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Arlington County Support Groups
The Arlington Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) is a county wide PTA with parent liaisons publicly listed for every public school in Arlington. More information is available on the website at Arlington Special Education PTA website. SEPTA operates an email list to which parents can subscribe on the Arlington Special Education PTA membership webpage. One of the major services offered by SEPTA are the special education parent liaisons. The goal is to have at least one liaison at every school in Arlington. This is a program that is managed jointly with the Parent Resource Center. A list of the liaison’s is available on the APS parent liaison webpage.
An Arlington Inclusion Task Force has been established which has been working on training programs and other initiatives and maintains an email list. For additional information, contact Tauna Szymanski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parent volunteers maintain a list serve for Arlington parents of children with Aspergers and other Autism Spectrum Disorders known as the ASIS Yahoo Group. This is a closed group (you must have permission to join). You can join online or send a message to email@example.com. You may also contact Michelle Best at firstname.lastname@example.org with other questions.
The Arlington Autism Group is a parent support group that also operates an email list. To join the list, contact Donna Budway at email@example.com Social mixers are held periodically for members.
Parents of Autistic Children of Northern Virginia is a chapter of the national POAC organization. It operates a list serve and offers parents support meetings (check their website for details). While the focus of educational information is on Fairfax County, the list serve is an excellent resource for information exchange and referrals to specialists. The website is particularly helpful for learning about free training events related to autism spectrum disorders. To sign up for the email list you must join as a member, which you can do at poac-nova.org.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Support
The ADHD Parent Support Network meets regularly and is coordinated by the Parent Resource Center. For more information contact Kathleen Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 703-228-2135.
An AD/HD Yahoo Group for Arlington parents of children with ADD or AD/HD was founded by Arlington parent (now School Board member) Nancy Van Doren. To join the list you can join online or send an email to email@example.com.
CHADD of Northern Virginia (CHADD-NOVA) is a chapter of the national CHADD organization (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder ). CHADD-NOVA holds periodic meetings with presentations from professionals in the region and also keeps a calendar for support group meetings. For more information see the CHADD list of events or contact Nadine Asef-Sargent at firstname.lastname@example.org (an Arlington parent who actively volunteers for CHADD-NOVA).
A number of efforts have been undertaken by parents in recent years to improve reading intervention in Arlington Public Schools. An Arlington Reading Yahoo Group was established by parents. This is a restricted group. You can join online or send an email to subscribe to email@example.com.
Mental Health Support
The National Alliance on Mental Illness-Northern Virginia (NAMI Northern Virginia) is a chapter of the national NAMI organization which has a mission to serve both adults and children with mental health needs. NAMI Northern Virginia has a website, operates an email list and offers parent support meetings. To subscribe to the NAMI Northern Virginia email list, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting to be added to the list.
NAMI Northern Virginia has a Help Line which is answered by local volunteers each afternoon during the week. The number is (703) 968-4007. Messages left on voice mail are generally returned within 24 hours. The national organization also has a help line that is open from 10-6 (ET) Monday through Friday. For those in crisis, the 24-hour toll free and confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
The following NAMI Northern Virginia support groups are for family members with a focus on parents and caregivers of children under 18. Please check the NAMI Northern Virginia Family Programs website page for updates and for information about classes like “Family-to-Family” and “Basics” (for parents and caregivers of youth).
NAMI Northern Virginia’s Arlington Family Support Group meets on the second and fourth Sundays of each month at Cherrydale Baptist Church, 3910 Lorcom Lane, Arlington, Virginia 22207 (Room 118, lower level). Contact Michelle Best (email@example.com) or Alisa Cowen (firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-243-2205) for additional information. To be added to the email list associated with this group–which contains a wealth of current updates–contact Naomi Verdugo at email@example.com .
NAMI Northern Virginia’s Fairfax City Family Support Group meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m at Woodson High School (library), 9525 Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22032.
NAMI Northern Virginia’s Springfield Family Support Group meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (Room #24), 8304 Old Keene Mill Road, West Springfield, VA 22152
NAMI Northern Virginia also offers free Youth Fests throughout the year. These provide an opportunity for teens, young adults, children and families to come together for fun, while also providing an opportunity for sharing, support and learning about local resources. Subscribe to the NAMI Northern Virginia email list at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive event and program announcements. (Last year’s Summer Fest brought teens and young adults together around a campfire to enjoy s’mores, conversation, and acoustic guitar played by a young adult, while parents attended a mini-support group nearby; children and families were free to explore the farm.)
Down Syndrome Support
The Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia operates a list serve and has an extensive website. Visit the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia or contact Heather Trammel at email@example.com or 703-621-7129 for additional information. To subscribe to the email list send a message to DSANVfirstname.lastname@example.org
Arlington County Public Schools
Arlington Public Schools Office of Special Education is part of the Department of Teaching and Learning. As of May 2018, the administrative offices for Arlington Public Schools are located 2110 Washington Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22204. Most non-school based special education personnel are based at this location, including the Director of Special Education (703-228-6040), the Supervisor of Special Programs (703-228-6050), special education coordinators (who manage procedure and take minutes at eligibility meetings) autism coordinators, and behavior specialists. A wealth of information is available on the Office of Special Education webpage.
Located at 2110 Washington Boulevard, Suite 158, Arlington, VA 22204, the Arlington Public Schools Special Education Parent Resource Center (PRC) is an important resource for parents. It is a good clearinghouse for information about special education services, connecting parents with local volunteers who are parents with children who receive accommodations or special education services. The PRC maintains an extensive library of books and videos that parents can borrow. The PRC coordinates much of the programming offered by the Office of Special Education. These programs can vary tremendously by topic between Parent Workshops and Staff Training and address a number of different issues. Two major programs are the Autism Training Calendar and the CHADD Parent to Parent Courses for parents of children with AD/HD. Contact the PRC for more information at 703-228-7239 or call the Coordinator Kathleen Donovan at 703-228-2135. The PRC webpage is updated regularly for events and has its library collection listed on ACORN. Parent Resource Centers are mandated by federal law for every school district in the country.
The Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee (ASEAC) is a group of parent volunteers who are appointed by the Arlington School Board to serve in an advisory capacity to the School Board. Advisory Committees are mandated by federal law for every school district in the country. Members of ASEAC are an excellent resource for parents. Members, meeting dates and reports are listed on the APS website. All ASEAC meetings are open to the public and offer an opportunity for public comment.
An ADHD Task Force, now disbanded, joined staff and parent groups working on improving outcomes for student with characteristics of ADHD in the Arlington Public Schools. Information is available on the APS website here.
The Arlington School Board – Members of the Arlington School Board are available to meet privately with parents during Office Hours throughout the school year or by appointment. Updates on office hours are available on the School Board webpage.
Arlington County Government Resources
The Arlington County Department of Human Services (DHS) , located at 2100 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22204, offers a number of supports for families of children with disabilities who are residents of Arlington. DHS provides services to children up to age 18 through the Child and Family Services Division, a portion of which is served by the Child Welfare Bureau as well as the Children’s Behavior Healthcare Bureau.
Children with developmental disabilities might qualify for a Developmental Disability Medicaid Waiver. Medicaid Waivers permit families to access government services for their disabled children (for example respite care, placement in day services or residential services, job training, behavior support, etc.). Obtaining a Medicaid waiver can be critical to access support for the disabled across the life span. You can contact a Developmental Disability Specialist at 703-228-1149 or call the main number 703-228-1700 and request a duty worker to request a screening. More information about services is available on the county website DD Waiver Page. There are significant waiting lists in Virginia for a waiver slot, but it is important to get qualified to ensure services are in place as soon as a slot becomes available. Prior to contacting the county, you might wish to review the recommendations provided by non-profit organizations, such as the Arc of Northern Virginia, to make sure you are prepared to apply for the waiver.
Children who have both a developmental disability and a nursing need might quality for the Commonwealth Coordinated Care Plus Waiver (formerly known as the Elderly Disabled With Consumer Direction Waiver).
Arlington County DHS also provides mental and behavioral health supports overseen by the Community Services Board. More information about the Community Services Board is available on the Arlington County Community Services Board webpage.
Crisis Intervention for Youth through Arlington County
The Community Services Act is a Virginia law designed to help troubled youth. A child who is engaging in behaviors of a serious nature can be referred to a Family Assessment & Planning Team (FAPT), a multidisciplinary team brought together to address the situation. Typically, referral to a FAPT is made by a case manager from the Schools, DHS or the Courts. To find out more about FAPT, contact the social worker at your child’s school, call Hadley Corcoran, CSA Coordinator at 703-228-1670, or visit the The Comprehensive Services Act for At-Risk Youth and Families webpage.
Youth Behavioral Health Services can be accessed by children with serious mental health disorders up to age 18. Jennifer Alvaro screens for intake. You can reach Ms. Alvaro by calling 703-228-1560. Arlington County is working on providing same day walk in services, but this is not yet in place as of May 2018.
A 24-hour rapid response service is offered for youth facing a mental health crisis or substance through the Children’s Regional Crisis Response (CR-2). This service is meant to prevent removal from the home, and is provided at no cost to the family. CR-2 can be reached at 1-844-627-4747. More information is available on the county’s CR-2 webpage.
A 24-hour mental health emergency services hotline can be reached at 703-228-5160. Additional information is available on the Arlington County Mental Health Emergency Services webpage.
If you are in a crisis and need to talk to someone, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness crisis support help-line at 1-888-486-8264.
For medical emergencies, call 911.
Adapted Programs/Therapeutic Recreation
The Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation has a Therapeutic Recreation Office which provides inclusion support, adapted programming, and maintains a good list of community resources on its Therapeutic Recreation webpage. For more information call 703-228-4740.