Special Education Volunteer Advocates (SEVA)

Increasing the number of underserved families who can be provided with in-person support

Enhancing the capacity of SPAN Resource Parents to support families preparing for and at IEP meetings and building the knowledge and skills of families and youth to advocate on their own behalf to secure effective inclusion and transition to adult life

SEVA helps by:

  • Enhancing the capacity of SPAN Resource Parents to serve as volunteer supports for families in preparing for and at IEP meetings focused on inclusion and effective transition to adult life
  • Increasing the number of under-served families who can be provided with in-person support
  • Building the knowledge and skills of families and youth, particularly those facing the greatest challenges, to advocate on their own behalf to secure effective inclusion and transition to adult life

GOAL


SEVA will provide a means for systemic change by enhancing supports available to families seeking quality inclusion and effective transition services so children with disabilities can become more independent, productive, contributing, and included members of their community.

OBJECTIVES


With the support of trained parent volunteers at IEP and related meetings:

  • Parents can communicate more effectively with Child Study Team members because they have learned more effective communication strategies (skill development), they are more knowledgeable about special education rights and processes and research related to the positive impact of inclusive education and effective transition to adult life services (increase in knowledge), and their self-confidence and self-efficacy has been increased (capacity-building).
  • Parents and Child Study Team members learn strategies to “create agreement” and avoid or resolve conflict related to the IEP/special education services.

MAJOR ACTIVITIES


  1. Develop a curriculum, handouts, and activities with stakeholder input and feedback
  2. Recruit and train at least 2 classes of diverse parent volunteers in the first year and three classes each subsequent year
  3. Develop and use a marketing plan in multiple languages to inform families of services
  4. Develop and use protocols to assign trained volunteers to families
  5. Support volunteers as they support families
  6. Work with evaluator to measure processes and outcomes
  7. Develop a sustainability plan

Library

Resources & Materials

SPAN Resource Parent Comprehensive Training Series  |  SPAN Training for Resource Parents

SEVA Volunteer Advocate Outreach Flyer (English & Spanish)  |  SEVA Volunteer Advocate Outreach Flyer

SEVA (Special Education Volunteer Advocates) Logic Model  |  The Logic Model for the SEVA Project

What Our Families Say

SEVA is a Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service.” In ancient India, “seva” was believed to help one’s own growth and contribute to the improvement of the community. SEVA describes the actions that seek collective uplifting through the understanding of the needs of, and a genuine desire to uplift, others and are based on togetherness and integration. It is service infused with kindness and respect for those served. It is a fitting title for this project.  —Jeannette Mejias, Project Director

Contact Us


PROGRAM STAFF

Jeannette Mejias

SEVA Project Director

Michele Tyler

SEVA Family Engagement Facilitator & Administrative Coordinator

Lauren Agoratus

SEVA Curriculum Developer

Carolyn Hayer & Maria Docherty

PTI Co-Directors & SEVA Project Managers

Martha Brecher & Renay Zamloot

Project Consultants

SEVA is funded by New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities & US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (SPAN Resource Parent comprehensive training series)