NEWTON - The first meeting of Newton Parents: Advocates for Education will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Dennis Library on Main St. Although the group will focus on the needs of families with children with special education needs, it is open to all parents concerned about their child’s education. The N.J. Dept of Education has identified lack of support for families of children with special education needs as a problem area in the special education system, the organizers of the new group noted. The State Improvement Plan/State Improvement Grant has funded a partnership with SPAN, the Statewide Parents Advocacy Network, to provide assistance in forming parent support groups. The new group will focus on meeting three needs: Advocacy - The group will provide training for parents in advocating effectively for their child within the school system. As a group, parents can also target and address problem issues in the educational system itself. Education - It will sponsor workshops and provide contact information for existing local, state and national organizations. Literature and internet resources will also be available. Social support - It will provide parents with the opportunity to pool coping skills and practical resources. A parent network will also be offered, matching parents of children with similar needs for one-on-one support. The new group will be facilitated by Bonnie Sue Bastin of Newton. Bastin received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Grove City College in Pa. She continued her studies at Marywood School of Social Work, completing graduate course work in public policy and ethics. She is the former director of the Newton Teen Center, a drug/alcohol abuse prevention program funded by the Action Community Alliance. The mother of four children, Bastin also has personal experience advocating for the needs of her own children within the public school setting. The meeting is open to all parents in Newton and the Newton sending district. For information, call 973-940-2959.