Workshops & Support Groups

                                   Information ~ Connections ~ Support

Vermont Family Network’s workshops can be tailored to fit your group’s needs and time frame. Workshops are grant funded and free for parents. See below for a list of available workshops. Contact Janice Sabett or 1-800-800-4005, x218.

Here are some parent-run support groups in the area. Check with the contact person for dates and times. If you want to start a support group, contact us at 1-800-800-4005.

Be sure to visit VFN’s YouTube channel  to watch previously-recorded webinars.


Rutland: Free Special Education Workshops for parents of children with special needs. Vermont Family Network is pleased to be collaborating with the Rutland City School District to pilot a Parent Professional Partnership. Workshop 1 – Monday, May 5 from 10:30 am – 1:00 pm is Navigating Special Education and Workshop 2 – Tuesday, May 6 from 10:30 am – 1:00 pm is Effective Communication and Family Engagement. Registration is required. Click here for workshop descriptions and to register on-line. To register by phone or email, contact or (802) 353-3277.

Newport: Transition Forum for parents of youth with special needs. Friday, May 9 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Click here to register.  Success Stories ~ Meet Community Partners ~ Tips ~ Resources ~ Fun ~ Lunch ~ Door prizes! For questions or information, please contact or  (802) 373-5382.

St. Albans: Community Resource Parent Volunteer Training for parents of children with special needs.  May 10 and May 17, 2014 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm Click here to register.  Have you been helped and supported by other parents as you walk your journey and want to give back by providing peers with support? Do you want to learn more about advocacy, peer support, navigating the special education system, communication skills, and accessing resources to help your own child or be a resource within your community to help other parents? Lunch and a $50 per day stipend will be provided. Attendance required both Saturdays. For more information, contact Laura Weber or (802) 373-3365. If you need an interpreter or any other special accommodations,  contact Janice Sabett or 1-800-800-4005, x218 by April 18.          

Webinar: Flexible Pathways Initiative – Act 77. Wednesday, May 28, 10am-11am. Click here to register. In this general information session, Debi Price and John Spinney from the Vermont Agency of Education will be sharing an overview of the components of Act 77 including: Personalized Learning Plans, Dual Enrollment, Early College Program, Virtual/Blended Learning and High School Completion Program. Timelines for implementation and implications for students with IEPs will be discussed. Presenters: Debora Price, Education Project Manager, Vermont Agency of Education and John Spinney, Post-Secondary Transition Specialist, Vermont Agency of Education.

Contact Vermont Family Network to Schedule a Workshop:

Vermont Family Network can provide a wide variety of free training opportunities to your group or organization upon request. To request a workshop or to receive more information about the workshops we offer, email Janice Sabett, or call 1-800-800-4005 ext. 218.

  •  Communication
  •  Education
  •  Health
  •  Parent Volunteers
  •  Transition to Adulthood

Available Workshops


Fostering Parent and Professional Collaboration – Respect, trust, open communication, and shared goals are all indicators of collaborative partnerships. In this fun and interactive workshop, participants will work in groups to identify and discuss what professionals and parents can specifically do to foster collaborative relationships.

Understanding Conflict - Even with the very best communication, conflict is normal and inevitable. The more we recognize and understand the different styles of managing conflict that we and others use, the better we become at responding to it. Join us for this participatory session where the facilitator will guide you through a process of self-discovery and growth which will include identifying your own conflict style.


Advocating for Your Child - This workshop will help parents learn about the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, tips on how to communicate effectively with your school team and acquire additional problem solving skills and advocacy strategies. Parents will also learn some tips on how to be more prepared for school meetings.

Building a Better IEP - Parents are equal partners in the development of their child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Learn about special education evaluations (and re-evaluations), what it takes to qualify for an IEP, how to develop a strong IEP, and tips for successful school meetings.

Moving On Up - Discuss steps for planning the transition from Essential Early Education (EEE) to kindergarten.

Navigating Special Education - Learn about the special education process, commonly used language and definitions used in special education and parents’ rights.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBiS) -Vermont Family Network (VFN) is working in partnership with the Vermont Department of Education, through the BEST team and the State Improvement Grant, to reach out and connect with families around the VTPBiS initiatives happening in their schools. VFN is available, and would love an opportunity to present a VTPBiS workshop for parents at your school. VFN’s presentations are free-of-charge, information-packed, and family-friendly!

Stepping Stones – Discuss steps for planning the transition from Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) (formerly FITP) to Essential Early Education (EEE). This workshop is for parents or professionals.

Let’s Get Organized! –  The focus of this workshop/roundtable conversation is assisting families in organizing their child’s records and important paperwork, like IEP’s, evaluations, medical information, etc. It is a great way to start out the school year being prepared. When we have held this workshop in other areas of the state, it has served as a nice opportunity for families to connect with each other, bring their records and put them all in a tabbed binder (which we provide) and ask questions around IEP’s, 504′s, communication techniques, and available resources.


Let’s Get Organized! – See description in previous section.

Children with Special Needs in Your Care - What might this mean for you? – A workshop for childcare providers - This interactive workshop will look at childcare providers and the role they play for children with special needs in their care. Sample topics include: What is a special need?; Tips for voicing concerns about a child’s development with his parents; The grief cycle of parents of children with special needs; and What’s out there for support for you, the child in your care and their parents?

Is It a Journey Or a Destination? Cultural & Linguistic Competency and Family-Centered Care & Support for Families of Children, Youth and Adults with Special Health Care Needs – We have all heard of family-centered care and cultural competency but how do they relate to one another? Can we have one without the other? Join us for this interactive exploration of these two powerful topics. Discover what you are already doing well and ways that you can improve yourself, your work and workplace toward cultural and family-centered care. Is it a journey or a destination? Let’s talk.

Finding Your Way in the Health Care Maze – Are you lost in the “fog” of the health care maze? Want to learn some resources and tips on “finding your way around”? Join us as we learn and discuss: Finding a doctor (Primary Care Provider), what your Primary Care Provider does for you, talking with your Primary Care Provider, basics of Health Care Financing, Green Mountain Care.

Health Care and Your Child with a focus on families who have a child with special needs – Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask…Join us as we learn and discuss: Health Care Reform/Affordable care Act in Vermont, Medical Home,  Health/Medical Insurance, Green Mountain Care, Six Ways to Access Medicaid, Your Child’s IEP and Health Related Services.

Laying the Foundation: Building a Medical Home for your Child – Learn about the new buzz word “medical home” and how your family fits into this way of delivering health care. Learn what the benefits are, how to know if your child has special health care needs, how to organize medical paperwork, and much more! Every child deserves a medical home — does your child have one?

Prepare Yourself: Preparing for emergencies for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions - To be better prepared as a community, we all must do our part to plan for disasters. Individuals with or without disabilities can decrease the impact of a disaster by taking steps to prepare BEFORE an event occurs. Join us as we discuss emergency/disaster readiness tips for families with children or adults with disabilities/special needs. But the tips can work for any family! Each registered participant receives a free bag and emergency binder.

Parent Volunteers:

Community Resource Parent Training – By becoming a Community Resource Parent, you can help Vermont Family Network support other parents. You will receive training in advocacy, peer support, communication skills, navigating the education system and accessing resources. Use these skills to help your own child or support other parents.

Support Parent Training - Parents who have just learned about their child’s diagnosis often feel helpless and alone. Talking with another parent who has experienced a similar situation can help parents feel less alone and more hopeful. In this workshop, participants who would like to serve in this role of “Supporting Parent” learn how to support other parents by using listening skills, emotional understanding, information and resources, and shared experiences. Parents will learn to understand and support in a non-judgmental manner, individuals and families with differences in thinking and perceptions, culture, family structure, socio-economic status, education, and heritage. Parents will learn to inform families of available options for advocacy, education and community access involvement.

Transition to Adulthood:

In the Driver’s Seat: Strategies for Engaging Students with Disabilities in Self Advocacy and Transition Planning - Learn about the In the Driver’s Seat curriculum, which offers a unique approach to transition planning for students with disabilities. Developed several years ago through funding from Voc-Rehab Vermont, this curriculum has been used successfully statewide to help students with disabilities take an active role in their own transition planning as they explore new friendships with others students, find their voice, and express their creativity.

Transition to Adulthood for Youth with Special Needs: What Parents Need to Know - Your child with special needs is becoming an adult and you want to help. In this workshop, we will discuss: transition planning as part of the IEP process, transition services, transfer of rights, an overview of guardianship, tips on self-advocacy and tips for parents, and resources.

What Every Parent Needs to Know as Their Child Approaches Adulthood – Take a deep breath. Your child with special needs is becoming an adult and you need to know where to start planning for the future. Please join us as we break down the to-do list into 10 digestible bits of information.

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