Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey, Inc. (SPAN)
mission of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network is to empower
families and inform and involve professionals and other individuals
interested in the healthy development and education of children from
birth through age 21. Through
this collaboration, all children will become fully participating and
contributing members of our communities and society.
SPAN’s foremost commitment is to children with the greatest
need due to poverty, disability; discrimination based on race, sex, or
language; geographic location; or other special circumstances.
SPAN is the New Jersey Parent
Information and Resource Center for families of all children,
and the Parent
Training and Information Center for parents of children with
disabilities and other special needs.
SPAN houses Family
Voices-NJ and Statewide
Parent to Parent, and is a member of the Federation
of Families for Children’s Mental Health, the
National Coalition of Advocates for Students, the National
Parent Network on Disabilities, the National
Network of Partnership Schools, the National
Coalition of Education Activists, Communities
Support America, and the National
Black Child Development Institute.
provides training, technical assistance, parent-to-parent support,
information and resources, and parent leadership development.
SPAN’s program is carried out by a bilingual, multiracial
staff of parents of children with and without special needs.
SPAN’s 50 full- and part-time staff and 50+ trained volunteer
Resource Parents directly assist over 25,000 families each year.
We conduct extensive workshops on educational rights and
advocacy, collaboration, and leadership skills for over 10,000
parents, educators and other professionals, and community
organizations annually. We
disseminate materials to over 50,000 parents and professionals each
year. SPAN’s central
office, six regional offices (housed in Jersey City, Paterson,
Plainfield, Trenton, Camden, and Vineland), one northern (Bergen
County) and southern (Camden County) office, part-time staff at 11
county-based Special Child Health Services Case Management Units, and
11 Community Resource Centers, ensure that SPAN’s services are
available to the full range of families in New Jersey’s 21 counties
and 600+ communities.
addition to SPAN’s individual trainings on parent involvement, and
parent-professional collaboration in school reform and improvement;
special education; and violence prevention, SPAN offers several
comprehensive training series, including:
Leadership Development Institute,
8 sessions designed to prepare parents to be effective partners in
school improvement and Abbott implementation;
Engaged in Public Policy,
2 sessions designed to enable parents to participate in public policy
debates around education, health and human services;
Resource Parent (SRP) Training,
6 sessions that train volunteer parents staffing our 11 Community
Resource Centers to
provide information, training and in-person support to parents of
children with disabilities or special health or emotional needs;
Multi-Ethnic Families and Communities, and
Families, 2 series of 10-12 sessions each, assisting parents
to help their children avoid violence and substance abuse;
Right Question Project,
helping parents learn how to ask the “right questions” about their
children’s education and progress;
Compact for Learning, assisting
parents to support their child’s learning at home;
As Teachers, a
comprehensive training offered to Family Outreach Workers at early
childhood centers in Abbott districts; and
Jersey Inclusive Child Care, a
6 session training for child care providers on including children with
special needs in typical early childhood programs.
promotes family-centered perspectives and services by providing a
parent voice on government and advocacy committees.
SPAN staff represent families on:
childhood education and child care issues
(Abbott Early Childhood Implementation External Advisory
Committee, the Governor’s Early Childhood Commission, the Early
Childhood Education Curriculum Framework Committee and Curriculum
Framework Resources Team, the Map to Inclusive Child Care Committee of
the NJ Department of Human Services, the Early Care and Education
Coalition of ACNJ, the Early Intervention Self-Assessment Advisory
Committee of the Department of Health, and the State Interagency
Coordinating Council for Early Intervention);
(the Abbott Whole School Reform Implementation External
Advisory Committee, the Newark Whole School Reform Oversight
Committee, New Jersey Department of Education Goals 2000 Advisory
Committee, Abbott School Management Teams);
(the Self-Assessment/State Improvement Plan Committee of the
Department of Education, the Special Education Advisory Council, the
Developmental Disabilities Council Education Subcommittee, Board of
the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education and Coalition for
Special Education Funding Reform);
(the Children’s Initiative Advisory Council, Board of the New Jersey
health issues (the American Academy of Pediatrics-NJ Chapter
Committee on Children with Special Needs; New Jersey Citizen Action
Health Care Alliance; Advisory Committee to Maternal & Child
and poverty issues
(NJ Promise the Children Network and Legal Services-NJ Anti-Poverty
EDUCATION/SPECIAL HEALTH AND EMOTIONAL NEEDS
SPAN Parent Training & Information Center:
SPAN provides statewide training and technical assistance for
families of children with disabilities or at risk of academic failure
due to poverty, limited English proficiency, inadequate education, or
special health, emotional or other needs.
and technical assistance is provided by SPAN staff at our main
office in Newark, and our Northern and Southern regional offices.
To obtain telephone technical assistance, or to request
information or a training, our main office may be reached through our
toll-free hotline, 1-800-654-SPAN or 973-642-8100.
Speak to Maria Rodriguez
(x 100) to set up a training, receive an information packet, be placed
on the mailing list for our newsletter, The Bridge, or receive the
telephone contact information for our northern
(201-343-2009 x 237) or southern (Toni
Slowinski) (856-767-7774) offices; to ask for our technical
assistance specialists Suzanne
Mouldavan (x107), or Geraldine Moore (x 118)
to obtain telephone help. Telephone
information and technical assistance is also available from
trained volunteer SPAN Resource Parents at our Community
Resource Centers in 13 counties.
If you want more information about the Community Resource
Centers, Maria Rodriguez
can provide the contact person and telephone number for each of our
Kinsell, our Resource Center Coordinator, can tell you how the
Resource Parent system works and how you can become a volunteer
Resource Parent. SPAN
also has limited capacity to support families through in person
meetings, meetings at school and district offices, and mediations and
hearings. Staff of our Community
Education Project can provide information, training, telephone
technical assistance, and in-person technical assistance and support
by appointment only for families in urban Essex County.
Contact Geraldine Moore at our main office for
help. Staff of our Multilingual
Center (in collaboration with Catholic Family and Community
Services of Paterson),
can provide information, training, technical assistance, and in-person
technical assistance and support to Spanish-speaking families in
Passaic County and statewide. Contact
Rose Kardashian at Catholic
Family and Community Services of Paterson, 973-279-7100, for help.
SPAN also works with the New
Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education, the Medical
Student Education Project (in collaboration with the UAP of
New Jersey), the New Jersey State Department of Education Office of
Special Education Programs Monitoring Self-Assessment Steering
Committee, and the National Parent Network on Disabilities.
CARE and New Jersey Parent to Parent:
Project CARE provides a
parent advocate/Family Resources Specialist at eleven county-based
Special Child Health Services case management units (Bergen, Camden,
Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Sussex
and Union). These
part-time Family Resource Specialists support families who are
registered with Special Child Health Services.
They may provide information, telephone or in-person technical
assistance, or support at mediation or due process.
You may contact these staff through calling your county Special
Child Health Services Case Management Unit.
For more information, contact Patricia
Paraskevacos, Project Coordinator, at the Passaic County Special
Child office, 973-523-6778. New
Jersey Statewide Parent to Parent, staffed by a part-time
Statewide and four part-time Regional Parent Associates, provides
orientations to parents and matches parents with experienced parent
mentors to share experiences, concerns, and emotions concerning
children with special health or emotional needs or disabilities.
Parents who want to support other parents through telephone or
in-person, or who want to receive the free quarterly newsletter,
should contact Malia Corde,
the Statewide coordinator, at 908-537-4673.
You may obtain the contact information for the regional
associates (NW, NE, Central, and South) by calling Maria
Rodriguez at the main SPAN office.
This project provides two part-time State Coordinators to
disseminate information to families and professionals and involve them
in public policy discussions and advocacy around health care and
health insurance coverage issues.
Lauren Agoratus and Bev Bowser can provide trainings
or telephone technical assistance on health advocacy, managed care,
partners for patients, appealing denials of medical coverage, and
other health and healthcare issues affecting children with special
needs. There is also a
free bimonthly newsletter. Contact
Family Voices at 609-584-5779. Through
this project, SPAN is a member of National Family Voices and Bright
Futures for Children.
County Family “WRAP” (Wisdom, Resource, Advocacy, and Parent to
Parent Support): This
project expands SPAN’s Project CARE, Parent to Parent, and Family
Voices services in Essex County, with a special focus on urban
districts in Essex County. A
full-time SPAN Family Resource Specialist, Rhonda
Brown, 973-857-4663, is stationed at the Essex County Special
Child Health Services Early Intervention Service Coordination and 3-21
Case Management Unit, to provide information, telephone and in-person
technical assistance, and support to families whose children are
registered with Essex County Special Child Health Services.
She also makes referrals to the Essex County Family Voices and
Parent to Parent staff, Shirley
Johnson, as needed. For
more information, contact Shirley
Johnson at 973-642-8100 x 112.
Jersey Inclusive Child Care Project:
project provides a full-time project coordinator and access to
training and technical assistance implementation expertise to
facilitate the inclusion of children with special needs (disabilities,
special health or emotional needs, or at risk due to poverty, limited
English proficiency, or extenuating family circumstances) in early
childhood/child care and after-school care programs.
Free information, training and technical assistance are
available to providers, parents, school districts, early intervention
programs, and others. We
disseminate a Resource Guide for including children with special
needs; a brief “Q&A” and longer information packet on ADA/504
and child care; and parent and provider guidebooks to selecting child
care for children with special needs. The project also seeks to engage
families and professionals in advocacy aimed at increasing and
enhancing the availability and quality of early childhood programs for
all children. If you
would like to find out more about the project, or have a training or
on-site technical assistance provided to your child care or before or
after school center, contact Susan
Guider, Project Director, at 973-642-8100 x 108.
Through this project, SPAN is a member of the New Jersey
Professional Standards for Child Care work group and the National
Association for the Education of Young Children.
to Adult Life:
SPAN is providing information, training, technical assistance and
support to families and youth ages 14-21 transitioning to adult life.
This project provides a part-time coordinator/trainer, Alice
Hunnicutt, 973-642-8100 x 204 or 732-235-9320, and two part-time
technical assistance specialists, one in the north (Liz
Mulholland), and one in the south (Joanne
McKeown). We are
conducting at least one transition to adult life training for parents
in each county, and one for youth themselves in each county.
Contact Maria Rodriguez
at the central SPAN office to schedule a transition training, or find
out when and where the next training closest to you is already
scheduled. Contact Liz
(north) at the Bergen County Special Child Health Services Case
Management Unit, 201-599-6153, and Joanne
(south) at the Camden County Special Child Health Services Case
Management Unit, 856-374-6242, for telephone technical assistance.
In very limited circumstances, it may be possible that someone
may accompany you to an IEP meeting or mediation.
out of School Project: This
project provides a part-time advocate to assist Mercer County youth
transitioning out of juvenile facilities and residential placements to
enable them to return to their neighborhood schools or other
appropriate education settings, particularly in Trenton.
All referrals to the advocate assigned to this project must come from the Mercer County Youth Services
Commission or an agency that contracts with the Commission to provide
services to youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
This project provides a comprehensive 10-session training,
Strengthening Multi-Ethnic Families and Communities, in New Jersey’s
Abbott districts to help parents
learn how to develop
better relationships with their children and help their children avoid
substance abuse and violence. Other
trainings available include Positive Behavior Supports and Discipline;
Creating Positive School Climates; and Effective Discipline Strategies
ENGAGEMENT/PUBLIC POLICY REFORM
Leadership Development Institute/Mobilization for Equity/Parent
Information and Resource Center:
This project provides a comprehensive eight-session training in
school reform, education law, and effective parent participation,
leadership, and advocacy for PTA officers, Title I and special
education advisory council members, parents on Abbott-mandated
school-based management teams, and other interested parents, in urban
districts. Parent Leadership Interns conduct trainings and engage in projects
aimed at increasing parent engagement and improving education.
Ongoing technical assistance is provided to parent graduates.
Telephone technical assistance is available for parents
throughout the state. In
addition, parent educators provide young parents with information and
support to encourage activities as their children’s first teachers
and facilitate participation in their children’s education in Abbott
districts through the Parents
as Teachers program, in collaboration with Prevent Child
Abuse-New Jersey. SPAN
works with organizations such as ASPIRA, the Urban League, the
Education Law Center, the Association for Children of New Jersey, Head
Start Councils, Unified Vailsburg Services Organization in Newark, the
Paterson Education Fund, Catholic Family and Community Services, and
other community-based and advocacy groups, and interested schools, to
enhance parent leadership development and engagement.
Through this project, SPAN is a member of the National
Coalition of Advocates for Students and the National Parent Advisory
Board of the Public Education Network.
and Family Initiative
(with the Association for Children of New Jersey, the New Jersey
Mental Health Association, and the New Jersey Parents’ Caucus).
This project works to engage parents and professionals in a
movement for comprehensive, coordinated, culturally competent services
for children and families across agencies and issue areas, with a
special focus on children with challenging behaviors, emotional
disabilities, and special mental health needs.
Through this project, SPAN is a member of the Federation of
Families for Children’s Mental Health.
Engaged in Public Policy: PEPP
trains parents to be effective participants in public policy advocacy
on issues affecting their children, particularly in the areas of
education and health. SPAN's
Associate Director, Debra
Jennings, with extensive legislative and policy experience,
coordinates this project, conducts the trainings, develops ongoing
Action Alerts on important public policy issues, and provides ongoing
technical assistance to parent participants to support their
engagement in the public policy debate.
Rodriguez at the main SPAN office to request a training for your
parent or advocacy group or to obtain the PEPP Training packet.
Through this project, SPAN works with The Advocacy Institute in
Washington, D.C. and the Center for Non-Profit Corporations in New
PARTICIPATION ON TASK FORCES AND COMMITTEES
SPAN staff participate on numerous federal,
state, county and local boards, task forces, and committees designed
to improve education and health for all children, especially children
with special needs, including:
National Coalition of Advocates for Students (Steering
National Parent Involvement Panel, Public Education
National Parent Network on Disabilities (Board of
National Parent Network on Disabilities (Chair, Policy
& Legislative Committee)
National/International Advocacy Advisory Committee,
Welfare and Human Rights Monitoring Project National
ASHA Ad Hoc Committee on Consumer/Member Advocacy
National Coalition of Education Activists
State Department of Education Special Education Advisory
State Department of Education Parents' Rights Handbook
State Department of Education Monitoring Review
State Department of Education Core Curriculum Content
Standards Parent Conference Planning Committee
New Jersey State Interagency Coordinating Council
New Jersey Department of Health Early Intervention Task
New Jersey Development Disabilities Council Education
Subcommittee; Chair of Community Awareness and Access to Inclusion
Workgroup; Inclusive Education Teacher Preparation Project Advisory
New Jersey Department of Human Services Map to Inclusive
Child Care Task Force; Chair of Training/Professional Development
New Jersey Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Children
with Special Needs
Family Support Advisory Group
Community Health Law Project Advisory Committee and
Managed Care Training Task Force
Children and Family Initiative Steering Committee (with
ACNJ and NJ Mental Health Association)
Children and Family Initiative Parents' Caucus
New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education Executive
New Jersey Coalition of Advocates for Children with
New Jersey Coalition for Special Education Funding
University-Affiliated Program Consumer Advisory Council
New Jersey Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
New Jersey Early Intervention Coalition
New Jersey Citizen Action Health Care Alliance; SSI
United Way Project Leadership
Concerned African-American Parents
New Jersey Promise the Children Network
Goals 2000 Parent Assistance Center Advisory Committee
Regional Family Support Councils
County Disability Advisory Committees
Newark Project Leadership
Regional Early Intervention Collaborative Boards
staff, volunteer Resource Parents, and Board members also participate
in leadership and support roles in private, non-profit agencies and
organizations serving children and their families, including groups
such as the Urban League, ASPIRA, PTA, local and county parent support
groups, and district Boards of Education, special education parent
advisory councils, PTAs and PTA councils, Title I Advisory Councils,
and local school review/school-based management teams to promote
family-centered perspectives and services.
a list of SPAN Offices and Resource locations, click HERE