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NJ DOE Agrees to Settlement in Inclusion Lawsuit by SPAN, Others!

Nearly seven years after the lawsuit was filed, and more than five years since the District Court denied the State’s motion to dismiss, disability advocates entered into an historic settlementwith the New Jersey Department of Education to ensure that New Jersey students with disabilities receive an appropriate education in the “least restrictive environment.”  Plaintiffs in the lawsuit included Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ), the Education Law Center (ELC), the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) and the ARC of New Jersey.

Evidence for the benefits of making classes smaller

From National Education Policy Center (2/18/2014):  While a series of high-profile and often controversial school reforms has gotten the lion’s share of attention from policymakers over the last decade or two, one reform appears to have been consistently ignored and marginalized: reducing the size of classes.

Yet, as Professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach points out in a new policy brief released today, the evidence that class size reduction helps raise student achievement is strong.

SPAN is Helping Families Impacted by Superstorm Sandy

New Jersey's families faced many challenges due to Sandy.  In addition to the trauma of displacement or sheltering in place, families faced closed schools, economic hardship, and emotional trauma.  But families of children with special needs were disproportionately impacted by the storm and its aftermath.  Under its new SuperStorm Sandy Resiliency Project, SPAN now provides intensive assistance to families of children with special needs in the counties hit hardest by the storm:  Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union.

SPAN Family Resource

SPAN Celebrates 25 Years

On January 27th, SPAN celebrated its 25th year of serving families in New Jersey.  More than 100 partners and supporters joined in an evening of festivities at The Newark Club.  Not able to join us?  Enjoy photos from the event.  Check out the program and congratulatory messages from across the country.  Learn more about the celebration and about how you can support SPAN's mission for families in the next 25 years and beyond.

NJ-DDD Cash Option Respite Ended on Feb. 1

Alert!  The Cash Option (Self-Directed) Respite from the NJ Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities has been discontinued effective 2/1/14!  (Please note that respite provided under the Department of Children and Families is not affected by this change.)   The DDD website has the initial 12/23/13 notice and the 1/24/14 update at http://nj.gov/humanservices/ddd/home/.  Per DDD, “This does not mean that these services are being discontinued.”  It just means that families will no longer be reimbursed directly.

Expanded Medicaid Eligibility Comes to NJ!

Beginning January 2014, NJ FamilyCare - New Jersey's publicly funded health insurance program - includes the NJ Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid and Medicaid expansion populations. That means qualified NJ residents of any age may be eligible for free or low cost health insurance that covers doctor visits, prescriptions, vision, dental care, mental health and substance use services and even hospitalization.

If you are a NJ resident and you need more information on this program, please go to the NJ Family Care website, http://www.njfamilycare.org/default.aspx,  and see how

Still time to purchase health insurance!

There is still time to purchase affordable health coverage that provides essential health benefits on the NJ Health insurance exchange/marketplace! You can do it on line at https://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/individual/#state=new-jersey.  You can also get information or enroll using other options, such as the phone, on line chat, or in-person navigators.  Find out more at https://www.healthcare.gov/contact-us/ 

Webinar on US DoE School Discipline Guidance

The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), released on January 8th a school discipline guidance package that will assist states, districts and schools in developing solutions to enhance school climate, and improve school discipline policies and practices. While incidents of school violence have decreased overall, too many schools are still struggling to create positive, safe environments.

Nominations for NJ-CDD Community Building Awards

NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities is Now Accepting Nominations for its Community Building Awards.  Do you know an educator, community leader, disabilities advocate, or any other member of your community who has shown commitment to making our schools and our society  more inclusive and considerate of individuals with developmental disabilities?  If so, NJCDD wants to hear from you!   From now until February 14, 2014, nominate individuals or organizations who have gone above and beyond to promote inclusive values in New Jersey.  
Visit the Community Building Awards page to learn more

Five Tips to Keep Kids Learning During the Holidays

Holiday and winter breaks are just weeks away, and while students and teachers will get a well-deserved break from the classroom, it doesn’t mean children need to stop learning. Here are a few tips from the Department of Education to keep children’s minds sharp and challenged during their break, and it might just prevent cabin fever.  Read More >>>

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