All posts by Sherri

Fostering Inclusive Volunteering and Service Learning

Fostering Inclusive Volunteering and Service Learning is a guide for youth service professionals and others interested in facilitating youth engagement in volunteer activities. It describes how youth benefit from volunteering, different types of volunteer opportunities, and ways to assist youth to prepare for, access, and learn from their experiences. For all individuals to access and benefit from volunteering, the widespread practice of inclusion is key. An inclusive service environment actively fosters the engagement of all youth, including youth with disabilities, those involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems, and other disconnected youth. The guide also provides relevant resources and tools that can enhance and foster successful outcomes.


Top Ten Summer Activities for Kids with Special Needs

Summer can be a challenging time for children with special needs and their parents. Many families face a decrease in school and therapeutic hours. This may leave parents with extra time to fill during the day. Parents are also on alert as children with behavioral or social skill challenges encounter bullies or controlling peers at parks. A trip to a recreational center may seem like an easy answer for some families, but not always the most accommodating for a child with physical disabilities or special needs.

As a result, created a list of ten summer activities to do with your child that don’t require weeks of planning, a small loan or traveling further than your backyard.

Top Ten Summer Activities for Kids with Special Needs

10 Tips for Ending the School Year

by Pat Howey, Advocate

  1. Visit the new school or classroom.

Will your child make a major transition next fall? Will your child be moving from preschool to kindergarten, from elementary to middle school, or from middle school to high school? Plan to take your child to visit the new school or classroom before the first day of school.

  1. Review your child’s IEP and progress.

Did your child make progress this school year? Did the school properly implement the IEP? Does the IEP adequately address your child’s needs? Do your child’s Goals prepare your child for further education, employment, and independent living?

  1. Ask for an IEP Team Meeting if necessary.

Did you answer “No” to any of the questions above? Ask for an IEP Team Meeting to resolve these concerns. Do not let another year go by with an inappropriate IEP.

  1. Prepare for the IEP Team Meeting.

Prepare a list of your child’s present levels of performance. The list includes you child’s strengths and the areas that are challenging. Look carefully at this list and you will better understand what your child needs. Add these needs to your list of present levels of performance. You can also add Goals, Related Services, Assistive Technology, and anything else that your list justifies as an educational need.

  1. Say “Thank You” to those who helped.

Did your child have a great school year? Was this success due to a wonderful teacher, a helpful classroom aide, or a thoughtful bus driver? Say “thank you” to those who helped your child succeed. Look at what made this a good year for your child. Add that information to the list of your child’s present levels of performance.

  1. Give your information list to the IEP Team before the meeting. 

Do not surprise other members of the IEP Team. At least one week before the meeting, give a copy of your list to each member of the IEP Team. Take extra copies to the meeting for anyone who forgets to bring their copy. Your IEP Team Meeting will go faster and smoother if everyone has your list ahead of time.

  1. Ask for a copy of any information that has been given to other members of the IEP Team.

You do not want to be surprised. Ask for copies of all information the IEP Team will discuss. You cannot be a full team member if you are left out of the loop. Ask for things like copies of teacher reports, evaluation reports, and group achievement testing.


  1. Ask the IEP Team to address Extended School Year (ESY).

ESY Ask the IEP Team to address ESY early in the second semester. If there is disagreement about whether your child needs an ESY, you will need enough time to resolve this with one of the due process procedures available.

  1. Find out what summer educational resources are available for your child.

An ESY is not the same as summer school. Summer School is usually a generic program that is not designed to meet your child’s individual needs. An ESY program is intended to meet the specific educational needs of your child as identified in his or her IEP. Make sure you know what services the school is offering!

  1. Determine whether your child needs a new evaluation.

Does your child need new evaluations? Are you unsure whether your child has made adequate progress? Achievement testing at the beginning and end of every year will give objective answers about your child’s progress. (See Chapter 8, Your Child’s Evaluation, in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition).

Nebraska Public Schools, Technical Assistance Document on Extended School Year (ESY)

Nebraska Public Schools are committed to providing all children with disabilities a Free Appropriate Public Education. With that commitment in mind, this Technical Assistance (TA) document was developed to serve as a guide for parents and educators across the state to assist them in making decisions regarding the provisions for extended school year services.

NDE Extended School Year (ESY) Services Nebraska Department of Education

Omaha Gives!

PTI Nebraska is excited to announce that we will be participating in Omaha Gives on May 20, 2015. As Giving Tuesday reminds people to donate to their favorite charities, PTI would like you to mark your calendar for the metro area’s biggest day of giving. This will be our second time participating in Omaha Gives! and we are hoping for a record setting year for the 24-hour online giving event. We truly appreciate your continued support as we move forward with our mission to advocate for families of children with disabilities and special healthcare needs!


What Might ESY Services Look Like?

As noted earlier, ESY services are not necessarily a continuation of the same instructional program and related services the student receives during the normal school year as prescribed by his IEP. IEP teams have flexibility in determining what ESY services might be needed. For example, ESY services may take the form of teachers and parents working together by providing materials for home use with progress monitored by the teacher. Independent service providers or agencies – such as those used by the school district to provide supplemental educational services (SES) under Title I of No Child Left Behind — might be used to deliver ESY services, such as individualized reading instruction.

Once the IEP team agrees upon ESY services, specifics about those services, where the student will receive the services, and how his progress will be measured and reported should be included in the student’s IEP.

Action Tips for Parents

  • Obtain a copy of any ESY determination guidelines issued by your school district and/or state. Most states have policies or guidelines regarding ESY. These should be made available to you upon request. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines and ask questions. Contact your state’s Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center for additional assistance.
  • Don’t wait until late in the normal school year to discuss your child’s potential need for ESY services during the summer break. If necessary, request an IEP meeting specifically for the purpose of determining ESY eligibility for your child. Be sure to put this request in writing to the school principal or school district special education director and specify the purpose of the meeting. Make certain that important school personnel – those who know your child best – will attend the IEP team meeting.
  • List all of the factors you think should be taken into consideration when determining your child’s need for ESY services. Refer to the types of information listed earlier to help compile your list. Take your list to the IEP team meeting. Remember that the determination should be based on a broad range of factors and an array of information.

Ensuring Accommodations in Non-ESY Programs

Many parents take advantage of school offerings outside of the regular school year, such as summer school and enrichment programs. Parents may be required to pay an additional fee for such programs. While such programs aren’t ESY, schools are required by non-discrimination laws such as Section 504 to provide any accommodations a student with an IEP may need to fully participate in them. The student may need a Section 504 Plan to ensure that needed accommodations are provided.