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Free Program Helps Katy Families Navigate the Complex Special Education Process


April 8, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

Many Katy families struggle with understanding the complex special education process. To help these families, the Arc of Katy and the Kingsland Baptist Church Special Needs Ministry are teaming up to offer the community a free seminar. The program will focus on the importance of the collaboration between the home and school in the special education process.

Photo credit: Marifi Escobar

Seminar to be Held during World Autism Month

The “Arc of Katy Empowerment Through Knowledge” program will be held on Wednesday, April 14 from 6-7:30 p.m. Guests are welcome to attend in person at the Kingsland Baptist Church at 20555 Kingsland Blvd. or watch virtually.

Learn more about the seminar including the Zoom login details here.

School Namesake to Present Program

Fred Shafer, President of the Board for the Arc of Katy, will present the seminar. He has over 40 years of experience in special education as a director of special education at the district and regional level, Texas Education Agency special education monitor and independent consultant. Katy ISD also honored Fred and his wife Patti as the namesakes of Shafer Elementary school.

Help Families Navigate Special Education Process, IEP Meetings

The empowerment seminar will provide Katy families with information on navigating the complex and challenging special education process. It will focus on home and school collaboration and more effective Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.

Masks Not Required, But Recommended

"The room will be large enough for social distancing," says Shafer. " Masks will not be required but recommended. Parents may also attend virtual via Zoom.

The Arc of Katy, a local non-profit organization, provides opportunities for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“Some participants do have the autism diagnosis,” says Fred Shafer. “Oftentimes, autism is a dual diagnosis with intellectual disabilities.”

Arc of Katy Adapts through COVID

The Arc pf Katy continues to offer services although they have had to adapt throughout the pandemic. While the organization celebrates its 30-year anniversary, they have had to cancel their Hometown Heroes Gala, their big annual fundraiser and community event.

“We are not able to do what we’d like to do,” says Shafer.

The group is offering both virtual and limited in-person gatherings.

“Our participants enjoy being together,” says Shafer. “It has been difficult isolating and being away from their peers.”

Due to COVID protocols, in-person gathers are limited to 16 people, including instructors. Masks are required and mask training is provided up front.

Shafer recalls a group telling him to put on his own mask as he exited his car in the parking lot.

“They have been great,” says Shafer. “They understand the importance of wearing the masks.”

According to Shafer, the virtual programs and virtual socials have been successful.

“They love seeing each other,” says Shafer. “Even if it is on a screen.”

Though they have had to adapt in the pandemic world, the Arc of Katy is doing well and continues to offer services to local families.

“We’re going strong,” says Shafer. “Like many non-profits, the pandemic has been hard. We’re not where we’d like to be but we’re doing ok.”

Learn more about the Arc of Katy and their services at their website.


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