Back-to-School (1)

Five Tips for Getting Services for your Child

1. Be your child’s best advocate. There may be other people working on different pieces of the puzzle either for you or with you, but make sure that you are overseeing the entire process.
2. Don’t be afraid to get your child services if they need help. Far from creating stigma, you will be giving them the biggest gift of all, by allowing them to maximize their potential.
3. Take notes on every conversation with every agency and make copies of all correspondence so that you have a complete written record.
4. Always stay on top of your paperwork and be vigilant about deadlines.
5. If you have any doubts, hesitations, concerns or questions, call Project LEARN at 212-797- 9000 x326. We are here to help you so that your child can have the best educational experience.

The days are getting shorter, the air is turning crisper and that can only mean one thing: children all over are preparing to trade their pool bags for backpacks and their sneakers for shiny new shoes as they get ready to head back to school.

While every parent does their best to properly prepare their child for academic success as the new school year unfolds, for parents of children with special needs, that preparation extends well beyond making sure that they have a steady supply of freshly sharpened pencils and the right number of composition notebooks.

Mrs. Leah Steinberg, director of Agudah’s Project LEARN, chairman on the chancellor’s subcommittee on Special Education in Non-Public Schools and a member of the New York State Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council, said that there are a number of steps that parents can take to ensure that their child with special needs has a great school year.

Often is a parent who realizes that their child is struggling in school or has had limited academic success in the past and Mrs. Steinberg suggested that parents call the Project LEARN office to work together to pinpoint the source of the problem and identify possible solutions.

“We can help these children get the help that they need,” explained Mrs. Steinberg. “There are so many possibilities and once you find out what the problem is we can research what types of help are available.”

Mrs. Steinberg urged parents to act in their child’s best interests and noted that over the last decade special education has become widely accepted in the Jewish community.

“Focus on the educational placement that is good for your child’s success in life, not what others might think,” counseled Mrs. Steinberg.

Once a child begins to make their way into the special education system, parents have to remember that they are in the driver’s seat and that they need to take the primary role when it comes to their child’s education and overall development.

“Parents are the ones who need to be on top of things,” said Mrs. Steinberg. “Even if others are working on it, don’t assume that everything is taken care of. Periodic checking is critical.”

Mrs. Steinberg encourages parents to call her prior to their child’s evaluation so that they can hone in on what to say and exactly how to say it. Proper guidance can be indispensable when it comes to the evaluation process and this time of year is a particularly good time to get the ball rolling. While certain catch phrases can achieve a positive result, there are others that can inadvertently create problems.

Equally important is submitting all the proper paperwork and again, Mrs. Steinberg suggests that parents call her to verify that they have their documents in order, a small investment of time that can save hours of aggravation and heartache down the road. Parents need to become vigilant record keepers, getting the name of every person they speak to and keeping all correspondence they receive including the envelope it comes in, creating a paper trail that can often be a lifesaver.

What to do if your child’s placement is beyond your financial means?

“When looking for a school placement, don’t discount any placement, no matter how expensive,” advised Mrs. Steinberg. “Call us because we can often help you towards reimbursement. Also if you are having difficulty finding a school for a specific special education need, call us and we can try to help with that.”

Project LEARN has a comprehensive list of available P3 providers in New York City and plans for periodic workshops for special education parents, which will include detailed power point presentations and an opportunity to speak with Mrs. Steinberg, are currently underway.

Mrs. Steinberg noted that it is important to understand that while in other areas that involve government funding it is a relatively simple process to work from general guidelines, when it comes to special education the program has to be custom tailored to each child. She cautioned that the special education process is complicated and nuanced and because every child is an individual there are no one size fits all solutions.

“Generalizing is a very big mistake so please, please call us,” said Mrs. Steinberg. “If you have the slightest question at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us.”

To find out more about Project LEARN contact Mrs. Steinberg at 212-797- 9000 x326 or email lsteinberg@agudathisrael.org.

Five Tips for Getting Services for your Child

1. Be your child’s best advocate. There may be other people working on different pieces of the puzzle either for you or with you, but make sure that you are overseeing the entire process.
2. Don’t be afraid to get your child services if they need help. Far from creating stigma, you will be giving them the biggest gift of all, by allowing them to maximize their potential.
3. Take notes on every conversation with every agency and make copies of all correspondence so that you have a complete written record.
4. Always stay on top of your paperwork and be vigilant about deadlines.
5. If you have any doubts, hesitations, concerns or questions, call Project LEARN at 212-797- 9000 x326. We are here to help you so that your child can have the best educational experience.

(Author: Sandy Eller)