Families with special needs have a wide range of programs and services available for both family members with special needs and their caregivers. Here is a sampling of the various resources and tools available to you through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, or OSEP.
Your OSEP point of contact for special education programs
Connect directly with your state’s OSEP point of contact for questions related to special education services. This list can also be useful for families planning an upcoming move to a new state. Be sure to contact the customer service point of contact first, who will then connect you with the person who can answer your specific questions.
And, if you’re still not sure who you should contact, it’s never a bad idea to start by contacting your local EFMP Family Support staff or reach out to an EFMP Resources Options and Consultations, or EFMP ROC, consultant who can point you in the right direction.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The website for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, offers a lot of information to help students, parents, educators and service providers gain a better understanding of the act and how it applies to early intervention and school-age services in Parts C and B, respectively.
On the IDEA site, you can gather information and resources to help further guide you through special education programs, especially grant-funded free public education for children through age 21, as well as early intervention services for toddlers and infants through age 2.
Plus, you can search for specific toolkits or explore an IDEA-based resource library stored within an easily accessible online database at the IDEAs That Work website.
Blogs and webinars that speak to families like yours
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Blog has stories and insights from other families with special needs who have perhaps experienced struggles and successes similar to your family’s. The blog also features interviews by industry specialists and policymakers and is a must-read for any caregiver of individuals with special needs.
The Military Families Learning Network, or MFLN, also hosts regular live webinars discussing everything from finances to federal employment opportunities for the military community. For families with special needs, they also have resources specifically concerning early intervention strategies for military families. Head over to the MFLN website to watch prerecorded webinars and listen to podcasts made specifically to help families like yours.
A guide helping students with disabilities transition to employment and postsecondary education
In May 2017, OSEP updated A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities, which helps children with special needs and their families prepare themselves for life after high school. In this guide, you can find transition-specific planning and services, as well as potential education and employment options for your child.
These resources are just the start of what OSEP can offer you and your child with special needs, so you can make sure they start off with every advantage and succeed in school and in life. Remember, too, that if you need some help figuring out the IDEA resources, or need recommendations on which program is right for your child, your local EFMP Family Support staff and Military OneSource is happy to help, however we can.