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California Department of Education, Special Education Division’s special project, California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT) is funded through a contract with the Napa County Office of Education. CalSTAT is partially funded from federal funds, State Grants #H027A080116A. Additional federal funds are provided from a federal competitively awarded State Personnel Development Grant to California (#H323A070011) provided from the U.S. Department of Education Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education act (IDEA). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U. S. Department of Education.
The Family Participation Fund (FPF) was developed to meet the need for fiscal resources to help encourage and support meaningful family/consumer involvement in local, regional, or statewide decision-making activities, events, and groups. The intent of this activity is to build partnerships that reflect the diversity of our population and that are aligned with state reform mandates and initiatives. Between 2000 and 2009, over 10,000 requests for financial support were funded.
The FPF is administered through the California Association of Family Empowerment Centers (CAFEC, online at www.cafec.org), which works as a center of information, technical assistance, and systems change advocacy for the statewide network of local FECs. FECs work directly with families of children with disabilities to provide family education and empowerment and regularly refer families they work with to the FPF when they show interest in participating as a member of an educational decision-making body.
Stipends were distributed in 33 of California's 58 counties in 2008-09.
FPF stipend recipients attended a variety of meeting types, including a broad assortment of advisory councils and committees. A majority of recipients participated in CAC meetings (52%), advisory bodies attached to Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs).
In addition to advisory council meetings, FPF stipend recipients attended a broad cross-section of education-related meetings.
|Community Advisory Council (CAC)||845||52%|
|District Advisory Council (DAC)||294||18%|
|English Learner Advisory Council (ELAC)||131||8%|
|Compensatory Education Advisory Council (CEAC)||59||3%|
|Special Education Multicultural Advisory Committee||45||3%|
|Other Board/Council Meeting||85||5%|
|Other Advising Body Meeting||31||2%|
As an additional grant activity encouraging regular utilization of the FPF, extensive outreach is conducted by family advocate agencies, such as CAFEC, regional FECs, and the five federally awarded Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs). Each partnering agency disseminates information within their catchment area on how families can participate in the educational system as an effective advocate and how the FPF can help support that effort. To ensure diversity in participation, outreach is conducted through a broad spectrum of avenues, such as: electronic newsletters, printed fliers, presentations at local meetings, and phone calls.
Another goal of the FPF is to increase awareness and build collaborative partnerships between special education and general education by encouraging family members of children with disabilities to join decision-making bodies focused on GE issues. Roughly one-third of stipends distributed are related to general education meetings.
|General Education||Special Education|
Recipients of FPF stipends are asked to complete a survey and submit it with their invoice. The survey collects demographics information and asks each recipient to repond to five items about their experience at the meeting they attended and if the stipend was adequate. Recipients are informed that survey responses have no bearing on stipend eligibility. 1,373 of the 1,653 stipend recipients completed this survey, and responses are summarized on page 3.
|I learned valuable, useful information at the meeting||4.6||4.5|
|The meeting will make a positive difference in the lives of children with disabilities||4.4||4.3|
|I felt that I was an effective participant at the meeting||4.4||4.2|
|I felt that other people at the meeting valued my participation||4.3||4.4|
|The financial support of attending the meeting met my needs||4.2||4.1|
Participants are asked to rate each of five items on a five-point scale from 1 (“disagree strongly”) to 5 (“agree strongly”).
The survey also collected demographics data on stipend recipients. Ethnic minorities and low-income families are often underrepresented in the membership of decision-making bodies. The FPF implements outreach activities targeting these underrepresented groups to encourage their participation.
|Native American||3||< 0.5%|
Representative comments in response to the following open-ended survey questions are summarized below.
"I explained to CAC [Community Advisory Committee for Special Education] for special education that the CAC should do more outreach in Chinese community, especially providing information to non-English speaking Chinese parents."
"I offered a discussion on talking to a child, not AT a child, and also to seek communication after hearing what a child in school shares."
"I influenced on the schools not providing service to our children, as stated on the IEP, the schools not being in compliance."
"We talked about transition services and how they should work. We parents let them know how the transition services are not working effectively for our students."
"I asked questions regarding a different kind of drug that adolescents use, on how I can prevent my children from using street drugs."
"Put agenda together for the CAC business meeting. Asked SELPA [Special Education Local Plan Area] to report on child care, CASEMIS [California Special Education Management Information System], MOE [Maintenance of Effort]."
"What practices we could integrate into our district that have been successful at other districts, including transition services, behaviors, use of technology, functional life skill programs, etc."
“Discussed issues related to policy, procedures, non-public agencies, budget issues regarding special education. Discussed issues related to the county autism program, the cost, and the negative funding for the intense program (lack of full funding).”
“We discussed the inequities in the student assignment and enrollment system for children in Special Education programs and suggestions about what should be changed”
"More stipends for parents with children with disabilities, so I can participate better."
"Provide more brochures and literature, especially in Chinese."
"Financial support for more training."
“Continual invites and emails on public hearings and any additional information and proposals.”
“This allows my continued participation--it is greatly appreciated!”