Dear SNSC Community,
SNSC has always been committed to building a community where everyone has opportunities and support to pursue their goals and aspirations; this is our mission on behalf of all individuals with disabilities and their families. A continuous string of terrifying events has brought back into sharp focus the fact that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) continue to be unsafe in our country.
Additionally, educational achievement gaps are closely tied to disability, race and poverty. Action is needed to address these gaps and make sure the nation’s aspirations to equal opportunity are realized. In Vermont, students of color and students with disabilities experience exclusionary discipline, seclusion, and restraints at rates two to three times than their neurotypical non-black peers.  Restraints should never be used as a disciplinary strategy. Studies have demonstrated that these actions triple the likelihood of contact with the juvenile justice system. Studies from the Council of State Governments also found that lowering exclusionary discipline improves school climate, keeps students engaged in learning, and improves lifelong success.  Positive behavior interventions and supports, non-punitive response protocols, restorative justice and associated professional development improves school climate and academic achievement for all students.
Our staff and board agree that it is essential to make a public statement against economic, education, health, and justice systems anchored in systemic racism. Choosing to remain silent supports an existing, inequitable power differential. Previously, we have focused our conversations within our staff and board community. As the impact of these racist systems becomes more visible to all of us, we realize that our conversations must find a wider audience. Those in our community who have disabilities and are also BIPOC face and endure compounded hardships because of the reality of intersectional oppression. And we recognize that this work is a lifelong endeavor, and that action must be taken within a community of support.
We are raising our collective voice to be one of many advocating for active work against the profound structural inequities in favor of white people in all aspects of our society. We stand in solidarity with the work of community organizations that are striving for the progression of economic, social, and political equality of all people in this nation.

Working against racism, ableism and oppression in all its forms requires our individual and collective energy and courage. This work on behalf of individuals with disabilities and their families who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color requires particular awareness and focus and there is much to be done. We are committed to this ongoing work. Thus we are working towards cultural competency and anti-racist practices throughout our organization by:

  • Creating and adopting a formal, accessible Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement that will guide the thoughts, actions, and inclusive initiatives propelled by our organization.
  • Presenting substantive learning opportunities and sessions on diversity, inclusion, and equity to provide information and resources internally, and within the communities we serve, especially within the education systems, law enforcement agencies, and Vermont and New Hampshire legislators.
  • Training our hiring team on equitable practices to address and remove unconscious bias towards those with disabilities and Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
  • Challenging systems and policies that create inequity, oppression and disparity through our platform as community leaders focused on children with disabilities and their families. We recognize the profoundly increased burden on children and adults who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and have disabilities.

With respect and gratitude to our Upper Valley Community,

Laura Perez                      Rose-Marie McCullough                Jo-Anne Unruh
Executive Director          Co-President                                    Co-President
Allen Abendroth, Board
Alexis Alston, Board
Carmen Champney, Staff
Owen Daniel-McCarter, Staff
Paula Fernandes, Board
Nils Fredland, Staff
Sue Hagerman, Board
Vince Mennona, Board
Meg Seely, Board
Nicki Thrall, Staff
Barbara van Hoff, Board
Emma Woloshin, Staff

Youth and Teen Services Intake

Step 1 of 4

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY

Adult Services Intake

Step 1 of 4

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY

Green Mountain Self-Advocates have released a new resource on COVID-19 for individuals with ID/DD. This resource is an 8-page booklet about the Coronavirus written in plain language. It was created by and for people with developmental disabilities. It focuses on “need to know” information.

Please check out and share the  English Version and Spanish Version!

In the spirit of living well and taking care of each other, the Special Needs Support Center’s (SNSC’s) staff will be diverting time from program planning to emergency response efforts in the community.  To continue to meet their mission, their team will be joining efforts with partners to ensure access to vital resources remain available to the most vulnerable in our community, including people with disabilities and their families.  They will be delivering meals, supporting residential facilities, and reaching out to other partners in the community to see how their team can safely and effectively serve during these uncertain times.


“As we see a slowdown in programs in response to COVID-19 we remain absolutely committed to our responsibility to serve our community,” said Executive Director Laura Perez.   “We will uphold our commitment to be responsive and responsible as we proudly work together to create a community where people with special needs, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, can live their best lives.”

SNSC’s plan serves the most vulnerable in the community in meaningful and responsive ways during this emergency.  Additionally, the plan promotes economic vitality by preserving SNSC staff employment. Their community service during this time is in line with their mission and core belief that people are the most valuable asset of the organization.

“SNSC’s Board of Director’s is overwhelmingly supportive of this plan while also recognizing how critical the safety of our staff is,” said Board President, Jo-Anne Unruh. “We will continue active communication with partners from the Upper Valley Regional Public Health Team and the Vermont Department of Health to ensure the health and safety of our team as they participate in this vital outreach.”

To request support or for more information, please contact Laura Perez at

SNSC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies upon the generous support of individuals, philanthropic organizations, and businesses to operate their programs.


In light of the separation of children from their parents or other caregivers and the living conditions of the detained children and threats of further deportation and family separation, a statement from SNSC’s spoke people, the Executive Director and Board President follows.

For 40 years the Special Needs Support Center (SNSC) has proudly stood up for the rights of vulnerable children. Our core belief is that ALL children deserve to be happy, healthy, and safe.   

With this core belief in our hearts and minds, we denounce the practice of separating immigrant children from their families and urge our government to cease this activity which is unconscionable and causes irreparable harm to young lives.

This is not a political statement on immigration policy.  This is an appeal to elevate the inalienable right of all children to be safe.

We invite you- regardless of your political leanings- to join us in speaking out against family separation at our borders and to call for humane treatment of immigrant children currently being held in detention centers.

A special thank you to Kent Johnson, CEO Highlights for Children, for inspiring our message.

Laura Perez                                                            Jo-Anne Unruh
Executive Director                                                   Board President

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                          Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Lebanon Police Department and the Special Needs Support Center (SNSC) announce the launch of a new Special Needs Registry, a program to help emergency responders identify and respond to vulnerable residents with special needs.

This is a voluntary program in which special needs community members of any age, or their family members, submit information such as triggers, special accommodations, emergency contacts and a photograph. The information is entered into a database in which Lebanon Police Officers and Dispatch Team have access.  The registry is an expansion of an existing database which identifies community members who have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“SNSC is proud to be assisting with the Special Needs Registry,” said Laura Perez, SNSC Executive Director. “In addition to the challenges facing any parent, parents with children with disabilities have additional concerns such as impaired communication, wandering, tendency to avoid eye contact, or other behaviors that can appear suspicious without prior knowledge. Our vision for this project is to support positive relationship development and improved interactions between emergency responders and community members with disabilities.”

“This project helps us achieve our mission to protect life and to assist the public-at-large in a manner consistent with the rights and dignity of all persons,” said Police Chief Richard Mello. “The Special Needs Registry will help usrapidly and safely respond in the event that a citizen with special needs requires assistance.”

To register for the Lebanon Special Needs Registry:

  • Complete the simple form at this link;
  • Call the Lebanon Police Department at 603-448-1212 and request an officer be dispatched to your residence to assist you in completing the form; or
  • Call the Special Needs Support Center at 603-448-6311 and a team member will help you complete the form over the phone or in the office.




Lebanon, NH….. This July, Opera North takes its first steps in its partnership with the National Park Service to develop a new national park for the arts on the grounds of the historic Blow Me Down Farm in Cornish, NH. Blow Me Down Farm, located on the banks of the Connecticut River, is part of the original Cornish Colony and features breathtaking views of Mt. Ascutney and the river.

Their first production – Singers and Swingers – features the Opera North orchestra and singers, along with professional circus artists who have performed with the likes of Cirque du Soleil and the Big Apple Circus. This wonderful mash-up of opera and circus will take place under a big top tent and is the perfect summer afternoon or evening outing. Feel free to bring a blankets and a picnic to enjoy before the performance.

Key to their vision for Blow Me Down Farm is a park for the arts that is welcome and accessible to all. In collaboration with the Special Needs Support Center, Opera North is proud to host a Sensory Sensitive and Accessible Arts experience on Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 2pm.

Come check out their sensory-friendly accommodations!

  • Front row seats available for children and adults with disabilities, and their families. (Seating is limited, so contact SNSC to reserve your seats).
  • SNSC staff and volunteers will be on hand to share information and raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders. So, feel free to stim, dance, sing, and move around as needed. Fun!
  • Need a break? Stop by SNSC’s Mobile Sensory Station with light and sound therapy and other sensory equipment.

Additionally, Blow Me Down Farm will have designed accessible parking spaces, a drop-off zone near the entryway, and accessible restrooms.

The Special Needs Support Center helps children and adults with special needs, and their families, meet their unique challenges through advocacy and program support. Children and families served by SNSC are more productive, have greater independence, and are empowered to contribute to their communities.

For more information on SNSC programs, go to


donation preview

The Special Needs Support Center (SNSC) has received a $79,490 grant from the Canaday Family Charitable Trust.  The grant is to be dispersed over three years and will help SNSC further their mission of helping children and adults with special needs, and their families, meet their unique challenges through advocacy and program support.

“Our Parent Educational Support and Advocacy Program brings power and voice to all parents, especially the more than 80% of parents we serve who live below the poverty line,” said Executive Director Laura Perez. “This generous funding from the Canaday Family will help us support students, parents, and school teams in formulating plans to help all children, regardless of their special needs, access their education.”

SNSC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies upon the generous support of individuals, businesses, and philanthropic organizations like the Canaday Family Charitable Trust to operate their programs.

“The foundation seeks to fund innovative programs with clear, measurable goals for creating unique and significant improvements in the lives of children,” said Christine O’Donnell, the foundation’s contact.  “SNSC represents the type of work the Canaday Charitable Trust funds and we are very pleased to support their efforts.”

For more information, please contact SNSC at 603-448-6311 or on the web at