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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 5, Lesson 4

Family Networks

Families of school age children with disabilities can connect with each other for information and support at school functions and organizations such as school open houses, sports events and the Parent Teacher Association. They may have been in the early intervention/special education systems for a long time and know where and who to go to for information. Families in the early intervention system have fewer opportunities for these interactions with other families, and because they are just beginning the journey with their child, may not know what resources available. There are numerous family information and networking resources in Florida and the nation that can connect families within the Early Steps system. The ITDS should be aware of them and be able to provide them as resources for families with whom they work. The following is a brief list of some that address family issues in general while others may focus on specific disabilities.

State Organizations

Florida Institute for Family Involvement (FIFI) publishes "A Resource Guide for Florida Families of Children with Special Needs". It is an excellent compilation of resources for families and includes brief descriptions of the organizations, phone numbers and web sites. FIFI is a family organized and directed organization that facilitates creative solutions, strong partnerships, and community collaboration on behalf of children with special needs and their families.

Family Network on Disabilities, Inc. (FND) was discussed in Lesson 3 but is also included here as a family network organization. You may want to refer back to Lesson 3 for a review of the scope of their work.

Parent to Parent of Miami is a Community Parent Resource Center and is part of the same national network as the PTICs which you learned about in Lesson 3. Parent to Parent of Miami serves the two most southern counties in Florida and provides information, educational training, support and emergency assistance, to families with adults or children with special needs. Services are provided in English, Spanish, or Creole.

Association for Retarded Citizens of Florida (ARC) This state non-profit organization was organized by parents to address the needs of all people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities. They provide strong leadership in training families of children with disabilities and adults with disabilities to be self advocates. Their mission includes opportunities for choice in how individuals with disabilities learn, live, work and access leisure activities. ARC is made up of local chapters throughout Florida.

National Organizations

Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) Center, is Minnesota's PTIC, but it is also the national PTIC. PACER sponsors several national projects supporting families who have children with disabilities, provides information and web links, training and technical assistance and family advocacy.

If you are not already familiar with these organizations, take some time now to look at what they have to offer by accessing the web sites.


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