Georgia Resources for Children With Special Needs
l. Educational Services:
Educational services for children with disabilities are provided under IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Act). IDEA is a federal law which requires that a free and appropriate public education be available to children and youth with disabilities in mandated age ranges. This includes special education and related services.
a. Babies Can’t Wait of Georgia/Early Intervention. Part H of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) establishes a system of services from birth until the third birthday, for children with special needs and their families. The law guarantees all children, regardless of their disability, access to services that will enhance their development. Multidisciplinary assessments are provided at no charge to the family. Each family is assigned a Service Coordinator. Access to appropriate services is directed by the child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Funds are available to cover mandated services for eligible children when no other resources are available. At age three, eligible children are transitioned to other public and private programs to insure ongoing provision of needed services. Local offices are assigned by county or health district. Referrals are accepted from parents, hospital nurseries, pediatricians or other medical personnel, child development centers, etc.
b. Special Needs Preschool. Part B of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) provides for testing, placement in the least restrictive environment and an individualized education program (IEP) through the local public school system for children with disabilities ages 3 to 5 years. Contact is made through the "director of special needs preschool" or "preschool coordinator" of the local school system. Local phone numbers can be found in the blue pages under "education" or "school system" of the county in which the child lives. Note: It is frequently around age 2 1/2 to 3 years of age that concerns become pronounced and parents and primary health care providers are able to identify problems in development, speech or attention. Parents should not hesitate to contact the local schools to express concerns and request an assessment to determine eligibility for public school services.
c. Free and Appropriate Public Education. The public school system is required by federal law to provide appropriate educational services to children with special needs ages 3-21 years at no charge to families. The Georgia Department of Education has a web site at http://www.doe.k12.ga.us.
ll. Federal Programs::
a. SSI (Supplemental Security Income). A federal program that provides monthly payments and Medicaid coverage to individuals eighteen years of age and under, who meet eligibility criteria. Babies who are blind or born weighing under 1200 grams are eligible. Two aspects of eligibility are disability (some condition must limit a child’s ability to function like other children of the same age to a marked or severe degree) and income. Applications or information can be obtained from the local Social Security office (look in the blue pages of the phone book under US Government) or by calling 1-800-772-1213.
b. Deeming Waiver (Formerly known as the Katie Beckett Waiver). This program is for children who have a marked or severe disability where it has been established that it is less expensive for a child to receive treatment at home than in an institution. The program provides only Medicaid coverage when SSI has been denied due to income. It involves a lengthy, and sometimes intimidating, application process. The Deeming Waiver is generally in place for children with large medical or therapy needs/expenses who are not covered by private medical insurance, or whose medical insurance does not cover the prescribed services at the recommended intensity or frequency. For information or to apply, call the local office of Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) listed under County Government in the blue pages of the phone book, or call Georgia Medical Care Foundation (GMCF) at 1-800-982-0411.
III. Services for Sensory Impaired Children(Vision and Hearing):
a. BEGIN (Babies Early Growth Intervention Network). This program serves children birth to age five years in a nine county metro Atlanta area. They teach parents developmental activities to help their vision impaired child progress. They also offer family support. For information call 404-875-9011.
b. Georgia PINES (Georgia Parent Infant Network for Educational Services). This program provides information and assistance to families of vision impaired, hearing impaired and multi-handicapped sensory impaired children. Parent advisors make home visits to teach families how to help their child. Georgia PINES also provides audiological assessments and has a loaner hearing aid service. Call 404-296-7101 for information.
c. Atlanta Area School for the Deaf (AASD). This program provides a preschool program for hearing impaired children ages 3 to 6 years from the Metro Atlanta area. Language and communication development are emphasized. They also provides audiology diagnostic services. For more information call 404-296-7101. (AASD sponsors Georgia PINES).
d. Hospital based, community agency based and private audiologists are also available to provide services throughout the state of Georgia. Call your local hospital, the Parent to Parent Central directory, or look in the phone book yellow pages for "audiologists."
IV. Miscellaneous Services::
a. Parent to Parent of Georgia. This program provides trained volunteers who offer emotional support to parents of children with special needs. This is a statewide service and there is no fee involved. For more information call 770-451-5484 or 1-800-229-2038 outside Atlanta.
This program also maintains a central directory of early intervention services. This is a statewide information and referral source for agencies and individuals providing services to preschool children. To contact this service call 1-800-229-2038. For more information about Parent to Parent visit their web site at http://www.p2pga.org/.
b. Children’s Medical Services (CMS). This program provides medical treatment and case management for children with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Eligibility is determined on medical diagnosis and financial status of the family. The programs are located by health district. Contact your local health department for information on the CMS in your area.
c. Georgia Advocacy Office. This is a protection and advocacy system for people with developmental disabilities. This system can provide legal advice and guidance to parents regarding IDEA (the Individual and Disabilities Act). The Georgia Advocacy Office can be contacted at 404-885-1234 (Atlanta) or 1-800-282-4538 (outside Atlanta).
d. Lekotek of Georgia, Inc., is a toy lending library that provides toys and consultation on developing play skills for children with disabilities. The telephone number is 404-633-3430.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES OUTSIDE GEORGIA
I. Learning Disabilities Resources. For information regarding services for children with learning disabilities, the following may be helpful:
a. LD Fact Sheet: http://www.kidsource.com/NICHCY/learning_disabilities.html
b. National Center for Learning Disabilities: http://www.NCLD.ORG
c. LD Online: (note-there is a link to Georgia resources) http://www.ldonline.org/