About Us



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The Association for Special Children and Families (ASCF) is a community-based organization for families of children with disabilities. We were founded by a small group of dedicated parents in 1978 who wanted to assist other parents in the challenging role of parenting and educating a child with a disability. Our goal is to support and educate parents to advocate for their own child with a special need. We are not advocates, but parent consultants who guide and support parents. Parents are their child’s best and most effective advocate.  We give them the tools to do this on their own.

We have been here almost 4 decades helping and supporting parents who have children with disabilities.  At the beginning we were all volunteer parents who operated on small donations. Now we have 5 part time staff, consultants and many community volunteers who assist us in our programs.  We work with local partner agencies toward a common goal of helping children with special needs reach their full potential. Our parent activities are funded  by the Office of Special Education (OSEP), US Department of Education and Passaic County Department of Human Services.   Our Children’s programs are made possible through fundraising activities and community donations.

ASCF serves as the Highlands Parent Center, the first and only community parent resource center in New Jersey.

Our mission is to empower and support families to raise all their children to reach their full potential.  Our vision is that all individuals are included in their communities.

The Association for Special Children and Families:

Educates parents about their rights on how to ensure that their child’s special education individualized needs are being met

Empowers parents so they may effectively advocate for their own child

Strengthens partnership with professionals and agencies who support children with special needs

Fosters collaboration between parents and schools

Provides information and resources to families, agencies and communities

Our awards include:

Learning Disabilities Association of America Proud Projects Awards (8)

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) Parent-Professional Collaboration awards (5)

Whitney Landon award for Outstanding Service to the Children of New Jersey

National Parent Alliance Parent Center of Excellence award

Passaic County Champions of Disability award


Governing Body:

ASCF is governed by a Board of parents and professionals. The majority are parents of children and youth with disabilities.

Board President is Dennis McCartney and Vice President is Andrew Abdul. Other Trustees are Susan Fowler, Dr. Sylvia Linderman, Pat Kaminskyj, Lori-Anne Michel, Rachel Youngren, Gina McCloskey, Glynis Drakeford and Claire Lockwood.

Staff members

We have a great staff who are very dedicated to helping families and kids.  Angela is ASCF founder and Executive Director.  Our Parent Consultants teach  parents to advocate for the educational rights of their children with disabilities who are also parents of children with disabilities who understand the challenges and joys of raising a child with disabilities. Julie has been parent consultants for years. Our bilingual parent consultant is Lilly who assists Spanish-speaking parents who call or come to our office. Ellen is our receptionist. Catherine is our Social Worker. Connie and Laura are involved in our HELPS (Helping Early Learning and Play Skills) program for toddlers with disabilities.  Lori supervises our Boost tutoring program. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s development or learning, please contact our Helpline at 973-728-0999.  We welcome families, school personnel and agencies to contact our staff.


Our Highlands Parent Center has been refunded for the third time by the USDOE, OSEP. We are the only community parent resource center (CPRC) in New Jersey. Highlands supports families of babies, children and youth with the full range of disabilities living in West Milford, Ringwood, Pompton Lakes, Bloomingdale, Wanaque, Jefferson, Hamburg, Newton and Vernon.

The major purposes of Highlands are:

  1. To strengthen and support parents to nurture and advocate for their children to receive an education that prepares them to become productive, independent adults.
  2. To partner with schools, early intervention and community agencies to build understanding about disabilities and special education
  3. To connect families, schools, early intervention and agencies in cooperative experiences

Highlands Parent Center builds on the family’s strengths and fosters their self-sufficiency so that they can seize their dream for their children to lead productive, independent adult lives to the greatest degree possible.

Objectives are:

  •     To locate families of children with disabilities to inform, educate and support them
  •     To increase parents’ capacity to participate effectively in achieving quality educational  outcomes for their child
  •     To assist parents in becoming parent leaders
  •     To disseminate high quality, research-based information
  •     To create a more inclusive, accepting community

In our 2015 Survey, 92% of parents we served felt that our trainings and services were “useful”.

Parent comments were: “I go into my child’s IEP meeting more informed and with more confidence.” “The staff is great, a wealth of information and extremely helpful.” A parent who attends our support group said, “It’s comforting, I don’t feel alone. “

Join us at any of our activities and let us help you to become your child’s best advocate.

 Contact Us  and we will be in touch with you.