SPAN The Bridge Newsletter pictorial graphic.  Your weekly access to SPAN news, resources and events.

May 29, 2024 | Issue 132 (View newsletter as webpage) Para leer este boletín en Español, haga clic aquí

Important News

Photo of the SPAN team at the SPAN Early Childhood Conference

The SPAN table at the Early Childhood Conference. Pictured L-R from SPAN are: Yvonne Robles, Donna Milanowycz, Allyson Mathews, Paulina Vargas and Kim Rivers.

SPAN Holds Inaugural Early Childhood Conference

SPAN Parent Advocacy Network held its inaugural in-person Early Childhood Conference on May 9 at the DCF Training Center in New Brunswick. More than 120 people attended.

This was an opportunity for New Jersey's Early Childhood families, professionals, volunteers, and some very special speakers, to come together to meet and learn from one another. Our engaging Keynote address covered infant and toddler mental health, delivered by Kaitlin Mulcahy, PhD, LPC, IMH-E®, Director Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University.

This set the stage for the remainder of the conference, which included breakout sessions on Inclusion in child care settings; Supporting all preschool children equitably for improved outcomes; Developmental monitoring and screening; Connecting the dots between autism screening, diagnosis and services; Early learning and assistive technology; Books, Balls & Blocks and roles within Child Care Resource and Referral agencies; Rights for children and families navigating the child welfare system; Advocacy & Creating your parent toolkit for change; Early Intervention; and Positive Solutions for Families for supporting positive social-emotional skills development.

We would like to thank our lunch sponsors: Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NJ and Robinowitz Education Center. We also appreciate our exhibitors: Helping Hands Family Professional Development Solutions, Marie H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf, NJ Department of Children and Families, NJ Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, The College of New Jersey, and The Newgrange School. Thank you to SPAN staff and volunteers, as well as the professionals at the DCF Training facility who were on hand to assist throughout the day.

Based on the participation and feedback, we are thrilled to announce that we will be offering this as an annual conference moving forward!

Image of SPAN's Deepa Srinivasavaradan

SPAN's Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, Deepa Srinivasavaradan addressing Conference attendees.


Summer Learning Institute logo

N.J. DOE Announces Summer Learning Institute 2024

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is hosting the 2nd Annual Summer Learning Institute 2024 (SLI 2024). This year's theme, "Progress through Partnership," will highlight the importance of collaboration and shared expertise in advancing educational practices and improving student outcomes. SPAN is one of 12 partner organizations presenting at the Institute, along with NJDOE staff.

SLI 2024, "Progress through Partnerships" supports positive change in New Jersey’s educational programs and services by bringing together diverse stakeholders to collaborate, innovate, and make a meaningful impact on teaching and learning.

Over 40 sessions will be offered for administrators, teachers, child study team members, families, and other stakeholders from July 8th through July 26th. Sessions will be held in person or virtually throughout the Learning Resource Network.

For more information and to register for the Summer Learning Institute, please click here.

Seneca Village Walking Tour graphic

Join Us for a Seneca Village, Central Park Walking Tour to Benefit SPAN!

Saturday, June 8, 2024

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

How and why does a community form, come together, thrive, and break apart in the course of 32 short years? What external forces had an impact on these families? What does it mean to us almost 200 years later?

These are just a few of the subjects we explore in this walking tour of Seneca Village, a thriving integrated community that existed on land that would become the western edge of Central Park between 1825-1857.

During this period in NYC history, this neighborhood, and the city as a whole, was at the very threshold of feeling the impact of the multiple historic, closely packed, monumental occurrences - The Commissioner's Grid Plan of 1811, the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, the abolition of slavery in NYS in 1827, the introduction of public fresh drinking water to city residents in 1842, the start of the Irish Potato famine in 1845, the change in voting laws in NYS in the 1820s, and finally, the founding of Central Park in 1853. The circumstances and people that came together during this period of rapid change would both contribute to the formation of Seneca Village, as well as it's destruction.

Today, we will walk through this history with a number of these families. We will learn how they lived, worshipped, earned a living, created families and friendships, and made an impact well beyond these 30 acres, and 32 years.

Come join us as we walk through history and meet these inspiring people.

A tax-deductible donation of $100 to SPAN is suggested to attend.

For more information and to join us, please click here.


The ABLE Youth Transition Toolkit

The ABLE Youth Transition Toolkit from the ABLE National Resource Center is a comprehensive resource designed to support young people with disabilities as they navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood. This toolkit provides practical guidance and actionable steps for individuals, families, and educators. By offering information, tools, and strategies tailored to the unique needs and goals of young people with disabilities, the ABLE Youth Transition Toolkit aims to empower them to achieve greater independence, self-determination, and success in all aspects of their lives. 

Find it here.

Upcoming Events

SPAN offers a variety of learning opportunities for families and the professionals who work with them.

Highlighted Event This Week

NJ Family Engagement Hub logo

Family Engagement: Summer Learning & Activities

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Via Zoom

Join us as we discuss the "summer slide" and share a variety of engaging summer activities for children of all ages! We will provide information to help families stem the summer slide with free and/or low-cost activities.

Let's keep the children learning while still having fun!

To register and attend, click here.

The N.J. Family Engagement Hub is a project of SPAN, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. To learn more, visit

See all of SPAN's upcoming events with details and registration links here 

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SPAN Youth Hub image

Navigating Confrontation Featuring Nursing Career Guide for People With Disabilities

Read our latest youth blog post, "Navigating Confrontation Featuring Nursing Career Guide for People With Disabilities," to learn the best methods for resolving conflict, understanding an opposing point of view, and how to keep calm during an argument.

To access the post, click here.

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