Friday, February 5, 2016


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), will take effect in 2016. NDSC took the lead in advocating for key improvements in the law that raises expectations for your children.

1. ESSA states that no more than 1% of all students (approximately 10% of students with disabilities) can participate in a state’s alternate assessment instead of the general assessment. NCLB had no limit.

IEP TIP: If you expect the alternate assessment to be suggested at the IEP meeting, you should request a copy of the state participation criteria for this assessment, BEFORE the meeting, to help you plan for this discussion.

2. ESSA encourages states to develop, share information on and promote the use of accommodations to increase the number of students who can take the general assessment instead of the alternate assessment.

IEP TIP: Prior to the IEP meeting, request a copy of the state’s most recent accommodations policy to prepare for a discussion about whether the general assessment with accommodations is appropriate for your child.

3. ESSA provisions raise expectations by making it clear that ALL students, regardless of their disability or the type of state assessment they take, are expected to make progress in the general education curriculum, must be permitted to try to earn a regular diploma, and should be on track for postsecondary education or employment.

IEP TIP: Insist on IEP goals that are aligned to grade-level content. Use these ESSA provisions to advocate for inclusion and to focus on the goals, supports and services needed for post-school success.

4. ESSA states that employment should be consistent with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which focuses on competitive integrated employment.

IEP TIP: Use this connection to WIOA to advocate for minimum wage (or higher) integrated job experiences during high school.

5. ESSA mentions Universal Design for Learning (UDL) numerous times, recognizing it as an accepted best practice.

IEP TIP: Ask your IEP team what they are doing to implement UDL and share the resources at Some means by which your child is engaged, processes information and demonstrates knowledge may be included in the IEP as accommodations or more informally shared with teachers.


© National Down Syndrome Congress 2016 This document may only be distributed or reprinted in whole or in part with attribution to the National Down Syndrome Congress.

My New Health Plan Coverage2Care

Update on Legislative Session

Each year, Indiana Association of United Ways partners with the Indiana Coalition for Human Services to share a little about the progress with legislation affecting working Hoosiers, children, seniors and people with disabilities. About 265 bills of the nearly 825 introduced bills are still alive. 


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

H&R Block Will Donate 9% to Family Voices for Online Tax Filings

Filing taxes online?  File with H&R Block, and We Care will donate up to 9% of every purchase to Family Voices Indiana! 

Please use this LINK

Thanks for your support.

Health Insurance Explained Coverage2Care

Health Insurance Explained – The YouToons Have It Covered is a light-hearted treatment of a difficult and important topic, breaking down insurance concepts, such as premiums, deductibles and provider networks. It explains how individuals pay for coverage and obtain medical care and prescription drugs when enrolled in various types of health insurance, including HMOs and PPOs.
The video is also available in Spanish.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Help us WIN $6,000: VOTE for Family Voices Indiana

Indiana Members Credit Union is celebrating serving their members for 60 years! Founded in 1956, IMCU has continued to serve its mission of "People Helping People" and what better way to culminate 60 years than giving back to the organizations that support our community. As part of the celebration, IMCU is donating $6,000 each quarter to charities and organizations who serve those in need.

Click on “Vote for your favorite charity and help us, help them!”

Scroll down to the list of nominated organizations and vote for Family Voices Indiana!

Each person can vote one time per day now through the end of the voting period March 31, 2016.

Thank you for your support

The Power of Soccer 

By Jan Labas

Sounds a little silly to say that adapted sports has changed our lives, but it’s true. As parents of a preemie, once we got our child past the important issues like breathing and staying well, we were faced with how to begin to fill his life with meaning. Filling that life when you are differently-abled can be challenging; but what meaningful life isn’t challenging at times?

As our Luke, diagnosed with cerebral palsy, grew, we graduated from a stroller to a manual wheelchair, before jumping into a power chair at the age of 5 as he entered kindergarten. As a family, you explore things to do together. We loved bowling since many lanes had a ball ramp and it was one activity that all seven of us could do together.

Our lives changed when we were introduced to Power Soccer. Sounds a tad melodramatic that an adapted sport could impact an entire family, but it has and does. As Luke matured, so did his peers. Off they went with the baseball team or the football team to be a part of something competitive. Luke would tell you that his competitive nature has nothing to do with how others perceive his ability. I think that might be the one attitude I have noticed changing in the minds of others. Instead of seeing a wheelchair and the first thought being what he can’t do; it is now, look what he CAN do.

When Luke started playing Power Soccer seven years ago he was hooked immediately. It gave him an outlet for his competitiveness, along with injuries - but he wore them proudly. Over the years, as with all athletes that stick with something, his play improved. He is now part of a team in the highest level of competition traveling the country.

Adapted sports can be such a big part of a child with a physical disabilities life. The sport has pushed Luke to travel and adapt to new places and surroundings. Power Soccer has exposed him to many new friends that he shares a unique connection with. Teams are not age-specific so he has learned skills of getting along with adults, and sometimes younger kids,
in the heat of competition. He has learned about himself in the highs of winning and the lows of losing. He has gained valuable life lessons that I’m not sure how else he would have learned. He knows what it feels like to be good at something and work toward a goal. He has learned what being a leader means and the responsibility that comes with it.

Power Soccer as an adapted sport has shaped Luke and helped him to become who he is. As a family, Power Soccer has exposed all of us to hundreds of families. Imagine spending weekends nine months out of the year with families just like your own. Sometimes it’s like a giant support group where we hash out struggles in the bleachers; while other times the play is so exciting we can barely sit down between cheers.

I strongly urge parents, if you are feeling like your child’s disability is isolating or that they need a physical activity, to seek out recreational opportunities in your community. If you need help finding them, call us; we can help. 317.944.8982

Resources for you

If you’re looking for sports opportunities for your child, you might check with Special Olympics in your area.  Special Olympics Indiana is a not-for-profit organization that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, reaching more than 11,000 athletes across Indiana.

Rehab Hospital Indiana Sports is another program you might be interested in. RHI Sports specializes in serving youth and adults with spinal cord, orthopedic, neuromuscular, and visual impairments. Specially designed equipment is available for many of the activities. Handcycles, racing chairs, tennis chairs, water skies and adaptive golf carts enable participants to enjoy activities comfortably and safely.