Parent and Family Services
PARENT HELP DESK
Parents, do you have questions and want someone "neutral" to ask? Call our Help Desk! We are glad to help with any concerns you may have. Dial (850) 469-5423, or 1-888-445-9662, and press "4" when prompted. This line does have voicemail, so if it is not answered, please be prepared to leave your name and number, and a call will be returned to you.
- A Parent's Guide to the Facilitated Individual Educational Plan Process
- ESE for Military Families
- Resource Guides
What is the Facilitated IEP?
This exciting new video (available with English and Spanish subtitles) introduces the facilitated IEP process to parents in order to encourage IEP team resolution. Watch the video to learn more about this process and how you and your child's IEP team can work together, in the best interest of your child, to resolve concerns or disagreements and move forward.
Facilitated IEP Meeting: An Emerging Practice: https://www.sde.idaho.gov/sped/dispute/files/facilitation/Facilitated-IEP-Meetings.pdf
The guides provided below are provided for parents, family and community members, and education professionals to assist in providing connections to agencies and organizations that provide services to person with developmental disabilities. Click the picture(s) below to access the guides.
Regarding the Resource Guide to Special Services: No endorsement of any program or service is to be implied; the guide is provided for informational purposes only.
The most requested publications of The Florida Department of Education are also linked below. Additional publications of The Florida Department of Education can be explored and accessed on the BEESS Publications and Presentations link found in the Navigation bar.
To connect to the US DOE Parent and Family Digital Guide, please visit https://tech.ed.gov/publications/digital-learning-guide/parent-family/?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=
Escambia County Schools: https://ecsd-fl.schoolloop.com/pf4/cms2/view_page?d=x&group_id=1320734125030&vdid=i31b1rpqtxt43f
Okaloosa County Schools: https://www2.okaloosaschools.com/page/gifted-students
Santa Rosa County Schools: https://santarosacountyesedepartment.weebly.com/gifted-education.html
In Florida, children who have special learning needs are called exceptional students. Exceptional students include children who are gifted and children who have disabilities. Children who are considered gifted are those children with superior intellectual development and who are capable of high performance. The purpose of exceptional student education (ESE) is to help each child with an exceptionality to progress in public school and prepare for life after school. ESE services include specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of the exceptional student. There is no charge for these special services.
For more information, please visit: ESEGifted17English.pdf
Is my Child Twice-Exceptional?
Sometimes gifted students can also have significant learning challenges, and may be considered "twice-exceptional," meaning they are gifted and have a disability.
State of Florida resources listed at fdlrsemeraldcoast.org are hyperlinked. As other resources listed may prove valuable, please copy and paste the links in your browser to access that information at your discretion.
Civic Learning National Constitution Center: The National Constitution Center team is supporting remote learning with free lectures and civil dialogue sessions on the Constitution that students across America can access online. Access this resource at https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/classroom-exchanges/online-civic-learning-opportunities?utm_source=web&utm_medium=homepage&utm_campaign=exchanges
Embry Riddle: Embry-Riddle, Aeronautical University is offering free online course offerings on topics ranging from aeronautics and meteorology, to computer applications, history and more. No-cost options are available for the general public as well as Embry-Riddle employees. Access this resource at https://worldwide.erau.edu/colleges/catalog
Gifted and Talented Enrichment: Includes listings by grade groupings for critical thinking, creativity, leadership, visual arts, drama, dance, music, language arts, math, science, and social studies. Access this resource at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UbaobL2ymO4_MW4N0eVvdBEfMPLyGaH7KipH27Onmg0/preview?fbclid=IwAR37phqRPemQEq-tDQ3SUYyPvYBSoYkH_TAxnGLpZwN3AyLJdR95cgl69O4+
GRE information: ETS has announced that the GRE has cancelled its April 4 national test date across the U.S. in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. All rescheduling fees are temporarily being waived until further notice. ETS is offering at home GRE testing beginning on March 27. Access this resource at https://www.ets.org/gre/important_update/china_institutions
Ivy League College Courses Online: Brown, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale, Columbia universities, and the University of Pennsylvania are offering over 400 online courses ranging in categories from Computer Science, Humanities, Business to Engineering, Math and many more. Access this resource at https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/ivy-league-free-online-courses-a0d7ae675869/
Khan Academy: Khan Academy is a nonprofit with a mission of providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere to encourage continued education. Khan Academy is largely the #1 free resource during this time for students, teachers, districts and parents. Access this resource at https://www.khanacademy.org/
Walt Disney partners with Khan Academy to create "Imagineering in a Box" Access this resource at https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/hass-storytelling/imagineering-in-a-box?CMP=ILC-DPFY19Q4wo0808190814190031F
Websites of interest to parents:
- American Foundation for the Blind - The mission of the American Foundation for the Blind is to create a world of no limits for people who are blind or visually impaired. We mobilize leaders, advance understanding, and champion impactful policies and practices using research and data. Access this resource at https://www.afb.org/
- Bright Expectations - A website dedicated to helping our residents with unique abilities find the support, resources, and inspiration they and their families need to break barriers, defy lowered expectations, and achieve the brightest futures they can imagine. Access this resource at http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/people-with-disabilities/bright-expectations/index.html
- Discovery Education - Free Resources on a variety of topics, Access this resource at http://www.discoveryeducation.com/parents/?campaign=flyout_parents
- Division of Vocational Rehabilitation--Florida (VR) - VR is a federal-state program that helps people who have physical or mental disabilities get or keep a job. Access this resource at http://www.rehabworks.org/
- ESE Eligibility - The Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services supports school districts and others in their efforts to provide exceptional student education programs for students ages 3 – 21 who have disabilities and students who are gifted. Each school district is responsible for providing services to students who are eligible for exceptional student education (ESE) programs.
- Exceptional Education - The Bureau of Exceptional Education administers programs for students with disabilities.
- Florida Center for Reading Research - Resources for parents, families, and caregivers to support children's reading. Access this resource at https://fcrr.org/families
- Florida Developmental Disabilities Council - Agency committed to advocating and promoting programs, practices, and innovative initiatives that enhance the independence, productivity, inclusion, and self-determination of individuals with developmental disabilities. Access this resource at https://www.fddc.org/
- Learning Disabilities Association of America - Support and resources for parents of children with learning disabilities. Access this resource at https://ldaamerica.org/parents/
- Transition to Independence Project (TIP) - The TIP system was developed to engage youth and young adults in their own futures planning process, provide them with developmentally-appropriate services and supports, and involve them and their families and other informal key players in a process that prepares and facilitates them in their movement toward greater self-sufficiency and successful achievement of their goals related to each of the transition domains. Access this resource at https://www.starstrainingacademy.com/
- US Department of Education - Information for parents of children with special needs. Access this resource at https://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/edpicks.jhtml
- Family Network on Disabilities - Variety of information for parents. Access this resource at http://fndusa.org/
Websites of interest to parents and students:
- Cool Math 4 Kids. Access this resource at https://www.coolmath4kids.com/
- Fun, Easy English. Access this resource at http://funeasyenglish.com/
- Interactive Lesson Activities that Span all Grade Levels and Subjects. Access this resource at https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/student-activities/
- IXL Reading and Math Activities/Lessons. Access this resource at https://www.ixl.com/promo?partner=bing&adGroup=kids+math+websites&campaign=1690&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Search%20-%20General%
- Learning Chocolate - Free vocabulary games. Access this resource at http://www.learningchocolate.com/
- List of Learning Sites for Kids. Access this resource at http://bestkidswebsites.com/category/math/
- MES Games for ESL Students. Access this resource at http://www.marks-english-school.com/games.html
- Math Cats. Access this resource at http://mathcats.com/
- Math Multiplication Games. Access this resource at http://www.multiplication.com/games/all-games
- Reading Websites for Elementary Students. Access this resource at http://www.rakisradresources.com/2013/07/top-10-reading-students-for-elementary.html
- Financial Resources
- Florida's Read at Home Plan Resources
- Family Cafe
- Special Ed Connection
- Transition: College, University, and Post-Secondary Options for Students with Disabilities
- Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services
Florida resources listed below are hot-linked. As other resources listed may prove valuable, please copy and paste the links in your browser to access that information at your discretion.
Scholarships specific to students with disabilities:
Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities: (formerly the Gardiner Scholarship): Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, the Gardiner Scholarship Program has been rolled into the Family Empowerment Scholarship and will be referred to as the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA). As was done with the Gardiner Scholarship Program, students who are found eligible are able to use their funds as an education savings account. This means funding can be used beyond just tuition and fees at a private school. Families are required to apply and renew through the scholarship funding organizations. The scholarship funding organization is responsible for determining eligibility, awarding and distributing funding to eligible students and approving eligible expenditures.
As of July 1, 2022, the McKay Scholarship will also be rolled into the Family Empowerment Scholarship program under the Unique Abilities category. Florida's school choice programs allow parents to choose the best educational setting—public or private—for their child. The McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities provided nearly 30,000 Florida students with special needs the opportunity to attend a participating private school during the 2020-21 school year. The McKay Scholarship Program also offers parents public school choice. A parent of an eligible special needs student may choose to transfer the student to another public school.
Florida Tax Credit Scholarship: Florida created the income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship in 2001 to give students one learning option that is not available to them because of their financial circumstances. It allows them to consider whether a private school might be a better fit academically. Access this information at https://www.stepupforstudents.org/research-and-reports/florida-tax-credit-scholarship/basic-program-facts-ftc/
Hope Scholarship: Florida created the Hope Scholarship in 2018 to give bullied students a fresh start. This first-of-its-kind school choice program provides scholarships to students suffering from bullying at their prior public school. K-12 students who have reported an incident of harassment, hazing, bullying, robbery, sexual assault and more, may be eligible for a scholarship to attend a private school or a public school in a different school district. Access this information at https://www.stepupforstudents.org/research-and-reports/hope-scholarship/basic-program-facts-hope/
Reading Scholarship: In order to be eligible for a Reading Scholarship Account your child must be currently enrolled in a Florida public school in third, fourth or fifth grade for the 2021-22 school year, and scored a performance level of 1 or 2 on the English Language Arts (ELA) test in the 2020-21 school year. Students who are classified as English Language Learners (ELL), and who are enrolled in a program or receiving services that are specifically designed to meet the instructional needs of ELL students, will receive priority. Access this information at https://www.stepupforstudents.org/for-parents/reading-scholarship/how-the-scholarship-works/
Transportation Scholarship: For the 2021-22 school year, a family of four could have an income of nearly $100,000 annually to be eligible for a $750 scholarship (per student) to assist with transportation costs to a public school that is different than the one they are assigned to attend. Access this information at https://www.stepupforstudents.org/scholarships/transportation-scholarships/
Parents: Did you know?
A read-at-home plan is required to be provided to parents of any K-3 student who has been identified with a substantial deficiency in reading. The Florida Department of Education has compiled resources that each school district must include in a read-at-home plan provided to the parent of a student who is identified as having a substantial reading deficiency. A read-at-home plan includes information and resources connected to the essential components of reading: oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. These resources are available in an electronic format that is easily accessible online, and a hardcopy of such resources must be provided by the school upon parent request.
Resources are included in the areas of:
- Parent Guides for English Language Arts Standards
- Supporting Reading at Home
- New Worlds Reading Initiative
- Overview of Assessment Types
- Statewide English Language Arts Assessments
- Supports for Parental Involvement (including Dispute Resolution Systems)
- Evaluating and Identifying a Student for Exceptional Student Education
- Characteristics of Specific Learning Disability, including:
- Developmental Aphasia
To access these resources, please navigate to this document: Read at home plan document.pdf
Florida hosts an annual conference, The Family Cafe, specific to families of students with disabilities. It is
an exciting, inclusive event, and held in the Orlando/Kissimmee area every June. Why not consider participating next year? Information on the Family Cafe can be found on the Family Cafe website, please click here.
Do you have a child with a disability of school age in Florida?
Learn where to find resources to help your child benefit from special education services at the Special Ed Connection®
These resources include:
- A better understanding of special education topics.
- A way to be more actively involved in meeting the special education needs of your student.
- Smart Starts, a quick way to gain a better understanding of almost 450 special education topics, federal regulations, case law, assistive technology, and how the special education law applies to your family member.
- Special Ed Online Dictionary, which contains straightforward, easily understood definitions of more than 1,400 widely used terms.
- News and Updates, which can help you stay current on the latest news and developments in the special education community.
- Special Ed Round-Ups, an easy way to quickly access the latest news on hundreds of special education issues from autism to bullying to post-secondary transition and more.
The Florida Department of Education is proud to provide access to the Special Ed Connection® at no cost to families of students with disabilities. Parents of students in Escambia, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa counties can request a subscription to Special Ed Connection at https://bit.ly/LRPRegister.
Parents of students served in other counties can find out how you can gain access to this valuable resource visit the web at https://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7674/urlt/LRP-Parent-Contacts.pdf
or call us at (850) 469-5423 or 1-888-445-9662.
LOCAL DISTRICT CONTACTS
Planning for life after high school is essential for students with disabilities. Florida supports post-secondary transition through working with districts and via the Project 10 discretionary project specifically focused on providing districts with post-secondary transition supports and training. The information contained on this page is an effort to support that work, and to help ensure parents using this site can effectively connect with post-secondary supports.
To link to the wealth of information on the Project 10 website, click the link above or the logo below:
For questions specific to opportunities and processes in your school district, please contact the post-secondary transition specialists noted below:
OKALOOSA: Mr. Carl Grimes, (850) 833-3100.
SANTA ROSA: Mrs. Amanda Failing, (850) 983-5150.
Listed below are resource websites to assist with planning.
Please note: A listing on this page does not constitute an endorsement of the program. Parents are encouraged to investigate the opportunities listed here to ensure a good match with student needs.
The University of West Florida's Argos Autism Program (AAP) is a Beyond Access service offered by Student Accessibility Resources (SAR) that provides academic, social, life skills, and career planning support to students with autism who attend the University of West Florida. The goal of AAP is to enhance the college experience by providing assistance with making connections on campus and navigating Argo life.
For additional information, please contact SAR at (850) 474-2387 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the SAR offices in Building 21, Room 110, or visit https://uwf.edu/academic-engagement-and-student-affairs/departments/student-accessibility-resources/argos-autism-program/about-the-program/
FloridaShines is our state’s Student Hub of Innovative Educational Services, offering an array of FREE online tools and resources designed to help students succeed in school, earn a college degree, and embark on a rewarding career. FloridaShines works with the state's K-12 school districts, public colleges, and universities to develop tools that benefit students, parents, and educators alike.
FloridaShines is provided by the Florida Virtual Campus [FLVC], located at https://www.flvc.org/. FLVC is funded by the state of Florida, making all of the tools and resources available at no cost to students.
The Accommodation Resource Center (ARC) at Northwest Florida State College is committed to providing equal access and opportunities for educational success to all students with disabilities as guided by the American Disabilities Act and other disability-related laws.
Northwest Florida State College does not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in any of our programs, services, or activities based on Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Visit https://www.nwfsc.edu/accommodations/ to connect to the Northwest Florida State College website for additional details and contact information.
The Student Resource Center for ADA Services is located on the Pensacola Campus in Building 6, Room 603, and can be reached by telephone at (850) 484-1637. A student with documented disabilities is enrolled in classes for inclusion in the educational experiences common to all students.
When necessary, course substitutions can be made pursuant to s.1007.264, F.S., and 6A-10.041, F.A.C. Accommodations for the GED and other standardized tests are available.
For more information, please contact Student Support Services at (850) 484-1637 or visit https://www.pensacolastate.edu/current-students/student-services/student-resource-center-for-ada-services/
To connect to the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities, visit the https://fcsua.org/Find_FPCTP.php website to search for postsecondary education programs available to students with intellectual disabilities in Florida. This site includes videos of programs, along with brief summaries about what each offers. Sites are marked according to whether or not they are an approved Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition program. Students who attend a Federally approved Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) may be eligible for Federal financial aid.