exhibitor table

Register Today

2014 Information & Resource Conference
Saturday, March 22, 2014
8:30am - 3:30pm

John O'Connell High School
2355 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110



movie nights logo

Movie Nights this Spring at Support for Families

Friday, April 4, 2014
5:30pm - 7:30pm
"The Croods"

The Croods

Friday, May 16, 2014
5:30pm - 7:30pm
"Peter Pan" Peter Pan
Friday, June 13, 2014
5:30pm - 7:30pm
"Monsters University" Monsters University

Join us for a free family-friendly movie while munching on fresh-popped popcorn, pizza, and healthy snacks in our offices. Refreshments for kids and adults will be provided. Our playroom will open too!

To register call 415-920-5040


Winter Event Recap: Ice Skating Party was an Olympic-Sized Success!

Our annual Holiday Ice-Skating Party on December 21, 2013 at the Yerba Buena Ice Skating Rink was a major Olympic-sized success! Over 300 guests and 90 volunteers attended the event to skate on the ice with Santa, enjoy refreshments, and have fun with family and friends. One parent had this to say about the event:

I had brought my four year old son to the Union Square ice skating rink a few days before, but he was not interested in the setup and all of the people. However, when we went to the Holiday Ice Skating Party, he was so happy because of the volunteers that helped him on a metal chair and pushed him around on the ice. I’ve never seen him smile so much as he did on Saturday. It was his first time ever on the ice and it was an overall great experience. Thank you!

Thank you to our staff, volunteers, and attendees for an amazing time!

ice skating family

ice skating family 2

photos courtesy of Kevin Wong, SFCD Volunteer

Return to top

Covered California Enrollment Closes March 31

covered caAs of October 1, Covered California (our state’s health exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act, or ACA, or Obamacare) offers pre-enrollment in plans for individuals and families who are or will be uninsured. The ACA requires all individuals aged 18 and over who are legal residents to have health coverage that meets minimum federal standards. All Covered California plans meet these standards.

Before enrolling in plans under Covered California, families should first determine whether their children are eligible for Medi-Cal; the Covered California website will help them make this determination.

Families can browse plans, search for providers, compare costs and apply at the Covered California website at www.coveredca.com or by telephone at 800- 300-1506. Open enrollment closes on March 31, 2014. Enrollment assistance in multiple languages is available; check the Covered California website for information on local assisters.

Excerpt from the fact sheet, “Covered California and Children: What do Families and Professionals Need to Know?” by Family Voices of California (FVCA).

Go to the FVCA website for the entire fact sheet; it walks through Covered California and the questions you should ask before choosing a plan.

Return to top

All Together Now Inclusive Storytime

by Alexis Filippini, Ph.D., Inclusive Storytime Contractor

Young children wave brightly colored scarves and sway along with the librarian’s singsong storytelling at the Mis­sion Library Branch. In this comfortable, colorful room, children of all backgrounds are welcomed every day. However, every second Wednesday of the month something more happens: All Together Now Inclusive Storytime. The librarians spent nearly a year crafting this monthly program with support from the Special Needs Inclusion Project (SNIP, part of Support for Families of Children with Disabilities).

Respect and appreciation for differences are the building blocks this new program. Librarians have created a wel­coming and judgment-free environment for children ages 3-8 with a range of special needs, including autism spec­trum disorder, speech and language impairments, physi­cal/mobility limitations, and others.

“Remember, to enjoy storytime be safe, stay with your adult, participate, and have fun!” says the librarian at the beginning in English and in Spanish. These agreements are also posted clearly, along with pictures as visual supports, so that everyone knows what to expect. Just like all library storytimes, caregivers are asked to stay with their children to help them enjoy and participate in the stories, songs, and games. For children who need a little less stimulation, families can take a break in the “Cool Down Room” and play with toys or books before returning to participate in storytime.

Each child is provided with a carpet square or disco seat to help organize their bodies in space, and hands-on materials like colorful scarves, bean bags, and interactive big books. While all the children say “quack, quack, quack,” little Carla pulls a laminated duck from a large format Old McDonald book and giggles while she hands it to the librarian. The librarian encourages everyone to wiggle along with her rhymes, “however you are comfortable.” Some children shimmy in their seats, others move just a hand or a foot.

The physical space is accessible, with clear signs, and room for wheelchairs, standing, or sitting. The storytime content has been expanded to include themes of inclusion and friendship with more focus on pre-reading skills like rhyming and blending words. Librarians also reviewed all of their activities and adapted them to have a wider range of options for physical participation, and hands-on ways for children to participate to make abstract ideas more concrete.

librarians reading

Laura Tarango, SFPL Children's Librarian, and an ASL Translator

The project began when San Francisco Public Librarians Mary Ellen Massa, Laura Tarango, and Maricela Leon-Barrera came together with a dream of an event that all children would be welcomed at and able to enjoy. Inspired by a family that was searching for a welcoming environment, they wrote a compelling grant proposal and received funding from Bay Area Library Information System (BALIS) and partnered with Support for Families’ Special Needs Inclusion Project (SNIP) to develop the program. Support for Families’ participation in the partnership was funded by First 5 San Francisco. Thank you to all parties who have come together to make this dream a reality!

Details: Inclusive Storytime is specially designed to offer an opportunity to learn together in a safe and supportive environment for children ages 3-8 with varying learning styles and abilities. It takes place on the second Wednesday of the month from 10:15 – 11:45 in the Children’s room of the Mission Library at 300 Bartlett Street near 24th Street BART.

For more information visit www.sfpl.org or call 415- 355-5740.

Alexis Filippini, Ph.D. consults on literacy, school climate and inclusion (www.BuildingontheBest.com). She is also the associate dean of teaching and learning, K-8, at Bentley School in Oakland.


Return to top

Parent Mentor Program (PMP)

Parent Mentors are a vital resource for families looking for that additional support. Many families benefit from as­sistance they receive through a Parent Mentor, no matter how big or small the need.

The Parent Mentor Program is in its seventh year covering Special Education as part of its training. Starting in September and finishing in May, the eight month training (with December off) helps Parent Mentors get a better understanding of the special education system. Areas covered in this training include the IEP process, assessments, and understanding their rights under IDEA. Plenty of information and materials are provided to help Parent Mentors learn and educate themselves.

More importantly, training on “how” a Parent can mentor other families is covered in the extensive Parent-to-Parent training. The P2P provides helpful information in order to be responsive to families’ needs. The training includes accessing Support for Families as a resource, active listening techniques, and communication skills. This training is helpful to the Parent Mentors themselves as it provides them skills to work with families and professionals. This training occurs twice a year in both June and December.

In addition to mentoring families, Parent Mentors are active in the community by participating on Parent Panels, assisting in outreach events, and participating in interviews, such as media or student research papers.

Interested in becoming a Parent Mentor?
If you are interested in becoming a Parent Mentor through Support for Families, please contact us. We are already registering parents for the next P2P training in June, 2014. The next eight-month Special Education training series starts September, 2014. Contact us for information or to register!

Joan E. Selby (English)
415-282-7494, Ext. 113

JoAnna Van Brusselen (Spanish)
415-282-7494, Ext. 141,

Registration is required. Thank you.

Return to top

The Power of Parent Participaton

By Joe Goyos, Education Manager

advocacySupport for Families is committed to providing families with the information, resources and support they need to make informed choices for their children. We firmly believe that educated parents become empowered parents, empowered parents develop into engaged parents, and that engaged parents are best suited to partner with professionals to help their children reach their potential.

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) points out:

A mounting body of evidence supports the benefits of engaged families. The evidence is clear and consistent. When schools and families work together, student learning and outcomes improve. So do:

  1. children’s attitudes toward school,
  2. their social skills and behavior, and
  3. the likelihood that they will take more challenging classes and pass them.

This holds true across families of all economic, ethnic/racial, and educational backgrounds—and for students of all ages.

Given the power that family involvement has to influence how our children achieve in school and in life, it’s not surprising that the nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), strongly supports parents’ right to be involved in the special education their child receives. As IDEA states:

Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by… strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring that families … have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home.1

Below are some examples from Child Study Center, NYU Langone Medical Center of where and how you can get involved:

1) At home:

  1. Read to your child — reading aloud is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child's chance of reading success
  2. Discuss the books and stories you read to your child
  3. Help your child organize his/her time
  4. Limit television viewing on school nights
  5. Talk to your child regularly about what's going on in school
  6. Check homework every night

2) At school:
Meet with a teacher or other school staff member to determine where, when and how help is needed and where your interests fit in. Volunteer your time in the classroom when you can. Parents can:

  1. Be classroom helpers
  2. Tutor or read with individual children
  3. Help in special labs, such as computer or science
  4. Plan and accompany classes on field trips
  5. Assist coaches at sporting events
  6. Help out with arts and crafts workshops
  7. Assist with a special interest club or drama group
  8. Work as a library assistant; help with story time.2

3) And here is some specific advice from Support for Families for how to get involved in San Francisco:

  1. Join the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC): cacspedsf.org, 415-282-7494
  2. Join the Parent Advisory Council (PAC): pacsf.org, 415-355-2201
  3. Join Parents for Public Schools (PPS): ppssf.org, 415- 861-7077
  4. Participate in the Parent Teacher Groups (PTA/PTO/ PTSA) at your child’s school
  5. Join the School Site Council at your child's school: Every school has a School Site Council so call your child’s school for meeting dates and times. General info: sfusd.edu/en/councils-committees/school-site-council.html

1 From NICHCY article “Questions and Answers about IDEA: Parent Participation,” http://nichcy.org/schoolage/qa-series-on-idea/qa2#power.Reprinted with permission from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY).

2 Excerpt taken from “Involved parents: The hidden resource in their children's education” by Anita Gurian, PhD, aboutourkids.org/articles/in­volved_parents_hidden_resource_in_their_children039s_education. Reprinted from the NYU Langone Medical Center.  

Return to top

Donor and Volunteer Recognition Party

Support for Families is fortunate to know so many wonderful and caring people in the community who want to make a difference in the lives of children and youth with special needs. Each year, we hold a Volunteer & Donor Appreciation Party to thank those who have helped support our cause, whether it is through their volunteer work, partnership, donation or sponsorship.

At this year’s event, which was held on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, we honored ten outstanding individuals and groups who have shown strong commitment to our organization, and extraordinary dedication to children and youth with special needs and their families.

Support for Families is pleased to honor the following recipients of the Donor & Volunteer Award 2014:

  1. Macy’s, Sponsor
  2. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Community Partner
  3. Communicative Disorders Program at SFSU, Community & Volunteer Partner
  4. Jennifer Erickson Crayton, Volunteer
  5. Magic Jeanne, Volunteer
  6. Sandy Ross, Volunteer
  7. Kevin Wong, Volunteer
  8. Connie Johnson, Parent Mentor
  9. Maria Sanchez, Parent Mentor

cjm and sfcd staff

From Left to Right: Jan Watson, SFCD Grants Manager; Sarath Suon, SFCD Special Events and Volunteer Manager; Nazmin Bishop, SFCD Development Director; Cecile Puretz, Contemporary Jewish Museum; and Fraidy Aber, Contemporary Jewish Museum

Return to top

7 Reasons Special Needs Parents Might Want to Join a Support Group

by Esther Leung

friends chatting over coffee

As a parent to a child with special needs, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your child is to join a support group.

Support groups can be rich in information that can be helpful for you while raising a child with special needs. You can learn from the experiences of parents who have been there before. There are opportunities for emotional and social support for you and your child.

Here are some reasons to consider for joining a support group:

1. What Do You Know About….?
Everyone is always looking for a good doctor, dentist, ther­apy programs, recreational programs, and summer camps. Where can you get a good haircut for your child? What about asking each other about what you have heard and experienced about a particular iPad app or sensory friend­ly clothing?

2. Sounding Board
Outside of your family unit, other parents in a support group can be a sounding board for you to talk through key decisions or ideas that you want to try with your child. Other parents may be able to help you give input about what to do. They can problem solve with you.

3. Understanding Without a Monologue
Some parents will share that connecting with other par­ents of children with special needs is a huge area of sup­port. Whether your families and friends are supportive or not, sometimes it is nice to connect with people who live in similar circumstances; they know because they have lived it and you don’t need to explain it.

4. Let’s Go Play
In support groups, there is a possibility that you will meet other families who have children with similar interests. It can be a lot easier to set up family outings and play dates with another child with similar needs and adults who are comfortable with being around you and your child. There is less reason to feel self-conscious or worried about how your child will do in a social situation.

5. Go Online
Now more than ever, families are finding support groups online through Facebook, Twitter, chat groups, and blogs. This is one of the fastest ways information gets shared and effective if time, travel and child care can be a challenge.

6. OMG, You Like to Watch The Bachelor Too?
Outside of supporting each other and advocating for your children, you may discover that you have more in common, especially on a social level. Sometimes it’s just nice to make new friends.

7. Pass It On
Whether you realize it or not, the experiences that you have had will be helpful to someone else. Sharing your story gives hope, insight, tips, and encouragement to others.

Adapted from blog post “10 Reasons Special Needs Parents Should Join a Support Group” by Esther Leung, www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2013/09/03/10-reasons-special-needs-parents-should-join-a-support-group. Used with permission from FriendshipCircle.org.

Click here for all of Support for Families current support groups!

Reviews from the Joan Cassel Memorial Library

book cover

Developing Flexibility Skills in Children and Teens with Autism: The 5P Approach to Thinking, Learning and Behavior
by Linda Miller

What is flexibility in regards to autism? The book describes the lack of flexibility of thought as “rigidity in thinking and behavior, ritualistic behavior. Difficulties with selectivity or narrow focus and narrow interests and obsessions.” The 5Ps of the title are: profiling, prioritizing, problem analysis, problem solving and planning. The 5P system is recognized and being used by many school for the purpose of behavior management. There are many bonuses for the reader: for example, a comprehensive table of contents, a list of tables, a list of figures (charts and graphs), an alphabetical index and a CD-ROM that includes additional resources. The book is written for professionals and parents.

Restorative Practices book cover

Implementing Restorative Practices in Schools: A Practical Guide to Transforming School Communities
by Margaret Thorsborne and Peta Blood

Restorative Practices is currently being used in many school districts in the United States. The book is divided into three major categories: the philosophy behind the movement, managing the change process (leadership) and an implementation guide. The book doesn not provide lesson plans but attempts to build a strong foundation with a strong philosophy of climate change, layers of leadership development to mke the changes and examples of how changes have been made using the process. There are six appendices, references, further reading (materials with templates and lesson plans not in this book), a subject index and a separate author index. Once in place it is important to continue to build leadership and this book will help the reader to understand the process and how important changes in school climate have been made using it.

It Matters cover

It Matters: Lessons from My Son
by Janice Fialka

Several  staff members brought me a very small book of poetry and said we need a library copy. They were so enthusiastic about the booklet that I did obtain a review copy. I have to agree with them because it belongs in our library. The author is the mother of Micah, a son with developmental delays. He is the muse behind this slim book of poetry and essays. She discusses all the feelings and day to day living experiences that parents raising a child with special needs will know too well. She writes it in such a beautiful way that it makes parents feel like heroes and very powerful in a system where others often exert strong control. It will not take long to read and you will feel better after you finish the 47 pages.

The One and Only Sam cover

The One and Only Sam: A Story Explaining Idioms for Children with Asperger Syndrome and Other Communication Difficulties,
by Aileen Stalker

I chose this book because as a child I was baffled by idioms. The author is an Occupational Therapist. She noticed her clients, with literal thinking skills had trouble understanding the real meanings of idioms. I like this book because the colorful illustrations show what the actual words indicate and the facing page explains and illustrates what the idiom means to most listeners and gives a history of its usage. The featured idioms are used in a story. A section named “More Idioms" follows the story and is followed by additional resources.

Sleep Better cover

Sleep Better! A Guide to Improving Sleep for Children with Special Needs, Revised
by V. Mark Durand, PhD

Sleep is often a problem area for families. The author is a professor of psychology who specializes in Autism. He looks at the various behaviors in keeping the child from sleeping. He provides techniques that have proven effective in hundreds of families. The book addresses the physical barriers to a good sleep, our internal clocks, bed wetting, tooth-grinding, sleep walking, night terrors and areas of concern found in various disabilities and so much more. I’d recommend the book for the whole family whether special needs are involved or not. It is easy to locate the sections that would be most useful for each individual family. The Appendices contain additional valuable information such as medication and the Albany Sleep Problem Scale (ASPS).

School covr

When the School Says No…How to Get the Yes! Securing Special Education Services for Your Child
by Vaughn Lauer

How to implement the Structured Collaborative IEP Process is the key goal of this book. The author proposes the the parents and other members of the IEP Team work together to answer a set of six questions and an additional  two questions to be asked when the IEP is in place. The book illustrates how to use this system with various situations and  types of disabilities. One chapter considers the use of communication devices for a child with nonverbal autism and have the school district pay for the device. This scenario has similarities to our own I-Pad Project.  It is user friendly with a comprehensive Table of Contents and a good alphabetical subject index.



Reviews by Elaine Butler, Librarian

Each of these books has been personally researched and requested for review purposes by me for introduction to you, the reader.

Support for Families maintains the Joan Cassel Memorial Library which is a lending library for families and professionals, comprised of multi-lingual books, reference materials and media related to children with disabilities and special health care needs. The library is open during regular business hours.

If you have the title or author of a book you’d like to read, please go to our website and do a search. Go to this link and enter the title or author or subject and click search. If we have the item, call us and the librarian will hold the item for you until you can come to the office to pick it up. Try the online catalog or come and browse the shelves by category, new items added weekly.

Visist our library online at: http://www.supportforfamilies.org/library.html

Return to top

Return to top


Support for Families gratefully acknowledges gifts from the following individuals, groups and businesses, received Nov 1, 2013 through Jan 31, 2014. We apologize for any omissions or misspellings; please contact us so we can correct our records.

Businesses, Groups
AMF, in memory of Adrienne McKannay
Gartner Matching Gift Center, matching the gift of Leslie Kues
Physicians of Pan-Med Enterprises
Safeway Inc.
San Francisco Bay Railroad
Selby Winery

Special Grants
Morgan Stanley Foundation
Thendara Foundation

Janice Arakawa-Hoyt
Pamela Ball
Danan Barnett
Dave Becker
Ruben Becker
Reza Behforooz
Lee and John Boerger
Sheila Bost
Victoria and William Bruckner
Tracy Burt
Marianela Campos, in memory of Martha Campos
Karen Cancino
Chiachi Chen
Scott and Alexandra Clifford
Mildred and Jeff Crear
Greg Cutcher
Deborah Daniels-Smith
Christine Devoto
Andrew Dubin
Lisa Duncan
Cecilia Fairley
Lisa Fazendin
Sandy Feifer
Jill and Joseph Feldman
Edwin Ferrari
Arthur Foosaner
Shelley Forrest, in honor of Jessica Forrest's 25th birthday
Jackie and Alan Fox
Amy Fox
Jeffrey Garrison
Karen and Joshua Goodman
Gail Green
Sukie and Christopher Grounds
Almir Guimaraes
Christine and Hans Hansson
Deidre Hayden
Holly Heiserman
Francoise Herrmann
Arnold Hider
Dr. Linda Hornbostel
Jocelyn Huie
Steven and Roselynn Itelson
David Kobe
Joshua and Marilyn Zoller Koral
Susan Krist
EunHae Kwon
Phung Lam
Thomas Lammers
Virginia Lammers
Gale and Carol Larks
Robin Hansen and John Leon
Grace Leung
Nancy Lim-Yee and Edmund Lee
Alvin Lipsetz
Ingrid Lusebrink
Mary Ann Malinak
Fred Mansfield, in honor of John Im
Clara and Joseph Marotto
Maureen McCarthy
Kristi McGowan, in honor of
Nersi Boussina
Patti and Tom McRae
Anne Meyers
Linda Mickelson
Julia and Don Moseman
Marilyn Mueda
Peter Ng
Andjana Pachkova
Misha Patel
Merry and John Powers
Helen Rossini
Robert Ruth
Pornpilai and Yongyoot Sae-Tang
Robert Hines and John Seemann
Tracy Green and Alan Siegel
Leticia Mendoza-Sobel and
Richard Sobel
Laurie Soman
Cynthia Stephan
Scott Tieman, in honor of Luca,
Leo and Landon Tieman
Rita Times
Ana Torini and Family
JoAnn and Frederick Wentker
Cindy and Calvin Yee
Tiffany Yu and Lin Fay Wong

In-Kind Donations
Alphia Phi Omega Mu Zeta Chapter, SFSU
Cash & Carry Smart Foodservice
Children's Book Project
Chronicle Books
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
JW Marriott San Francisco
McCall's Event Management
Sift Cupcakes and Dessert Bar
The BookSmith
Trader Joe's 9th Street
Trader Joe's Stonestown
Whole Foods Market Ocean Avenue


Save the Date!

Friday, October 10, 2014
Wine + Design 2014

Return to top