Chris Walsh Center for Educators and Families Receives Grant to Offer Support Group for Parents of Children with Disabilities

Chris Walsh Center for Educators and Families Receives Grant to Offer Support Group for Parents of Children with Disabilities

Feb 1, 2024

As the Chris Walsh Center for Educators and Families nears its 4-year anniversary of providing support to local educators and families with students who have disabilities and unmet needs, it continues to ramp up the free resources it offers to these communities.

One of the latest initiatives is a free parent support group and webinar series funded by an $18,500 grant from the Sudbury Foundation.

“The support group will run for five weeks beginning in March,” says Emily Farnhill, a graduate assistant at the Walsh Center who is currently pursuing her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology. “Each session is focused on topics that relate to building family resiliency and supporting the mental well-being of children with disabilities.”

The support group, which was also offered last fall, provides parents and caregivers a place to learn from and support one another. The group is facilitated by FSU Professor Deborah McMakin, Ed.D., LICSW and Jessica Ames, LICSW.

In addition, the Center will also be hosting six webinars for families this spring. These webinars will include topics such as introduction to social-emotional learning & resources to support children’s development, building resiliency among sibling of youth with disability and disability awareness and acceptance of a child’s diagnosis.

“The research shows that kids with disabilities suffer from mental health concerns at a higher rate than the general population,” says Dr. Therese Ajtum-Roberts, Director of the Walsh Center. “This not only takes a toll on these children, but also their caregivers. Our mission is to provide the resources and guidance needed to support these families.”  

Finally, to advance its mission of supporting teachers, the Walsh Center is also co-sponsoring an educational speaker series with the Chile Massachusetts Alliance, which brings teachers to local institutions in order to facilitate the transfer of best educational practices between the United State and Chile. Topics for the series include: Teaching Happiness; Multilingual Mindfulness; and Wellbeing & Emotional Resilience for Teachers.

The Chris Walsh Center was established by Framingham State University in 2019 and is named in memory of former Framingham State Representative Chris Walsh, who was a longtime advocate for providing additional information and support to students and families in MetroWest during his time in the legislature.

The center provides undergraduate students with paid internships to support their degree progress and career readiness in various fields including Education, Psychology, Sociology, Spanish, and more

To learn more about these and other initiatives at the Chris Walsh Center for Educators and Families, and to register for event, visit

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.