The New York Community Trust (NYCT) has awarded INCLUDEnyc, a resource center for youngsters with disabilities and their families, $125,000 to expand its program for Spanish speakers, INCLUYEnyc, into several areas, including Sunset Park.
INCLUYEnyc, which is targeted programming created specifically for Spanish-speaking families to help parents advocate for their children’s access to appropriate services, and help them meet developmental and academic goals, was launched last year by INCLUDEnyc.
“Through our initial language access work in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan, we received insight and feedback from Latino communities,” explained Jane Heaphy, deputy executive director of programs for INCLUDEnyc. “It’s not just about translated materials, but also specifically addressing concerns of immigrant families, like how to seek special education services for their child regardless of documentation status. With the New York Community Trust grant, INCLUDEnyc can take those lessons learned and expand workshops, information and resources citywide to Latino communities like Sunset Park.”
Among INCLUYEnyc’s offerings are workshops on IEPs, which are provided to students with learning and other disabilities.
“Understanding Your Child’s IEP is a popular workshop,” said Alfonso Guzman, manager of parent and family services at INCLUDEnyc. “The IEP is a critical legal document, which mandates physical, speech, occupational therapy, counseling and related supports. During our workshop, parents bring their child’s IEP, which is in English, and educators like myself walk them through it, so they know what they’re signing and what to ask for going forward.”
In addition, INCLUYEnyc also helps parents with planning, so their children can lead productive, independent lives after high school.
The resource center’s expansion to Sunset is important, according to Heaphy, who said, “INCLUDEnyc will be reaching out to organizations in Sunset Park that families already know and trust to initiate partnerships and together provide more disability resources and referrals to families.”