RTSC's 6th Annual Making a Difference Conference for SESPs, Foster/Adoptive and Kinship Caregivers and their Professional Partners

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel, Marlborough
SCROLL DOWN for conference Speakers, Schedule, Workshops, and more! Download our Conference App for a more engaging experience. The app will be accessible within 24-48 hours after your registration is processed. Check both the App and Website regularly for updates. Attendee Registration Fee $75 (discounted for SESPs and Foster/Adoptive/Kinship Caregivers) Exhibitor Registration Fee $100 Applications for LICSW continuing education credits have been submitted for approval.
Click to Register or for more Information





  • 14 November

Dana Royster-Buefort, M.Ed, C.A.G.S

Educator, Child and Student Advocate, Consultant
Boston Public Schools
With over 25 years of professional experience, I am well versed in a wide variety of education and child advocacy areas including special education, adoption practices, student services, foster care, community resources, and program management.

During my tenure with the Boston Public School System, I have served as an Early Childhood Liaison, Student Support Services Coordinator, Intern Supervisor, Special Education Teacher, and Special Needs Behavioral Consultant.

As an Advocate, my knowledge comes from combined experience as an adoptive parent, foster parent, special education teacher, and a special education student liaison. I’m familiar with juvenile justice, Department of Social Services, and behavioral and community mental health services. My areas of specialty can be summed up as follows:

▪ Child Advocacy
▪ Adoption Support
▪ Parenting Support
▪ Program Management
▪ Workshops
▪ Presentations

As an Educator, I have experience in early childhood, elementary special education, teaching, and inclusion practices. I have managed projects, supervised interns, served as a community liaison, written grants, and provided instruction. My areas of expertise can be summed up as follows:

▪ Early Childhood Liaison
▪ Special Education
▪ Program Management
▪ Student Services Coordinator
▪ Internship / Practicum Supervisor
▪ Appropriate Educational Placement

14 November

Rich Robison

Executive Director
Federation for Children with Special Needs

14 November

Renee Williams

RTSC Project Director
Federation for Children with Special Needs
The Recruitment, Training and Support Center (RTSC) is a project of the Federation for Children with Special Needs. Our mission is to ensure that every child in state custody receives the educational supports he or she needs to succeed. We recruit volunteers from across the state and provide them with the training and support they need to be effective Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESPs). To learn more about how to become an SESP or to access our training schedule, visit us at www.fcsn.org/rtsc/ 

For more information regarding other programs the Federation for Children with Special Needs offers to support parents and professionals, click to visit the FCSN Programs page or download the Outreach Flyer.

14 November

Michelle Poulin

Public School Monitoring Supervisor
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Michelle Poulin is the Supervisor for the Western MA team for Public School Monitoring (PSM) with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE). She supervises a team of educational specialists who monitor public schools to assist with the implementation of special education and civil rights to promote improved and sustained outcomes for students in the Commonwealth by engaging in focused school district reviews to drive reform, maintain effective practices and commend exemplars.

Michelle began her career in education as a teacher for students with emotional and behavioral challenges, and transitioned to an administrative position with the Department of Youth Services as Educational Liaison to support educational services for the students in DYS care. This was followed by 14 years as the director of the Special Education Surrogate Parent Program in a contract through the EDCO Collaborative. She is happy to once again be involved with the SESPP and the RTSC in the role of ESE liaison and contract manager for the programs.

14 November

Megan Ronzio

Special Education Surrogate Parent Program
Through a grant of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, EDCO Collaborative's Special Education Surrogate Parent (SESP) Program appoints trained volunteers to act as special education decision-makers for students who have no parent or legal guardian. In addition, the SESP Program conducts outreach efforts to DCF offices and to school districts across the state by offering trainings and informational materials. The SESP Program works in partnership with the Massachusetts Federation for Children with Special Needs, which is responsible for volunteer recruitment, training and support.


14 November

Denise Fisher

Occupational Therapist OTR/L M.S.
Horizons Therapy Services
Denise Fisher is an Occupational Therapist who has over thirty years of experience as a clinician, working primarily in the educational system with children of all ages and disabilities. She was a district coordinator for Assistive Technology and responsible for creating programs to ensure student success in areas of sensory motor development and curriculum access. She has extensive experience providing trainings for students, staff, parents and care givers, and taught classes at the University level. She currently works in private practice and in the AZ public schools.

14 November

Erica Sarro

Adolescent Clinical case manager
I am currently a student at Salem state University finishing my MSW with a concentration in Mental health. I am also a Family Partner working along side families struggling with mental health/substance abuse and other barriers. I have worked with transitional age youth who age out of DCF care and youth that stay voluntarily past 18. I am a mother of four, my oldest in residential care and turning 18 in less then one year. I look forward to sharing my struggles and barriers along with successes and resources that have helped this special population.

14 November

Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett, M.D. ScD

Associate Professor, Pediatrics
Boston Medical Center - Vital Villages
Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett, M.D. ScD is a pediatrician and social epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center. She is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. She received her AB from Princeton University, her MD from Yale School of Medicine, and ScD in Social Epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health, and completed residency in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her work focuses on early-life adversities as life course social determinants of health. She has a specific concentration on psychosocial stress and neuroendocrine and reproductive health outcomes, including obesity, puberty, and reproductive health. She is interested in the intersection of community violence, intimate partner violence, and child abuse and neglect and neighborhood characteristics that influence these patterns. Her current work is developing community-based strategies to promote child well-being and prevent child abuse and neglect.

14 November

Joseph Moldover, PsyD, ABPP/cn

Clinical Neuropsychologist
Independent Practice
Dr. Moldover is a Developmental Neuropsychologist in independent practice in Wellesley, MA. He provides developmental and educational evaluations for children and adolescents with learning, developmental, neurological and psychiatric disorders. He is online at www.drmoldover.com.

14 November

Dr. Claire Crane

Community School Center at Salem State University
Dr. Claire Crane has had a long career with the Lynn, Massachusetts, public schools the last 25 years as principal of the Robert L. Ford K-8 School. She worked in partnership with community organizations that included Salem State University and North Shore Community College developing the Ford School into a nationally recognized full service community school. Ford became a comprehensive center for PK-adult learning, social, health and family services, and a valuable resource and support for the culturally diverse Highlands community it serves. The “community school concept” lifted Ford from the lowest to one of the highest performing schools in the city and provided legions of children and their families with learning experiences that improved their lives and futures in concrete ways. Moving from school-based practice to effect systemic change, she has carried the community school message forward to policy-makers, community leaders and teacher educators, presenting at conferences and accepting speaking invitations at universities, school districts and community groups across the nation. On Dr. Crane’s retirement, she has focused efforts to disseminate the model on the establishment of a Center for Community Schools at her alma mater, Salem State University.

14 November

Lucinda Mills

Pupil Adjustment Counselor/School Social Worker
Boston Public Schools
Lucinda Mills is a Pupil Adjustment Counselor/ School Social Worker in the Behavioral Health Services department at Boston Public Schools. She is also a trainer and consultant on topics such as trauma, mental health,deescalation and social emotional learning. She has over 20 years of experience working with children and families on social emotional issues, trauma, special education, multicultural issues, individual and group counseling. She holds a master of social work degree in clinical social work from Boston College. She is a community board member on Northeastern University Institute for Race and Justice.

14 November

Shirley Fan-Chan

K-12 Education Manager
MA Department of Children and Families
Coming  Soon

14 November

Christine (Cissy) White

Parenting with ACEs, Group Manager & Community Facilitator
ACEs Connection Network
Christine Cissy White is a writer, health activist, trauma survivor, and speaker. She is the founder of Heal Write Now. Christine has been published in The Boston Globe, Ms. Magazine online, Spirituality and Health magazine, Elephant Journal, The Mighty, Psych Central, To Write Love on Her Arms, Role Reboot, The Center for Health Journalism and The Fix. Her advocacy work has been written about in Atlantic Monthly, Revelist, Huffington Post and The Mighty. Her work focuses on adverse childhood experiences, traumatic stress and the long-term health and well-being of trauma survivors. Christine blends research, interviews and personal experience throughout her speaking engagements. She’s co-founder of the #FacesOfPTSD campaign and currently manages the Parenting with ACEs group on the ACEs Connection Network.

Website: www.acesconnection.com

14 November

Janine Rodenhiser-Hill

Head of Outreach and Education
Center For Early Detection, Assessment and Response to Risk (CEDAR), BIDMC
Janine Rodenhiser-Hill, PhD, is an Instructor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). A licensed psychologist and Health Service Provider, she serves as Head of Community Outreach, clinical supervisor and diagnostic interviewer in the CEDAR Clinic, an early detection and intervention/ research center focusing on early psychotic spectrum illnesses. She coordinates psycho-educational programs for community practitioners, social service agencies, and school systems emphasizing the benefits of early detection and intervention. She also assists families in better understanding psychosis and treatment options. Her previous work experience includes positions as an Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at UTSW Medical Center and Research Scientist II at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute.

14 November

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

At Seyfarth Shaw, we are leading the way to deliver legal services more effectively, more efficiently, more transparently.
Seyfarth Shaw LLP provides thoughtful, strategic, practical legal counsel to client companies and legal teams of all sizes. With more than 850 attorneys in the U.S., London, Shanghai, Melbourne and Sydney, we offer a national platform and an international gateway to serve your changing business and legal needs in litigation, employment, corporate, real estate and employee benefits.

Justice Resource Institute (JRI)

JRI is dedicated to addressing the most confounding challenges of both the human services and educational systems and the persons and families these systems were created to serve. JRI pursues the social justice inherent in opening doors to opportunity and independence. Although our range of services is as varied as those we serve, our approach is uniformly characterized by compassionate support, innovation, and community leadership.  JRI seeks new knowledge and improved evidence-based practice, in research and in the field, in order to inform our continuous search for excellence in service.

Federation for Children with Special Needs

Since 1974, the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) has grown from a grassroots parent group to a nationally recognized organization serving more than 45,000 families and their children with special needs annually. Recognized locally and nationally as a pioneering organization that advocates for quality education, strong parent participation and access to quality health care services for all children, especially those with disabilities, our mission is to provide information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities. We are committed to listening to and learning from families, and encouraging full participation in community life by all people, especially those with disabilities.

Contact FCSN at www.fcsn.org

Recruitment, Training and Support Center (RTSC)

The Recruitment, Training and Support Center (RTSC) for Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESPs), is a project of the Federation for Children with Special Needs a nonprofit organization. Our primary mission is to recruit community volunteers willing to make a difference in a child’s life by becoming an SESP for children in state care or custody that require special education services.

Federal education law requires a student's parents or guardians be included in the special education decision-making process. However, children in state custody may not have anyone to fill that role. Students who qualify for SESPs face many challenges including special education needs, the lack of a parent or legal guardian to advocate for them and frequent home and/or school changes. Some have had traumatic experiences including abuse, death of a loved one and separation from siblings and friends. For these children, an appropriate education can be a lifeline to the tools they need to grow into successful adults.

SESPs are volunteers who assist in making educational decisions for individual students. Once appointed these volunteers have the full legal authority of a parent or legal guardian to attend Team meetings, approve or reject Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and, if necessary, file a complaint or appeal. On average an SESP only spends about 20-30 hours a year volunteering their time.

RTSC strives to meet the needs of these students by recruiting volunteers from across the state and providing them with the training and support they need to be effective SESP. We host 2-3 Orientation Trainings each month throughout the state of Massachusetts.

Contact us if you are interested in learning more about the program and/or would like to sign up for an upcoming orientation. You can view our upcoming orientation schedule here: http://fcsn.org/rtsc/orientations/

Click to view our Archived Monthly Webinars 

Purple Umbrella Jewelry

Unique Handmade Jewelry
"many artists under one umbrella"

Special Needs Advocacy Network, Inc.

SPaN is a membership organization of Special Education Advocates, attorneys and and parent advocates. SPaN works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, as well as the members of greater special education community. SPaN produces monthly on-site and webinar educational presentations, and registration is open to all. Monthly networking in-person sessions provide attendees the opportunity to connect with individuals with shared interests, and to expand their knowledge base and confidence in advocating for individuals with disabilities. IEP clinics are scheduled throughout the school year upon request by SEPACs and other organizations, and offer parents an option for a no-cost check-up on the their child's IEP with an experienced advocate. Our Professional Directory is a statewide listing of member advocates who have committed to following the SPaN code of ethics and minimum requirements for annual professional development hours. This invaluable resource is offered at no cost to parents who are seeking an advocate. For more information and to access the professional directory, please go to; www.spanmass.org

Registration, Continental Breakfast, Exhibitors & Networking

08:00 AM 08:30 AM

Federation Welcome

08:30 AM 08:45 AM


DESE Welcome

08:45 AM 09:00 AM


Managing the Hearts and Souls of Many

09:00 AM 10:00 AM

Dana has over 25 years of professional experience and is well versed in a wide variety of education and child advocacy areas including special education, adoption practices, student services, foster care, community resources, and program management. She is also an SESP!



10:00 AM 10:15 AM

Creating a Safe Environment and Promoting Educational Success in Childhood Trauma

10:15 AM 11:15 AM

This workshop will address the manifestations of childhood trauma on cognitive skills, sensory motor development, and behavioral responses. Descriptions of overall processing of sensory systems will be presented, along with examples of behaviors related to poor registration and integration of sensory information. Material presented will also focus on the effects of trauma on the executive functioning skills of a child. Key components of successful daily sensory regimes will be discussed including recommended strategies, modalities and tools as implemented into the educational program.


Tackling ACEs by Building Resilient Communities

10:15 AM 11:15 AM


Transition age youth. Options and Obstacles

10:15 AM 11:15 AM

A look from a family partners, clinical practitioners and personal perspective on the barriers that face many transition age youth, and how we as providers can help set these children up for success. Barriers and services to consider before the child reaches that magical age.



11:15 AM 11:30 AM

What are we Testing? Making Child and Adolescent Evaluation's Effective

11:30 AM 12:30 PM

Obtaining an effective developmental evaluation is critical for navigating the special education and mental health systems. Too often, communication between evaluators, parents/caregivers, clinicians, and schools is hindered by differences in language and perspective, and these issues are frequently exacerbated by the complications of childhood trauma. This presentation will provide an overview of the evaluation process with an emphasis on understanding the role of trauma and post-traumatic symptoms, as well as discussing ways in which parents and caregivers may maximize the effectiveness of an evaluation in developing educational and clinical plans.


Community Schools: Identifying Needs, Effective Implementation and Sustainability

11:30 AM 12:30 PM

Community Schools and Supports

l.  Communiity Schools:  Dr. Clair Crane

As a school principal for the past twenty five years and currently as director of the Community School Center at Salem State University, I have had the opportunity to work with parents, researchers, school administrators, teachers, and federal officials. I am going to share examples of excellent practices and ideas for starting and running a community school.
A community school will help give our children the high quality of education they deserve. Many years of research show that involving families and the community will contribute to our children’s academic and social success.
A successful community is where everyone belongs, works together, and thrives. The schools become centers and are open to everyone all day, every day, including evenings and weekends. Some examples of how they function are as follows: neighborhood meetings, crime watch meetings, tutoring–Saturdays and weekdays during the summers, safety classes by police/fire, etc., tax help services, and night school for GED-ESL and citizenship.

Community Supports:  Silverlinings


Addressing the Cultural and Social Emotional Needs of Children in Foster Care

11:30 AM 12:30 PM

Coming Soon


Lunch, Exhibits, Networking, Book signing

12:30 PM 01:45 PM

SESPP Welcome - Program Stats

01:45 PM 02:00 PM



02:00 PM 02:15 PM

Every Student Succeed Act 2015 - Foster Care Provision Overview

02:15 PM 03:15 PM

According to the United States Department of Education, approximately 400,000 children and youth are in foster care system nationwide at any given time. A positive PK-12 education experience has the potential to be a powerful counterweight to the abuse, neglect, separation, impermanence and other barriers these vulnerable students experience. Additionally, participation in and persistence to a postsecondary credential can enhance their well-being, help them make more successful transitions to adulthood, and increase their chances for personal fulfillment and economic self-sufficiency. (U.S. DOE) National study suggests that only one third of foster care students received high school diploma in four years; twice likely to drop out and 2-3 times likely to repeat a grade. (Legal Center for Foster Care & Education) Foster children and youth face many barriers to succeed in school. School mobility is one of the major factors that impact education stability and success.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 2015 under the Elementary and Secondary Act addresses the school success and stability for foster care students who may have been underserved. ESSA encourages LEAs to collaborate with child welfare agencies ensuring children in foster care achieve higher education outcome. This presentation, in response to the new policy focusing student success in foster care, will discuss the content of the policy with the highlights of the ESSA foster care provision.

This federal policy recommends several key elements for education agencies and child welfare agencies to implement once the law was signed in 2015. Many states are still in the process of crafting and planning the implementation. The presenter will provide an overview in how the federal policy being implemented in MA. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss and share about their experiences with the presenter. The learning and sharing discussion will allow participants to have a better sense of what works and what does not work during the planning and implementation process.


Parenting is My Super Power & Self-Care is My Second Language

02:15 PM 03:15 PM

What is it like for an adult, abused as a child, to become a parent? What is it like for someone to balance parenting with post-traumatic stress? Repeatedly, the author asks, "How can I teach what I never learned, what I'm still learning while also parenting?"

Cissy shares how and why it is so hard to stay present, attached, available and attuned, and why it's crucial to both healing and parenting to do so. She'll share her journey to parenting, after trauma, and how learning about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) shifted her healing perspective and informed her parenting. She'll discuss the varied approaches that have (and do) support her healing and how to make concepts such as the brain's neuroplasticity a little less clinical and a lot more conversational.

The author speaks from a combination of personal and professional experiences as writer, mother, reporter, parent via adoption and trauma survivor. She cares about the daily ways in which developmental trauma impacts parents and how we work, love, parent and play day to day. Cissy will also read a few short excerpts from her published writing during her talk.


Recognizing and Responding To Risk for Psychotic Spectrum Illnesses

02:15 PM 03:15 PM

This training is devised to help clinicians and family members in identifying the early signs and symptoms (prodrome) of psychotic spectrum illnesses. We will explore psychotic spectrum illnesses as a whole and differential diagnostic classifications (e.g., Autism Spectrum disorder, ADHD, OCD, Substance Use and Trauma). We will also explore early intervention options and provide a better understanding of the first episode services that reduce the duration of untreated psychotic illnesses and potentially improve clinical outcomes and patient's lives.


Check-Out, Evaluations, CEUs

03:15 PM 03:30 PM