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This Year's Annual Family Cafe

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The first and most important concern for The Family Cafe, our Board of Directors, and The Family Cafe Planning Committee has always been the health, safety, and well-being of the people with disabilities and families we serve. When we first began talking about the coronavirus pandemic and how it might impact our event weeks ago, we knew that whatever action we took would be guided by that concern.

Now that the time for The 22nd Annual Family Cafe is almost here, it's clear that it won't be safe to gather thousands of attendees together the way we usually do. That's why we've put plans in place to transform The 22nd Annual Family Cafe into a virtual event.

Despite the change we've been forced to make, we are committed to bringing you as much of the information and resources that you would find at a face-to-face Annual Family Cafe as we possibly can.



What will a virtual version of The 22nd Annual Family Cafe look like? Here's what we have planned:

The virtual 22nd Annual Family Cafe will kick off on Friday, June 5th. Instead of three days, we'll be spreading things out over two weeks. Live content will be streamed through our Facebook page at twice daily at 11 AM ET and 2 PM ET between Friday, June 5th and Friday, June 19th, with the exception of Sunday the 7th and Sunday the 14th.


This virtual content will include a number of live streamed breakout sessions, which will allow for moderated Q&A. All three of our scheduled Keynote speakers will be part of the agenda, and the virtual event will also include The Annual Governor's Summit on Disabilities with content provided by Gov. DeSantis and Senate President Bill Galvano. Over the two weeks, The Family Cafe will also be posting content from partners including the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, Pyramid Players, and others that usually take part in The Annual Family Cafe.

The Family Cafe has printed a full event program, with descriptions of every breakout session, including both those that will be part of the live virtual event and those that had been planned for the face-to-face event but could not be delivered live. The program includes contact information for the presenters so families can reach out to them with questions. Every attendee registered before May 1st will receive a program in the mail, and it can also be found online here. We are also inviting presenters that could not be included in the live virtual event to share their presentation materials with us, so we can make them available to you electronically.

You also might be wondering about the Exhibit Hall, which usually hosts dozens of vendors, organizations, and agencies. While you won't be able to walk the hall and speak to exhibitors in person, we have developed an Exhibitor Catalog with information about our planned 2020 exhibitors, including micro-enterprises, and self-advocate authors scheduled to take part in our first-ever Book Fair. As with the program, attendees registered by May 1st will receive and Exhibitor Catalog by mail, and it's also online here.  


While we certainly understand that our decision to move to a virtual event may come as a disappointment to many of you, please remember that we are choosing this path out of our desire to keep everyone we serve safe and healthy. We will truly miss seeing everyone in Orlando this June, and we'll be counting the days until we can come together again in 2021!



Since 1998, The Annual Family Cafe has brought together thousands of individuals with disabilities and their family members for three days of information, training and networking each June. With a great range of individual breakout sessions, a packed Exhibit Hall with dozens of vendors, and a series of special events including Keynote speakers and The Governors’ Summit on Disabilities, The Annual Family Café offers families exposure to a wide range of public and private resources, opportunities to find support by networking with other families, and unprecedented access to policy-making officials.

The 22nd Annual Family Cafe will be a virtual event held in June!

The Family Cafe remains committed to connecting attendees with information and resources at minimal cost, so there is no registration fee for individuals with disabilities and their family members.

The Registration Brochure for The 22nd Annual Family Cafe is available for download here. It includes information on the event and how to register. Please feel free to share it with anyone in your community that might be interested in our event! 

For regular updates and additional information, please join our mailing list . You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay in touch.

The 22nd Annual Family Cafe promises to be a truly remarkable event for Floridians with disabilities and their families, and we very much hope you will be able to attend!

"See" you in June!

Creating a New Path for Yourself & Others: A Virtual Pre-Conference Summit

Summit virtual logoThe Family Cafe invites you to attend a special virtual pre-conference event: Creating a New Path for Yourself & Others.

As The 22nd Annual Family Cafe is now a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic, this pre-conference event, which was previously scheduled as a day-long event for women and female caregivers, will now take place across two weeks before The 22nd Annual Family Cafe virtual event, and be open to all, without prior registration. It will be hosted on Facebook Live at

This virtual wellness pre-con will take place in eight segments, Tuesdays through Fridays at 11 AM ET, over two weeks. Week 1 will run from Tuesday, May 19th through Friday, May 22nd; Week 2 will run from Tuesday, May 26th through Friday, May 29th.

Here's what's on the agenda:

Week 1
Tuesday, May 19th - Creating A New Path Forward with Paula Petry, PhD, followed by Finding your Rhythm Going Forward with taiko drummer Ben Miller
Wednesday, May 20th - Brain Wellness for Times of Turmoil with Cynthia L. Dougherty, Ph.D.
Thursday, May 21st - Breath, Sing & Shake with female vocal group Brazilian Voices
Friday, May 22nd - A Release, Restore & Relax Yoga with Lisa Brown, founder of Free Flowing Health

Week 2
Tuesday, May 26th - Resetting Your Nervous System with Paula Petry, PhD
Wednesday, May 27th - Sing, Move & Groove to Beats of a Drum (Family Event) with musician and sound healer Jeff Deen
Thursday, May 28th - Pathways to Peace Through Expressive Arts with expressive artist Dana Pezoldt
Friday, May 29th - Universal Law of Attraction & Planting New Seeds in Your Garden with Paula Petry, PhD

The Family Cafe understands that this is an especially stressful time for people with disabilities and their families, and we want to do what we can to help you stay mentally and spiritually well. It's our hope that our pre-conference wellness event, Creating a New Path for Yourself & Others, will help you do that!

Special Ed Connection: A Resource for Families of Students with Disabilities

special ed connectIs your child receiving special education services?

Gain a better understanding of special education processes and learn how to help your child benefit from special education services by accessing Special Ed Connection ®. Here are just a few of the resources waiting for you:

  • News and updates on the latest news and developments in the special education community.   
  • Tools that can help you learn how to be more actively involved in meeting the special education needs of your family member.
  • Smart Starts that provide a quick way to gain a better understanding of almost 450 special education topics, federal regulations, case law, assistive technology, and how the special education law applies to your family member.
  • A Special Ed Online Dictionary that lists more than 1400 widely-used terms with straightforward, easily-understood definitions.
  • Special Ed Round-Ups that offer a fast and easy way to quickly access best practices on hundreds of special education issues from autism to bullying to post-secondary transition and more.

The Florida Department of Education is proud to provide access to Special Ed Connection ® at no cost to families of individuals with disabilities who are enrolled in special education programs. To request access to this valuable resource, visit the FDLRS Special Ed Connection page and follow the Special Ed Connection Parent Contact link at the bottom, or call or email your FDLRS office to find out which Parent Contact serves your county.

The Family Cafe Disability Advocacy Hour Podcast - Episode 2: Coronavirus and Disability

podcastimgThe second installment in The Family Cafe Disability Advocacy Hour Podcast is now available!

With Floridians with disabilities trying to figure out how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, this episode focuses on the experience one self-advocate had getting tested and living through quarantine. Sheltering in place can be tough for anyone, but for people with disabilities and their families, things can be even more complicated. Check out our podcast to hear the story of how one person got through it, and get some advice about how to take care of yourself in this difficult time.

Check out Episode 2 of The Family Cafe Disability Advocacy Hour Podcast here.

If you'd like to listen Episode 1 with Jack Levine, you can find it here.

The April CAN Newsletter

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The Family Cafe is pleased to bring you the latest edition of the Change Agent Network newsletter.

It will probably come as no surprise to you that we decided to dedicate this issue of the CAN newsletter to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We have included important information from the Florida Department of Health, and a reminder about the need to ensure equal educational opportunity for students with disabilities as school districts move to online learning. As this situation presents unique challenges for people with disabilites, we also share some things to keep in mind for that specific population.

Remember, you can find reliable information on what's happening and how to make good decisions for public health and your own wellbeing from the Florida Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization. Please do your best to keep yourself and your loved ones safe!

You can find the April edition of the CAN newsletter online here.

Attend The 2020 FROM Pre-Con

TFROM logohe Family Cafe invites all family-run organization leaders and advocates to a special pre-conference event hosted by the Family-Run Organization Movement. The mission of FROM is to engage, support, empower and advocate for family, youth and peer-run organizations.

No matter where your family-run organization is in the nonprofit life cycle, FROM has an exciting opportunity for you: a day-long event valuable for both startups and seasoned organizations, and all those in between. Join us for the FROM pre-con to assess your status, plan your next steps, figure out your roadblocks and opportunities, and leave with an action plan for moving your family-run organization forward.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the FROM pre-con will now be hosted as a virtual event, with no registration fee.

This popular event is sure to fill up quickly, so act soon! Find the registration form here.

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