Take a moment, if you can, to check out an April 1975 letter from Harvey Liebergott, then with the Bureau of Information for the Handicapped in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, notifying Martha Ziegler forty years ago this week of a grant of around $25, 000 to fund a pilot program under which the nascent Federation for Children with Special Needs was to play a key role in the development of systems to support regional information and referral centers throughout the country. He estimated that a fully operational system of regional information and referral centers would cost on the order of ten million dollars – an amount that he could see “no chance of ever getting” – and he urged Martha to “think of the project realistically as a model that could be utilized nationwide to solve the most immediate problems of handicapped children with limited resources, and not as an ideal for solving all of the information and referral needs of parents in your particular state.”
Needless to say, the Federation took that $25,000, ran with it and became the gold standard of parent training and support agencies, then and now.
Rich Robison, the Director of the Federation, shared this wonderful bit of advocacy history this week. He himself celebrated his 18th anniversary as the Federation’s Director yesterday, and we thank and congratulate him for all the tremendous work he has done through all those years – marked as they have been by enormous fiscal and political challenges – to sustain and expand the Federation’s role as a powerful voice and indispensible resource in the world of special education training and advocacy.