Specially Yours Conference Slated for May 5

An upcoming conference hosted by the Kern County Consortium SELPA focuses on providing parents of children with special needs the education, resources, and tools needed to help empower parents to make the best decisions for their children.

The fourth bi-annual conference, titled “Specially Yours,” will focus on behavior, academic, and social regression and how to combat COVID-19’s effects on children with special needs.

“This conference was created to give our parents access to professional learning and networking opportunities as it relates to families of students with special needs,” said SELPA coordinator Melissa Wood. “There’s a lot of information out there, and these families need support to determine the best course of action for their children. Our goal is always to provide best-practices strategies, delivered by experts in the field, so parents can have access to what they need to serve their children and families best.”

With many well-respected speakers who are local to Kern County slated to speak, parents will be able to directly hear and ask questions to a panel with extensive experience in education.

Wood, who has been in her role for two years, says a lot of planning and preparation happens in the year before the conference, paying particular attention to providing information on what parents care about most.

Specifically, the Kern County SELPA works directly with a Community Advisory Committee consisting of parents, school administrators, and community members who meet on a bi-monthly basis to discuss various special education topics.

“We usually meet with our Community Advisory Committee at least four or five times a year to solicit information on the types of content and training parents want to hear more about at the conference,” said Wood.

Renee Gonzalez, a parent of a child with special needs and the Community Advisory Committee chairperson, says attending these conferences provide a tremendous amount of helpful information that parents may not have even realized existed.

“I feel like a lot of parents might not have a clear idea of what is expected, like with an Individualized Education Program (IEP),” said Gonzalez.

“They gave us a run-down [at the last conference] on what to expect, questions to ask, and how to seek additional services when there are no improvements.”

Gonzalez and many other parents are tremendously thankful for this opportunity. Many who attend speak about not fully comprehending their rights as parents and are grateful to receive tools and resources to help them be successful.

Typically, over 250 parents, volunteers, school administrators, specialists, and community agencies attend this conference. However, with COVID-19, organizers have limited seats to maintain social distancing.

HOW TO GO:

Out of an abundance of caution, due to the rise in local COVID-19 cases in Kern County, the tough decision has recently been made to postpone the Specially Yours Parent Conference, originally scheduled for Friday, January 21, 2022 from 7:30 a.m. -3:00 p.m. at Hodel’s Restaurant.

We believe the parents in our community deserve a space to network, access expert knowledge and engage with the community in regards to doing what is best for their children; however, with the increase in COVID cases locally, we did not feel it was safe to do so with an in-person event at this time.

Please note that our Specially Yours Parent Conference has been moved to Friday, May 20, 2022 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hodel’s Restaurant! We will continue to honor those who have already registered for the event, and encourage others to join us in the spring.

Admission is just $10 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Tickets can be purchased by clicking HERE.