RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Department of Education is launching several new tools for parents of children with disabilities.
“It’s called Critical Decision Points for Families of Children with Disabilities and it’s a grant project,” explained Tracy Lee with the Department of Education.
“The grant was provided to us for people with disabilities. The purpose of the project is to educate parents about what decisions they’ll be making for their children with disabilities but just as importantly, when they’ll be making those decisions.”
Families like the Tremblays will be helped. Their son, 10-year-old Joe, has some intellectual and physical disabilities.
“There’s been major decisions already and he’s only in third grade now," said his mother, Lia Tremblay. "We’ve already faced some really big decisions for him and those will only become more intense and more frequent as we approach adulthood.”
That’s normal for most parents of a child with disabilities.
But those earliest choices matter quite a bit.
“We really want parents to know that the decisions they’re making for their kids, even in kindergarten and first grade, can impact the rest of their lives," said Lee. "It can impact the kind of diploma you can earn for example, and the kind of diploma can impact whether you can go to a college or university, and even career paths.”
How can parents understand the implications of such big choices so far ahead of time?
The Department of Education hopes to help with a printed handout and web-based guide developed to help to answer questions.
“If a question occurs to you at 11 o’clock at night, you can quickly log on and get the answer to it,” said Tremblay.
And there are also free in-person training sessions and vouchers if you have to travel a certain distance.
“We want them to understand that these decisions that they’re making really really early can impact the rest of their child’s lives,” said Lee.
The training sessions are being offered in partnership with the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.
Additional information and links to register for any of the Critical Decision Points for Families of Children with Disabilities training is available on the VDOE website.
A limited number of hotel rooms are available for parents and caregivers who want to attend and who live more than 60 miles from the training locations.