CESA 9 Family Engagement News

The Wisconsin Statewide Parent Educator Initiative turned 15 this year. I have been fortunate to be part of the initiative since it was launched by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in July of 2000. The first paragraph of the bulletin announcing the initiative states:
“Increasing the involvement of parents in the education of their children is a national goal in both general and special education. The Goals 2000: Educate America Actstates that “every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional and academic growth of children.” The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)Amendments of 1997 strengthen the role of parents of children with disabilities and ensure that families have meaningful opportunities to participate in their children’s education. Behind these federal laws is a gradual but major paradigm shift in improving educational results for children: parents and families are pivotal to children’s learning and must be partners with schools in educational decision making.”

While the purpose of our work has not changed over the past decade and a half the way we do it has evolved with the times. Paper newsletters, fliers, brochures and other publications are available electronically. A WSPEI web page located on the WDPI web site became the WSPEI web site. Quarterly video conferences available at specified locations around the state are now available to anyone with access to the internet via webinars.
Efforts to train parents so every district in the state has a district parent liaison is now a two day program offered in every CESA to parents nominated by district special education directors. This program provides the school district and parent with guidance on the potential roles of the district liaison, and also provides support and training throughout the partnership. The training is free of charge and open to anyone with an interest in family-school partnerships. In CESA 9 our two days of training are scheduled for Tuesday January 12, 2016, and Tuesday March 8, 2016. The training content and links to individual modules are available on the WSPEI web site at http://wspei.org/training/district-liaison-program.php 

Through the years there has been an increased emphasis on family involvement in other statewide systems change initiatives. Since the 2013 – 2014 school year WSPEI has partnered with the Wisconsin Transition Improvement Grant to offer workshops in each CESA region on post high school options.  The first year we held it at CESA 9, the second year we held it in a CESA 9 school district. Both years the focus was on employment options for youth with disabilities. This year we are broadening the scope and doing a series of three webinars. The topics will be as follows: Wednesday February 17, 2016 - Transition; Tuesday March 15, 2016 - Employment; and Wednesday April 20, 2016 - Post Secondary Education. The webinars will last one hour and run from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. Links to register will be available in December.

Starting December 4, 2015 I will be offering a monthly resource review interactive webinar. They will be the first Friday of each month from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. Join me Friday December 4th for a virtual tour of the WSPEI web site. You can use this link to join the webinar https://zoom.us/j/4821257730 Or join by phone: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll) Meeting ID: 482 125 7730 Please feel free to share. 2016 dates are January 8th, February 5th, March 4th, April 1st and May 6th. I will post topics for each when they are confirmed. Your suggestions are welcome.

You can contact me at 715-820-1667 or eazbell@cesa9.org with any questions about the district liaison program, the WTIG/WSPEI webinar series or the monthly resource review webinars.

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