G.E.A.R. Parent Network and the Maine Parent Federation have announced that registration is now open for their free annual conference entitled Parenting During a Pandemic Survival Toolkit. This year, the conference will be held virtually for the first time and its agenda is tailored specifically toward parents, caregivers and educators.

Conference organizers recognize that those in caregiving positions have experienced a year unlike any other and wanted to make this educational conference as accessible as possible to those that it will benefit most.

Cindy Seekins, Director at G.E.A.R. Parent Network, explains, “We will be sharing information that parents and caregivers will benefit tremendously from. We’ll navigate topics ranging from mental health, educational obstacles, and vaccination developments during what have proven to be unprecedented times. This conference has been built entirely around the goal of providing knowledge that will empower people to make decisions and increase positive outcomes for themselves, their children, and their families”.

Dates, times, and event topics can be found below with links to more information and registration included. Conference goers can pick and choose which events they would like to attend. All are encouraged and welcome to attend what promises to be a very helpful educational experience.

2021 Annual Virtual Conference Schedule – Parenting During a Pandemic Survival Toolkit

Join as we share information you need to know to navigate mental health, educational, and vaccination topics during these unsure times. Gain knowledge that will empower you to make decisions and increase outcomes for you, your children, and your family.

March 16, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:30am | Back to In-Person Learning
Presented by:
Carrie Woodcock, Executive Director of Maine Parent Federation and Professor Michelle Grenier, Ph.D., C.A.P.E. and internationally recognized expert in the field of inclusion and adapted physical education.
Description: This webinar will include information on how to prepare your student and their IEP for back to in-person learning, how to evaluate their new present levels of performance, how to ask for the proper services, and how to gain access back into the general education setting.
Register Here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rWbtQNU-QJWQabSHNh3N3Q

March 16, 2021 | 1:00pm – 3:00pm | Recognizing the Signs of Suicide Risk & Navigating the System of Care
Presented by: Richard Chammings, LCSW, MHRT/C, MHRT/CSP, Clinical Director, Crisis & Counseling Centers. Rich has over 33 years of residential, inpatient, outpatient, emergency department, case management and crisis behavioral health treatment experience.
Description: This presentation will be a general overview of suicide statistics, in both Maine, and nationally. You will learn how to recognize early signs of potential elevated suicide risk, risk assessments, and how to navigate the system of care to effectively gain access to treatment and/or support that is needed. This presentation will allow time for participants to share current or past experiences navigating the system of care and problem solve any barriers there may have been.
Register Here: https://gearparentnetwork.org/event/recognizing-the-signs-of-suicide-risk-and-navigating-the-system-of-care/

March 17, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:30am | Surviving Parenting: Self-Care is Never Selfish
Presented by: Diane Bouffard, CFPS, Team Leader, G.E.A.R. Parent Network
Description: Self-care often becomes an afterthought for parents and caregivers and during this pandemic it is even more vital that parents and caregivers take good care of themselves both emotionally and physically. The ability to treat and understand oneself with respect and kindness can be especially elusive when raising a family and during times of significant stress. In this workshop, you will learn how stress and anxiety affect all of us and what you can do about it. You will do a self-care checkup and we will share tools to help decrease stress and create positive thinking. Join us to discover how to take care of yourself and cope when your life is full but your energy tank is running on empty.
Register Here: https://gearparentnetwork.org/event/surviving-parenting-self-care-is-never-selfish-3/

March 17, 2021 | 1:00pm – 2:30pm | Pandemic Parent Support Group
Description: Join MPF and G.E.A.R. Parent Network staff for a parent support group meeting to connect with other families who are navigating similar circumstances and challenges. Bring your questions about mental health, school issues, and vaccinations and our staff will provide you with the information, resources, and referrals to assist you in getting your needs met. During the past year with the stress, anxiety, and isolation due to COVID-19, having someone to talk to has become event more vital! The group will be facilitated by parents for parents. We have been there; we know how you feel, and you are not alone!
Register Here: https://gearparentnetwork.org/event/parent-support-group/

March 23, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:30am | Impulsivity and Disruptive Behaviors in Children and Youth
Presented by: Cindy Seekins, CFPS, Director, G.E.A.R. Parent Network
Description: All children have outbursts from time to time; however, some children have chronic problems in their ability to regulate emotions and behaviors even when adverse consequences may occur. This lack of self-control can cause significant distress or impairment in a child’s or youth’s life. A number of different diagnoses are unified by impulsive and disruptive behaviors, including oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), and impulse control disorder (ICD). In this workshop you will learn more about the disorders defined in the chapter on disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), what treatments are available, and what parents/caregivers can do to better respond to disruptive behavior.
Register Here: https://gearparentnetwork.org/event/impulsivity-disruptive-behaviors-in-children-youth/

March 23, 2021 | 1:00pm – 3:00pm | Vaccination Information
Presented by: Dr. Amy Belisle, MD, MBA and Chief Child Health Officer for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Lisa Letourneau, MD, MPD and a Senior Advisor and Delivery System Change in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Description: Join presenters as they provide the most recent information around vaccinations in the state of Maine.
Register Here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WRgXIWMoSeWohHN1pJppXA

March 24, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:30am | Compensatory Education
Presented by: Ben Jones and Atlee Riley, attorneys in Special Education at Disability Rights Maine.
Description: This presentation will provide information in regards to what COVID-19 Compensatory Services are, when it is appropriate to request these services, and how to request these services.
Register Here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_YHj0GQVZT7WaWfOXy4U_Qw

March 24, 2021 | 1:00pm – 3:00pm | Katie Beckett Waiver
Presented by: Dylan Campbell and Jodie Hall, Parent Trainers with Maine Parent Federation
Description: Join presenters for a webinar on the Katie Beckett Waiver. You will learn what the waiver is, what services you can receive through Katie Beckett, and how to apply for the Katie Beckett waiver.
Register Here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_BuaZFe4mSdqvMqmEBcVGSg

G.E.A.R. Parent Network, a program of Crisis & Counseling Centers, has been operating since 1987 and is the place where Gaining Empowerment Allows Results. G.E.A.R. Parent Network is totally run by parents for parents providing 1:1 long term parent support, educational workshops, system navigation, information, support groups and advocacy for parents of children with emotional and behavioral health concerns. Through parent-to-parent sharing of experiences and knowledge, G.E.A.R. Parent Network empowers parents of children with behavioral health needs to build on their family’s strengths and to advocate for their family’s needs.

The Maine Parent Federation has been operating since 1984 and works with families to provide information and assistance on topics ranging from specific disabilities, parenting issues, special education, family support, services and resources that assist families and professionals within homes, schools, and the community. Learn more online at, mpf.org

For more information please contact Amber Kruk at (207) 557-0534 or by email at AKruk@CrisisAndCounseling.org.