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WIHD LEND Program Recruiting Family Specialist Trainees

March 25th, 2015

Littman Krooks special needs

The Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) is recruiting leadership trainees for its Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) training program. Trainees will have the opportunity to develop the skills necessary for a career focused on helping children with special needs and their families.

The program includes three overview courses, clinical experience, and public policy and leadership activities, including community training and family advocacy. Trainees will have the opportunity to earn a certificate from New York Medical College in “Children with Special Health Care Needs.”

Trainees may be health and education professionals or graduate students, or parents or siblings of children or adults with disabilities. Trainees may have earned or be working toward a masters degree in a health or education discipline. A wide variety of disciplines are represented among the trainees, including child psychology, pediatrics, social work, health advocacy, nursing and law. Trainees may also be Family Specialists (parents or siblings of a person with a disability). Trainees should be able to participate in a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. program on Thursdays from September to May at the Westchester Institute for Human Development in Valhalla, New York.

If you are interested in this opportunity, you may learn more at this link to the WIHD website.


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Special Needs Expos

March 12th, 2015

special needs expos

Earlier this year, we interviewed Heather Rogoff Angstreich, Founder/Partner, Special Needs Expos about the upcoming year and events they are holding in 2015. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. Why did you create special needs expos? 

All I wanted to do was help other parents and children who were in my shoes. My son, (who is now 10 years old), was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old.  I attended a small special needs resource fair when he was first diagnosed and found it incredibly helpful.  I love helping people so, when I got laid off, I started Special Needs for Special Kids, a printed special needs resource guide that I distributed across Long Island. I met my partners (Scott and Jamie) through this publication; they became clients. They knew I started the publication because I wanted to help other parents who needed guidance and resources to navigate the world of special needs here in Long Island.  Scott suggested that I should take the publication to another level and we thought we would do a small resource fair at a local JCC to bring some special needs resources together for a one-time event.  Scott and Jamie were no strangers to the special needs community either; they had a close family member who inspired them to get involved.

  1. How did you begin this endeavor?

We looked for a venue to hold this little resource fair and ended up booking a much larger space at a local hotel.  We went from one end of the spectrum to the other and kept our fingers crossed that we would be able to fill the space. Our first expo was geared more towards children with special needs, but we did have resources that catered to the adult population too.  Our goal was to have each person that entered the doors to walk out with at least one piece of useful information that day. We estimated that 2500 to 3000 people walked through the doors that day.

  1. What locations are you expanding to in 2015? IMG_20140914_110443493_HDR

Long Island is our “flagship” expo and will be held on April 26th at the Long Island Hilton. The Special Needs Expo – Westchester will be back on November 8, 2015 at the Westchester Marriott and the Special Needs Expo – New Jersey (northern) will also be back on September 27, 2015 at the Glenpointe Marriott in Teaneck. We hope to expand to Philadelphia in 2016.

  1. How does your expo help educate people to advocate for themselves and their family members?

Our expos have a variety of special needs resources, products, services, presentations and demonstrations.  We want people to take advantage of all the exhibitors that have come out.  They are there to answer questions, give support and ideas.  If a person meets the right connection, it can change things for them and/or their loved one.

  1. What makes your expo different from other special needs resource fairs in the area?

Our expos are always free to attend and child-friendly (games and/or inflatables and face painting are provided at no cost to the attendee). We offer a wide variety of resources, presentations and demonstrations. We have a quiet room for those that might need to take a break, if they are too overwhelmed. We want to connect these amazing resources with the individuals, families, caregivers and professionals to help make the journey a little less difficult.  Our Long Island events have connected over 300 exhibitors to 5000 attendees in the last two years.  Westchester and NJ events are also growing and we have heard from many of our FB and website followers that the need is there for this service.

  1. How do can people find more info about your expos? How do vendors register for an exhibit?

We have a Facebook page: and our official website URL is is a tab for attendees to register and a separate one for exhibitors to register and receive more information.  To contact us directly, email us at or call us at 516-279-3727.


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Community Based Service Network To Serve Medicaid Beneficiaries in Westchester County

March 5th, 2015

The Neighborhood Network of New York (NNNY) is set to develop an innovative, community based service network for adults with autism, thanks to a grant from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The program will provide individualized services to clients, including remote support technology and community activities.

NNNY will launch a prototype of the program to serve Medicaid beneficiaries in Westchester County. In time, the organization will develop protocols to launch similar networks throughout the state.

The NNNY program is intended to provide greater independence and empowerment for adults with autism through supports within the community, including remote support in private apartments. The program will be more affordable than traditional models, while also providing services which are appropriate to the individual’s needs and more fully integrated into the larger community.

With a record 1 in 68 children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as of 2010, services like these will be essential in serving an unprecedented number of children with autism reaching adulthood. This transition often represents a challenge for people with autism and their families, as they leave the support of parents and the school system and struggle to identify appropriate supports within the adult service system. Traditional full service options, like group homes and day services, are expensive, and for many individuals with autism who do not need such a high level of staffing, unnecessarily restrictive. These traditional, segregated models may represent a stark contrast to the integration into the school community that the individual with autism previously experienced in school, where they were mandated by law to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment, together with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate.

The NNNY program will take a three-pronged approach. Individualized Living Services for All Levels of Need allows clients to live alone or with a roommate in apartment complexes where both clients and non-clients reside. Clients who need more support may live with a professional family. All NNNY homes will include Proprietary Remote Support Technology that can be used to monitor residents’ safety and provide real-time coaching. Finally, the Communiversity will provide lifelong learning, teaching job skills and life skills along with community and recreational activities.


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Special Education Waiver Proposal Threatens Student Services

March 2nd, 2015

By Marion Walsh, Esq. and Sandi Rosenbaum, Special Education Advocate

On March 4, 2015, between 6:30-8:00, the Lower Hudson Valley Special Education Advocacy Task Force will be holding a Policy Discussion Forum at the Arc of Westchester (The Gleeson-Israel Gateway Center, 265 Saw Mill River Road (9A), Hawthorne, NY), to discuss the Executive Budget and the proposed waiver of special education requirements.   This is an essential meeting to attend to understand the effect of the budget on special education services. grad_hat_books_crop

The Governor’s proposal for his executive budget contains a proposal to allow school districts, private schools, and BOCES to obtain a one-year waiver from following requirements or providing services which are mandated by New York law, but which are not required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.   Here are just some of the services and mandates that could be affected:

  • Autism requirements in 200.13 including parent counseling and training;
  • Minimum daily/weekly requirements for home and hospital instruction;
  • Notice requirements for CSE;
  • Special Education Consultant Teachers required to have access to general education teachers to participate in instructional planning;
  • IEP must include the name of the school and whether it is BOCES, public, or private;
  • Evaluation AND implementation within 60 school days – Federal law has only an evaluation time frame, implementation “ASAP”; and
  • Evaluation team must include members with relevant credentials – Federal law doesn’t require a multidisciplinary team

The Governor is proposing this for mandate relief, as well as to enable school districts to implement innovative programs.   But there could be a significant loss of services to students.

The Governor and Board of Regents are selling this as allowing Districts to apply for waivers so that the District can implement an innovative special education program that is consistent with federal law, in order to enhance student achievement.  The District, before initiating a proposal for a waiver, would have to provide notice to parents in the District and obtain input before applying for the waiver with the New York State Education Commissioner.

The proposed provision expands existing opportunities for districts to seek waivers from NYS requirements that exceed those of the Federal IDEA, subject to notifying all affected parents and providing them a 60 day comment period, which comments would be submitted as part of the waiver application.  One downside is that only currently affected parents need be notified; since special education programs and placements are fluid, the parent of a student who has benefited from the affected program in the past, or may in the future, would not even be notified that the district received a waiver to deviate from state law in certain respects.

The proposed provision actually expands existing, though little-used, opportunities for Districts to seek waivers from the Commissioner for the purpose of enhancing student achievement and opportunities for placement in general education settings.  There has been an opportunity in place for some time for Districts to seek waivers to offer innovative special education models outside the defined continuum of service.  Any such program which has a waiver granted for three consecutive years may be granted a permanent waiver.

Become educated on this issue and contact your state legislators as soon as possible, as valuable services could be at risk.


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