Frequently Asked Questions
What is the mission of Circle of Friends (CoF)? Visit our Mission Statement.
When was CoF founded? Visit Our History.
How many schools have implemented CoF? 245 CoF chapters have been launched across seven states, including Arkansas, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. More than 96,000 students with and without special needs have been positively impacted.
Is CoF a non-profit organization? Circle of Friends is a project of Community Partners (our fiscal sponsor), a registered 501(c)(3).
Tax ID # 95-4602067
I am a parent or student interested in starting a Circle of Friends (CoF) chapter, what do I do? Please contact Robyn Stack Reagan, CoF Program Director, at Robyn@CircleoFriends.org, and she will provide you with program information to share with your local school administrators. CoF partners with schools at the district level.
Can elementary and middle schools start a chapter? Yes, CoF has many successful elementary and middle school chapters. CoF is for all grades levels—elementary through high school and colleges too—and helps to smooth the often difficult transition from one school to the next.
I am a general education student interested in joining a chapter. What does CoF involve? If there is an active chapter at your school, participating in CoF involves meeting a student with special needs once a week at lunch for the entire school year. Attendance at special monthly group activities, on or off campus, is encouraged but not required.
My child with special needs is no longer in high school. Can he/she still participate? If the school that your child graduated from has an active chapter, they should be able to continue participating in monthly activities. This decision will be made by the local chapter advisor. Additionally, if you live near the Westside of Los Angeles, you may wish to have your son/daughter participate in our Circle Summer program; contact Robyn@CircleoFriends.org for more info.
What does Circle of Friends (CoF) provide? CoF partners with schools at the district level to offer three years of consultation in developing an inclusion program that provides a systematic approach to improving social and language skills for students with special needs. Schools receive a comprehensive manual, three workshops in Year 1 and Year 2 and one workshop in Year 3, in addition to unlimited phone and email support. An experienced Program Facilitator, either a trained speech-language pathologist or special education teacher, travels to you to conduct the workshops and is available for consult in-between.
How long does it take to implement CoF? School staff typically attend workshops in the spring or early fall. Within two months of the first workshop, your chapter will start CoF at lunchtime. At the end of three years, you will have a strong, self-sustained inclusion program that encompasses lunch groupings, monthly activities within the community, Ability Awareness presentations and more to sensitize your campus and community to differences.
What grade level is CoF for? CoF is for elementary, middle and high schools, as well as college campuses.
What are the components of the program? Visit our Program Description page.
Is CoF a program or a school club? CoF is a social and language skills program of inclusion; however, schools often run CoF as a club so that it has a “niche” on campus.
Who runs CoF on a daily basis? CoF is run by elected school staff, preferably a team consisting of a speech-language pathologist, a special education teacher and a school administrator.
Are there statistics/data to support the success of CoF? There is quantifiable evidence that participants in CoF with special needs have shown positive improvement in social and language skills. Evidence also indicates that general education students improve communication and leadership skills and that campus bullying decreases. For more detailed information, contact the CoF office at Robyn@CircleoFriends.org.
What is the difference between CoF and other anti-bullying programs? CoF is distinct from other anti-bullying programs in several ways. First, the CoF program is adaptable to all grade levels, K-12. Second, Circle of Friends is notable in that it enables students with disabilities to form multiple friendships that can potentially bridge elementary, middle and high school years. Non-disabled peers are trained to model and shape the social and language skills of their new friends in a natural environment. Third, Circle of Friends encourages large group activities, on or off campus, providing extra socialization and exposure to varied experiences. The final piece of the Circle of Friends program is the Ability Awareness presentation, spreading the message of Circle of Friends to peers who are not in the program, thereby extending and maximizing the CoF message. CoF provides school staff with three years of consultation and an option for extended support.
Is there a cost to implement CoF? Yes, for information on cost and funding resources, contact Robyn Stack Reagan, CoF Program Director, at Robyn@CircleoFriends.org.
What happens at the end of three years of consultation? After three years, when CoF is running strong on your campus, there is an option for the district to enter into a Chapter Continuation Agreement with CoF. This agreement, renewed annually, allows for continued phone and email support, use of the CoF logo, and membership in a movement that is sweeping the country! Schools will also continue to receive and contribute to a nationally-distributed quarterly newsletter, highlighting innovative projects implemented by other schools along with updates from the national organization. Under the Chapter Continuation Agreement, district schools remain official CoF chapters, branding your district as an inclusive site working to decrease bullying and meet the needs of a beautifully diverse student body.
My district/school is ready to begin a CoF chapter, now what? Great news! Please contact Robyn Stack Reagan at Robyn@CircleoFriends.org to get started.