Information & Resources for Parents of Children with Disabilities
Being a parent of a child with disabilities may be initially daunting or overwhelming. It is critically important parents be educated on all aspects of their child's diagnosis, evaluation and educational process to best support their child. The page will serve as a resource for parents and guardians of children with disabilities. All information has been gathered from special education resources including New York State Office of Special Education and a variety of other books, articles and professional reviews. The information is intended to better inform parents and be a source for pertinent links.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
An IEP is a written document for student's with disabilities that is developed, revised and reviewed on an annual basis according to the special education law. The IEP is developed by certain team members including: special education teachers, general education teachers, school administrators, school psychologist, related service providers, teaching assistants and anyone else related to the child's school experience. Below are the required components of a student's IEP:
- Student / Family Demographic Information;
- Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP's): These statements are written to convey how the student's disability effects involvement and progress in the general education curriculum;
- Annual Goals (Both academic and functional);
- Related Services and Supplementary Aids;
- Program Modifications or Supports;
- The extent to which the child will participate with non-disabled students (academic, non-academic and extracurricular activities);
- Individual accommodations;
- Transition planning (depending on age);
- Date for beginning of services; and
- Frequency, location and duration of services / modifications.
What is Section 504?
Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Section 504 reads, “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...” [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)]."
What does Section 504 Include?
An impairment under Section 504 can include any long-term illness or disability that significantly reduces a student's ability to access learning in the educational setting because of a given condition. Section 504 states that, "it should be emphasized that a physical or mental impairment does not constitute a disability for purposes of Section 504 unless its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities” (Appendix A to Part 104, #3).
Can My Child Be Referred? And Who can Refer?
The short answer is, yes, any child can be referred for evaluation. However, New York State Law states that “the school district must also have reason to believe that the child is in need of services under Section 504 due to a disability." Accordingly, parent demand alone does not guarantee evaluation. Essentially anyone can refer a student for evaluation but the school district must suspect services are needed before granting an evaluation.
What does placement or reevaluation look like under 504?
It's important to note that program changes and accommodations can take place under Section 504, but the school district must first inform the parent/guardian before their child is placed or evaluated. That said, students can be given a wide array of accommodations, in and out of the classroom, to fit their individual needs. A Section 504 student will always be in the regular classroom unless the disability prevents that placement. A child under Section 504 must be reevaluated every three years or before significant program changes.
New York State Special Education Resources
Early Childhood Direction Centers
The network of Early Childhood Direction Centers (ECDCs), administered by the New York State Education Department, is a resource for professionals and parents of children with disabilities, birth through five years of age. ECDCs provide information about programs and services available in the community and referral assistance in accessing these services. For information about the ECDC in your region, refer to VESID’s website http:/www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/ecdcor call (518) 486-7462.
Independent Living Centers
Independent Living Centers are private, community-based programs which provide a variety of services to people with disabilities. These nonresidential, nonmedical service centers provide education and awareness activities within their communities to break down barriers, allowing people with disabilities to participate fully in community life. Services provided by centers include: peer counseling; information and referral; advocacy; housing assistance; transportation; services referral (interpreters, readers, attendants); independent living skill counseling and training; architectural barrier consultation; equipment maintenance; repair and loan; and TTY relay. For information about the Independent Living Center in your region, refer to VESID’s website http:/www.acces.nysed.gov/vr/lsn/home.htmlor call (518) 474-2925.
Special Education Training and Resource Centers (SETRC)
The SETRC network, administered by VESID, provides local information, training and resources related to the education of students with disabilities. SETRC training specialists provide parents, school district staff and administrators, agency representatives and other interested individuals with resources, consultation and training programs based on local needs and statewide goals. For information about the SETRC office in your region, refer to VESID’s website http:/www.acces.nysed.gov/vr/lsn/home.htmlor call (518) 486-7462.
Transition Coordination Sites
Regional Transition Coordination Sites (TCS) assist local communities in implementing transition planning and services. They coordinate existing resources within a geographic area to provide information, training and technical assistance to local school districts, families, students and community agencies. They also assist at the local and community levels to expand services to enhance the transition of students with disabilities from school to postsecondary educational opportunities, adult vocational rehabilitation services and employment. For information about the TCS in your region, refer to VESID’s website http:/www.acces.nysed.gov/vr/lsn/home.htmlor call (518) 474-7566.
VESID Vocational Rehabilitation Regional Offices
The VESID Vocational Rehabilitation Regional Offices provide services to individuals with disabilities to prepare them for employment. Services include: physical and/or psychological examinations; vocational evaluation; guidance and counseling; medical services (to improve ability to work); job and work adjustment training; meal allowances, books, tools and transportation for on-the-job support; other goods and services needed to obtain a job; job coaching; supported employment services; training in job seeking; job placement services and follow-up services. For information about the Vocational Rehabilitation Office in your region, refer to VESID’s web-site http://www.acces.nysed.gov/vr/or call 1-800-222-JOBS (1-800-222-5627).
Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped
Located within the Office of Children and Family Services, CBVH is responsible for the administration of programs and services to legally blind individuals to enhance independence and facilitate opportunities to participate in the community. CBVH provides a range of services for individuals who are legally blind through the independent living and vocational rehabilitation provisions of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, as well as through programs serving children and older individuals who are blind. For information about CBVH, call 1-866-871-3000 (TTY: 1-866-871-6000).
Commissioner for Quality Care
The Commission on Quality of Care’s Advocacy Services Bureau coordinates a statewide protection and advocacy program for people with disabilities and their families. The Bureau offers training programs to help parents understand special education laws and regulations. These programs are co-sponsored by local groups. For information about the Advocacy Services Bureau, call (518) 381-7098 (collect) or contact the website at email@example.com.
Coordinated Children Services Initiative
The Coordinated Children Services Initiative (CCSI) is a multi-agency initiative that assists localities in providing children with emotional and behavioral disabilities at risk of residential placement with services in their homes, schools and communities. The goal of CCSI is to reduce residential placements by developing a local infrastructure that brings together child serving systems to provide a comprehensive and integrated system of care that supports families in staying together. For more information contact VESID at (518) 473-9307.
Office of Advocate for Persons with Disabilities
The Office of Advocate for Persons with Disabilities (OAPwD) is a systems advocacy agency for people with disabilities. Its primary mission is to ensure that people with disabilities have every opportunity to be productive and participating citizens through: full access to emerging technology; access to up-to-date, comprehensive information on and referral to programs and services available to people with disabilities and their families; and implementation of progressive legislation protecting the equal rights of people with disabilities. For information about OAPwD, call (800) 522-4369 or (518) 473-6005, (voice, TTY and Spanish call (518) 473-4129(within NYS),(518) 474-5567 (outside NYS)) electronic BBS call (800) 943-2323 or refer to the OAPwD website at www.advoc4disabled.state.ny.us.
Office of Mental Health
The Office of Mental Health (OMH) is responsible for developing plans, programs and services for the care, treatment, rehabilitation, education and training of individuals with mental illness. The Office provides direct services at nineteen adult, six children’s and three forensic psychiatric centers and provides fund allocation and certification of non-State-operated mental health programs. For more information contact the Bureau of Children and Family Services at (518) 474-8394 or visit the OMH web site at http://www.omh.state.ny.us/.
Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
The Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) operates 13 Developmental Disabilities Services Offices (DDSOs) responsible for providing care, treatment, habilitation and rehabilitation services to individuals with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. In partnership with consumers, families, staff, private providers and local governments, the DDSO’s provide person-centered assistance to improve the quality of life of individuals and their families through the provision of housing, employment and family support services. For more information contact (518) 473-9689 or visit the OMRDD web site athttp://www.omr.state.ny.us/.
Office of Children and Family Services
The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) provides operational support and policy direction to local social services districts and youth bureaus across the State and is responsible for the operation of 48 statewide residential and day placement facilities for youth. Programs and services provided through OCFS include child and adult protective, child welfare, domestic violence, pregnancy prevention; family services, youth development and delinquency prevention; juvenile justice; and after care programs. For more information contact (518) 473-7793 or visit the OCFS website at http://www.dfa.state.ny.us/.
Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) administers a comprehensive program of prevention, intervention and treatment services for persons addicted to alcohol and other drugs. OASAS plans, develops and regulates the State’s system of alcoholism and substance abuse treatment agencies; operates 13 Alcoholism Treatment Centers; licenses and regulates local, community-based providers of inpatient, outpatient and residential services; and monitors programs to ensure quality of care and compliance with State and national standards. For more information contact (518) 473-3460 or visit the OASAS web site at http://www.oasas.state.ny.us/.