Children and Youth Action Network

About CEC’s Children and Youth Action Network (CAN)

What is CAN?

CEC’s Children and Youth Action Network (CAN) is an organized group of volunteers who are dedicated to helping advance policy affecting students with disabilities and gifts and talents. CAN seeks to (1) effect the necessary governmental changes at the local, state, and federal levels that will make possible the implementation of CEC policies relating to the education of exceptional children; and (2) further vitalize CEC units by providing meaningful vehicles for membership and CEC public visibility. 

Who can be a CAN Coordinator?

Children and Youth Action Network (CAN) Coordinators are CEC members selected by their respective units (either state/provincial or division). CAN Coordinators must be committed to advancing CEC’s policies through effective grassroots advocacy. Some of the factors to be considered in appointing a CAN Coordinator include:

  • A commitment to the policies of CEC.
  • A willingness to devote the necessary time (approximately 10-15 hours per month) to carry out all responsibilities related to this position.
  • A freedom to speak for and represent CEC to policy makers and the public.
  • An access to e-mail, telephone, FAX machine, mail, duplication, and other communication devices.
  • A willingness to serve a minimum of two years in this capacity.

    In addition, all units are encouraged to have an "alternate CAN contact" to ensure there is no disruption in communication between CEC’s Policy and Advocacy Services Unit and the state/province/division.

    How long is a typical term of a CAN Coordinator?

    It is recommended that CAN Coordinators serve at least two years; however, coordinators are encouraged to commit themselves for longer periods if at all possible.

    If there is a change of CAN Coordinators, the unit president must notify, preferably prior to the new CAN Coordinator’s effective date. Please inlcude the name and contact information of the new CAN Coordinator and the name of the CAN Coordinator being replaced.

    What are the responsibilities of a CAN Coordinator?

    As a leading advocate for students with disabilities and gifts and talents, a CAN Coordinator plays an integral role in advancing policy in federal agencies and federal/state governments.

    CAN Coordinators represent CEC members from their state, unit, or division and are responsible for effectively communicating CEC’s policy initiatives and building a strong grassroots network.

    CAN Coordinator responsibilities include:

    • Regular communication with members in the network.
    • Establish relationships with elected officials and government officials.
    • Develop an effective grassroots advocacy network.
    • Develop regional coordinators.
    • Provide state/province information to CEC's Public Policy Unit.
    • Serve only one Unit.
    • Provide Unit's public policy priorities to CEC's Public Policy Unit.
    • Conduct training for Units.

    CEC relies on CAN coordinators to build and sustain a strong network to ensure that members are well informed of the policy issues concerning students with disabilities and gifts and talents. An effective CAN network is pivotal to making progress on Capitol Hill, in federal agencies, and in state governments.

    How can I become active with CAN if I am not able to become a CAN Coordinator?

    There are many ways to help support the goals of CAN without the significant commitment of becoming a CAN Coordinator. Below are some of the ways to help advance policy affecting students with disabilities and gifts and talents:

    1. Email your members of Congress directly from CEC’s Legislative Action Center – and tell your family, friends, and colleagues to do the same!
    2. Sign up for CEC’s weekly Policy Insider
    3. Sign up for Special Education Today for the latest news sent directly to your inbox every week.
    4. Continue to monitor CEC’s Web site for breaking news and information

    Whom should I contact for additional information?

    For additional information on the CAN Coordinator program, please contact:

    Policy & Advocacy Coordinator