According to data.nysed.gov, for the 2013-2014 school year there were 178,933 school-age students with disabilities and 16,723 preschool students with disabilities in New York City.
Appropriate education and early intervention can be key aspects for helping you and your child understand how to navigate life with special needs.
This section provides parents with resources to help their children with special needs receive the education that they deserve.
Image credit: screen shot from Kasey Calnan, graph created through Microsoft Excel
If you are trying to determine which school your child will attend based on their address, NYC.gov offers the School Search resource. It requires users to provide their street address, borough, and grade level of their child in order to find the nearest school.
If you are trying to determine your child's school district, you can use the NYC.gov Address Information resource. You must provide your building number, street name, and borough. Your school district should appear below within the "Detailed Address Information" results.
District 75 is comprised of special schools created specifically for students with moderate to severe disabilities. It offers educational, vocational, and behavior support for approximately 25,000 students. District 75 serves students ranging from Pre-K age through 21 years of age. Not only are District 75 programs offered at schools and hospitals, they can be included in home-schooling, as well. For further information about District 75 programs, click here.
Schools.nyc.gov also provides a list of District 75 schools separated by borough.
NEED HELP FINDING DISTRICT 75 ONLINE? WATCH THIS VIDEO!
Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) is an organization that fights to protect every child's right to education. They have a particular focus on children with low-income backgrounds who are struggling or facing discrimination in school. AFC uses lawyers and education specialists to provide free legal advice and advocacy services to families, such as representation at school-related hearings, and they also aim to change education policy so that NYC schools better serve all types of students. In addition, AFC teaches families how to stand up for their child's educational rights using techniques such as brochures, like this one about advocacy skills.
Identifying developmental delays and disabilities early in a child's life is important so that the child can receive early intervention services. The Early Intervention Program (EIP) provides evaluations and services to children with special needs from birth to age three. It is funded by NY State and county governments, which means that Early Intervention Services are provided at no cost to the parents of children with special needs. Health insurance is not required to participate, however, it may be used by the EIP for service reimbursement purposes.
In 2016, Advocates for Children of New York produced a Guide to Early Intervention which discusses Early Intervention services that are available and how to get Early Intervention services for your child
The organization All About Kids offers evaluations, eligibility information, and Early Intervention services.
After age three, children with special needs can receive services through a Preschool Program rather than Early Intervention Programs. The Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) evaluates your child and determines the necessary services. Preschool services authorized by the CPSE are also government funded. Services include Physical Therapy, Audiology, and Special Education Itinerant Teachers (SEIT). All About Kids also offers information and services about CPSE Preschool. Advocates for Children of New York also created a guide for Early Childhood Education Programs. Please note that the guide was created for the 2018-2019 school year and the application deadlines have passed, however the guide still has valuable information about the process and programs available.
An IEP or Individualized Education Program allows children with special needs to receive special education and related services specific to that child’s educational and developmental needs. The NYC Department of Education discusses the process and provides instructions and suggestions for all steps of the IEP process from determining if your child might require an IEP through understanding the content of the IEP. It is important for parents to understand the process of acquiring an IEP for their child and should be involved along the way. Understood.org also discusses the process of getting your child an IEP and rights you have if a school denies your request to evaluate your child.
For more information about IEPs and the process, visit the U.S. Department of Education.
Getting your child an IEP is an important step in ensuring they receive an appropriate education. But what happens if your child's teacher is not following the requirements laid out in their IEP? Take a look at this Understood.org article for some suggestions about how to handle the situation.
If you have tried resolving the issue and the school still does not provide your child with the appropriate services, you can follow the NYC Department of Education Complaint Procedures for filing a formal or informal complaint.
Many special education services are offered in schools, such as occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and mobility services. However, there are circumstances in which schools cannot provide appropriate services for children. In those special cases, the Department of Education (DOE) should issue a Related Services Authorization (RSA), which permits parents to take their child to a DOE-approved independent service provider to receive appropriate services. There are updated lists of service providers located towards the bottom of the NYC DOE Related Services webpage.
As an alternative or in addition to school services, parents can choose to take their child to different educational and therapeutic service providers.
Sunny Days Early Childhood Developmental Services, Inc. serves children with developmental needs from birth to age three. They offer a variety of services ranging from early intervention to occupational therapy. Sunny Days tailors their services to target individual needs of children based upon an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
The New York Center for Child Development is a non-profit that offers educational and therapeutic services for children from birth through age five. It also offers services for parents, professionals, and institutions that serve children with special needs. Services include early intervention, evaluations, and full or half-day preschool.
Achieve Beyond Pediatric Therapy and Autism Services of New York provides therapeutic services to children from birth to age 21. Their services include school consultations, parent trainings & workshops, and speech & language therapy.
This section serves to provide context and more detail about several key resources used in the making of this page
Address Information. (2018). NYC.gov. Retrieved from http://www1.nyc.gov/apps/311utils/addressinfo.htm
This feature on the NYC.gov website provides residents of New York City with information about their address. It provides information such as the police precinct, cross streets, trash pick-up days, and school district for any New York City address. The tool is easy to use and provides results quickly. Users are required to provide an address in order to acquire information. The Google Chrome web browser indicates that this page is not secure, therefore users should not provide any sensitive information, such as credit card numbers. However, the site does not request any sensitive information from users, it only requires a building number, street name, and borough.
Advocates for Children of New York. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.advocatesforchildren.org/
In addition to the legal services provided by Advocates for Children of New York, their website offers a host of helpful fact sheets, tip sheets, brochures, guidebooks, podcasts, and videos. The subjects include, but are not limited to: early intervention, enrolling students in high school, developmental milestones, special education acronyms, and advocating for English language learners. The materials are thorough, easy-to-read, and provide suggestions for being an advocate for your child's education. The website and additional materials are available in up to ten different languages, which supports a broad range of users.
A Guide to the Individualized Education Program. (2007). U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html
This guide was developed by the U.S. Department of Education with the Assistance of the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities. It describes the IEP process in ten steps, the members of the IEP team including teachers and parents, they types of related services that a child may receive with an IEP, and what to do if you disagree with your child's IEP. The explanations in the first half of the document are understandable; however, the second part of the document includes legal terminology and information about regulations. The document also provides contact information for regional programs and centers from which parents can acquire more information about special education in their region of the United States.
NYC Department of Education. (2018). NYC.gov. Retrieved from http://schools.nyc.gov/default.htm
Schools.nyc.gov is an up-to-date source for information about New York City public schools. This resource can be helpful for parents of children with special needs because it provides information about the services offered in schools throughout the city, District 75, the IEP process, locating schools, and resolving issues if parents feel that their child's right have been violated. The website is available in ten different languages and provides contact information for various special-education-related offices and departments. Unfortunately, there is no direct link to the special education resources from the home page.
NYC Public Schools Special Education School District Data Profile 2013-14. (n.d.). nysed.gov. Retrieved from https://data.nysed.gov/specialed/index.php?instid=7889678368&year=20132014
This resource provides the evaluation results of New York City schools efforts to implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act based upon the New York State Performance Plan. This evaluation covers 14 indicators which include graduation rate, drop-out rate, Least Restrictive Environments, timely evaluations, and post-school outcomes. The quantitative information is presented in visually appealing charts and graphs, with as few words as possible. Some areas and titles have additional information which appears when users scroll over the words, however, it is not an obvious feature. This is a helpful resource for users who are interested in special education statistics for New York City schools.
Understood. (2018). Understood.org. Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en
Understood.org is a helpful resource for parents of children with special needs because the organization's goal is to help parents understand and relate to their children. The website features education-related articles that discuss topics such as getting a child an IEP, rights that parents have if the school denies their request for an IEP, selecting or switching schools, and repeating grades. Understood.org also features articles which discuss life outside of school, including dating and jobs. The authors use easy-to-read, familiar language and the website provides links to related articles. The articles are quick to read and generally do not provide excessive amounts of information, which is helpful for parents who have already spent time reading detailed government documents or procedures.