A Message from Massachusetts Advocates for Children
November 17, 2016
In the wake of last week’s presidential election, we have heard from many of you and felt ourselves the anxiety and fear for what the future holds. We want you to know that we are more committed than ever to our core mission: to be a voice for the children who are most marginalized and vulnerable to exclusion from educational and life opportunities.
For MAC, it always starts with the child. For 47 years, regardless of who or what party was in power – state, local or federal – we have advocated to change laws and hold institutions accountable with a singular purpose: to open the doors of opportunity and bring hope to those children and their families who face the greatest barriers, particularly those children who have disabilities, are low income and/or are racially, culturally, or linguistically diverse.
In the urgency of now, many children are afraid, are anxious: for their parents and families; for their friends and classmates; about a world that no longer feels safe. At the end of this message are links to some resources to help children and families who need immediate attention.
In the longer term, we must be prepared to mitigate at the state level in the event there are shifts in federal funding that will threaten the well-being of children and their families who already have so little, such as potential cuts to education, housing, health care, income maintenance, legal aid and other vital services. Beyond that, however, in this new age of anxiety and uncertainty, there is much that we don’t know about the future that will impact our children here in Massachusetts.
But we are prepared – we will continue our work and will join with our partners on the front lines of justice and equal opportunity to form coalitions to protect our children.
Our voice will remain strong. We know that advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. As Hubie Jones, MAC’s founder, has always reminded us, effectiveness in our advocacy is “about being a long-distance runner….The issues we’re concerned about mean having a lifetime commitment to children.”
Over the past week, we have noticed that emerging from the pain and hurt that many are feeling has been the stirrings of hope and renewal, a reaching out to connect with each other and with us at MAC. Are you still there? Are you ok? What can we do to help?
MAC has always been about bringing people together to forge solutions. Now more than ever, we must do so, expanding and growing our circles, for, as Martin Luther King wrote sitting in that Birmingham jail cell, we “are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Over the next few months and beyond, please stay tuned and stay with us as we provide you up-to-date information and ways you can help support our children in Massachusetts.
Jerry Mogul, Executive Director
For the MAC board and staff
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Community resources to help children in need
(This is intended to be helpful information for those facing an immediate need; this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of resources):
- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced the creation of a new hotline to report incidents of bias-motivated threats, harassment or violence against immigrants; racial, ethnic and religious minorities; women; and LGBTQ individuals.. You can call their office at 1-800-994-3228 to report an incident, or fill out a civil rights complaint form at this link, or contact them through one of their social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
- Mass Legal Answers Online – www.masslao.org – has just launched! It is a new way for low income Massachusetts residents to get answers from pro bono attorneys to civil legal questions. It also lists other legal resources in the state.
- You can contact MAC’s Helpline for concerns about your children in school, particularly educational barriers related to special education or school discipline- 617-357-8431 x3224
- National Alliance on Mental Illness-Massachusetts (NAMI-Massachusetts) has a phone line you can call – the NAMI Mass Compass, at 617-704-NAMI (6264)/Toll free: 800-370-9085 or email COMPASS@namimass.org. Talk with a peer or family member who has dealt with mental health issues first hand. For additional information, visit their website at: http://namimass.org/resources/compass
- From the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
Have you been bullied or harassed because of your immigrant status, or witnessed such behavior directed towards another?
File a report with the federal Office of Civil Rights at this link: http://www2.ed.gov/abo…/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html
Y también en español: https://espanol.stopbullying.gov/index.html
- Please visit the website of the Immigrant Defense Project for more information about the rights that immigrant families have in the event of encounters with federal immigration authorities.
- If you believe that your child is being bullied in school, contact the school staff right away to file a report. You may also contact the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Services: Anne Gilligan (781) 338-6309 is listed as the contact on DESE’s bullying resource page: http://www.doe.mass.edu/bullying/
- Protections for LGBTQ youth in school can be found in this GLAD info sheet: http://www.glad.org/rights/massachusetts/c/students-rights-in-massachusetts/
- Learn about trauma sensitive schools at MAC’s and Harvard Law School’s Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative’s website: www.traumasensitiveschools.org
- For educators, see the following resources:
- Resources from Teaching Tolerance, a project by the Southern Poverty Law Center, about handling the day after the 2016 election are available here.
- Curriculum information from Facing History and Ourselves https://www.facinghistory.org/
- Guidelines for school counselors from the American School Counselors Association http://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors-members/professional-development/learn-more/helping-students-after-election?utm_source=November+post-election+2016+Engage%21+Newsletter&utm_campaign=November+post-election+2016+Enews&utm_medium=email