During your child’s preschool years you should be aware that you have the following tools and resources available to you. Remember you are your child’s best advocate and the more you know the better off you and your child will be.
- To help you learn how to advocate for your child the Family Network on Disabilities of Manatee/Sarasota, Inc., FND Manasota, is here to help. Our HOPE (Helping Out Parents in Education) Advocacy program helps parents, guardians, and caregivers of children with disabilities and special needs learn how to become their children’s best advocate.
- During your child’s preschool years is when an IEP (Individual Education Plan) should be established for your child. This is also the time you should familiarize yourself with Wrightslaw. Wrightslaw is where parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys go to get accurate, reliable information and resources about IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), special education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.
- If you know your child’s specific disorder now is a good time to begin searching for groups in your area specializing in this disorder. This could be a support group, medical or therapeutic professional, or educational specialist.
- Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System (FDLRS) provides diagnostic, instructional, and technology support services to district exceptional education programs and families of students with disabilities. FDLRS is a FREE resource available to children and their families through the public school system. All Pre-school children with a disability enter the public school system through FDLRS.
- Your child is NOT too young to be added to the waiting list for The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). If your child has a qualifying disability and is three years old or older you need to apply to APD for services. Eligible recipients are entitled to a wide range of specific therapeutic, medical, and support services. Currently a waitlist exists but families should still apply in preparation for their child’s future needs.
- Offering services from birth to 21 Children Medical Services (CMS) is another resource to be aware of during this stage of your child’s life. Children’s Medical Services focus is on helping your child grow up healthier and includes prevention and early intervention services, primary care, medical and therapeutic specialty care, and long term care.