health emergency winds down, Medicaid will begin renewals and processing these cases. Click the button to go to the new Medicaid portal to ensure your information is up to date so you can be prepared!

Medicaid Portal

Board Member Spotlight

Bethany Rice is an elementary school educator with years of experience teaching and advocating for students with disabilities. She is also the mother of four children, two of who are neurodivergent. Those different perspectives give her the ability to view advocacy from many sides of the table. Bethany and her family make their home in Hot Springs, in the South Central region of the state.

CLICK HERE to read board member bios and learn how to become one!

We want to hear from you!

Let us know about your disabililty event! We can spread the word in our newsletter and on social media! Email us


Want to request a topic or have an idea for our newsletter? Email us

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