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CASE STUDY: WI FACETS

Case Study: WI FACETS Lisa Bart Ian Johanson Betsy Kling Luke Meuler Jayme Rudoll Alverno College

CASE STUDY: WI FACETS WI FACETS History

Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training and Support (FACETS) was founded in June of 1995 by a group of parents that decided to network together to establish a resource center for children and youth with special needs, their families, teachers and other professionals. FACETS has a long history of collaborating with families and essential members of the community including schools, faith based organizations, hospitals and local and federal agencies to help families better understand these systems as well as special education laws (Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training and Support [WI FACETS], n.d.). WI FACETS originally shared office space with another agency and started with only two employees. FACETS has grown greatly since those early start up years. Today, FACETS employs twenty individuals and has grown to serve the entire state of Wisconsin. FACETS has also become home to an array of projects, which include local, state and national initiatives. The Mission of WI FACETS is to provide and broaden opportunities that enhance the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and their families, with emphasis on support for underserved families in the community (WI FACETS, n.d.). People Served WI FACETS mission is to serve children and adults with disabilities and their families. Their priority is to serve underserved families and children ages 0-21. They reach these families through different free training workshops that are provided. These workshops are held in person or via phone. Some of the workshop topics are; increasing parent participation in schools, parent/school/community partnerships, positive behavioral supports for children with challenging behaviors, pre-school transition & options, and communication strategies. Many workshops are also held in spanish and the agency is able to make accommodations for

CASE STUDY: WI FACETS

interpreters if given two weeks notice. WI FACETS also provides information and resources to educators and other professionals that work with children with disabilities. In 2012 the parent training and information center reached: 35,2888 individuals with phone/email support; 2,391 through workshops; 1,552 with individual support, 942 through parent support groups, 270, 216 through the internet-based support group. WI FACETS is continually looking at how they can reach more families and children. The staff members of FACETS attend numerous conferences and workshops across the state that are related to special education. They are trying to reach out to as many families of children with special education that they can. Another way they are networking is through the WI FACETS Yahoo group online. WI FACETS provides five core services to families and professionals to help children with disabilities. These five services are: information & referrals, support groups, parent leadership, individual assistance and youth leadership development. Any person in Wisconsin can request services from FACETS. They have staffing separated into 8 centers of WI that can assist with IEP meetings, or answer questions about special education. WI FACETS also works as a partnership between the families and different school districts throughout the State of Wisconsin. They provide feedback to the schools and teachers about the parents concerns and needs. They can help build trust between families and school staff. Funding WI FACETS is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization that is primarily funded through grants. One of the main grants FACETS works with is the Milwaukee Initiative Grant. Veronica Nolden at FACETS commented that because FACETS is largely funded through grants, this creates a lot of paperwork and data collection (V. Nolden, personal communication, April 27, 2013).

CASE STUDY: WI FACETS

FACETS also relies on individual, corporate and foundation contributions and support. Some of the corporate sponsors include: Kohls Department Stores, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance and Potawatomi Bingo and Casinos. Every Child Deserves the Chance to Shine is the mottos for the WI FACETS fundraising events Diamonds and Denim and A Diamond in the Rough. WI FACETS also relies on and welcomes private donations (WI FACETS, n.d.). Resources WI FACETS is committed to providing families with resources, information, and support free of charge. As a result, the resources available are accessible to most anyone. Many of these resources are links provided right on the website; they are also available in Spanish. Some of these links include information for the Birth to 3 Program, what Special Education terms mean in Plain Language, IEP resources, and Post-Secondary Education esources (WI FACETS, n.d.). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a key component to servicing students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). WI FACETS provides links to many documents that outline components of how IDEA is utilized and implemented in our school systems, including a link to the Ed.gov website completely devoted to delving into IDEA and all that it entails (WI FACETS, n.d.). When visiting FACETS, we were given a wealth of information in the form of handouts. Entire folders of IEP information and a general overview of the services provided by FACETS are put together by students with Special Needs from Hamilton High School. There are schedules for different seminars and chats, request forms for informational pamphlets, and phone numbers for different regions within the state of Wisconsin. FACETS truly is a wealth of information waiting to be accessed; they are committed to helping families around the state of Wisconsin

CASE STUDY: WI FACETS

(and even those out of state) understand and work through the process of being involved in Special Education in schools. Trainings Provided FACETS offers over 150 seminars and workshops for anyone who supports a child with a special need. These could be parents or guardians, but could also be teachers, friends, coaches, mentors, or neighbors. Registration for these events is required, but they are free to anyone who has registered, and accommodations can be made if they are given at least 2 weeks in advance. These workshops are offered as webinars, phone workshops, in-person support groups or training sessions, in-person workshops, or training at a non-FACETS event (these last may not be free). There are numerous events, most often more than one per week, and usually there is at least one event per week. These events are about things ranging from school, to raising of children and early-warning signs, mediation and dispute-resolution, crisis-resolution, parents rights, and even obtaining (and keeping) employment for special-needs individuals. There are also workshops and seminars offered in Spanish as well. In addition to their live and over-the-phone or online workshops and seminars, they have archived workshops on their website that can be e-mailed out for anyone who wants. These workshops topics range from IEP training, pupil nondiscrimination, Specific Learning Disabilities (SLDs), Other Health Impairments (OHIs), and IEP facilitation. Cultural Responsiveness Wisconsin FACETS is dedicated to supporting diverse learners through a variety of programs and services that are provided free of charge to underserved families in the community. The approach at Wisconsin FACETS is strongly and effectively responsive to learners from diverse cultures. Geneva Gay defines education as culturally responsive if it is

CASE STUDY: WI FACETS

using cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse students to make learning more appropriate and effective for them; it teaches to and through the strengths of these students (qtd in Vaughn, S.R., Bos, C.S., & Schuman, J.S. 95). The mission of Wisconsin FACETS seeks to support children and adults with learning disabilities from diverse cultural backgrounds. At the core of the values supported at Wisconsin FACETS are respect and dignity for the uniqueness of every individual. The approach is designed to empower individuals with diverse needs who are underserved and underrepresented in the history of traditional public education. There are many programs and resources that Wisconsin FACETS makes available free of charge to diverse families in need. There is a Milwaukee Public Schools Initiative Project that seeks to encourage families to actively engage their public schools to provide the necessary services for their children. A key component of this project is to educate families as to their rights in public education as well as the practical issues associated with the process of forming Individualized Education Plans (IEP) that are designed to address learning needs. There is also a resource provided at Wisconsin FACETS called Response to Intervention and Family Engagement Online Module which seeks to education families as to the process of how supports students receive in school can be reinforced in the home. For education to be effective it is essential for schools to respond positively to cultural and learning diversity, while families need to reinforce lessons and effective methodology used in education. Wisconsin FACETS also holds trainings for families to reinforce the value of education. It is important that the decision of these trainings respects the dignity and uniqueness of every family and culture so that families are open to the learning experience. Two events in April of 2013 provide good examples for how Wisconsin FACETS is culturally responsive. The

CASE STUDY: WI FACETS

first is the Wisconsin Indian Education Association Conference and the second is the Grupo de Autismo: Apoyos Academicos y de Comportamiento Disponiblesparo los Estudiantes. Each of these training sessions is deliberately designed to respect cultural differences and provides support for how diversity of cultural and learning needs can enhance the quality of education if families are afforded appropriate access to schools and services. One challenge that FACETS seeks to improve in the future is the services and communication with the Hmong population in the Milwaukee area. While translators are accessible for Spanish and English, it is difficult to find a translator to work with Hmong families. As FACETS has learned, a major barrier to effective education can be

communication. The Hmong population in Milwaukee is underserved in the field of education and needs a stronger voice to be able to develop. FACETS has an effective model of support that can be applied to better support the Hmong families of Milwaukee. Staff Background and Credentials FACETS has a staff that is made up of three administrators, one accounting director, and thirteen administrative assistants. Each of the administrators serves both FACETS as well as numerous other organizations, committees, or councils. Each also has attended multiple levels of graduate school, receiving either a masters degree or a law degree in addition to their bachelors degrees. The administrative assistants come from a broad range of backgrounds and range from not citing any educational training to one who has a doctoral degree. They do all, however, have years of relevant experience in the areas of teaching, special needs, litigation, communication, and non-profit management. Many of them were teachers before coming to FACETS, regular or

CASE STUDY: WI FACETS

special education, some for as little as a few years and some retired as a school teacher, only to come out of retirement to work with FACETS. Additionally, most, if not all, of them also are related to someone who has or had special needs in school, whether that person is a sibling or a child. In fact, one of the members served on the youth steering committee before being hired onto the staff.

CASE STUDY: WI FACETS References Gorove, L. (n.d.). Wisconsin family assistance center for education, training and support. Retrieved from: http://www.wifacets.org Vaughn, S.R., Bos, C.S., & Schumm, J.S. (2011). Teaching students who are exceptional, diverse, and at risk. New Jersey: Pearson.