Advocacy

Laws and regulations provide guidance and clarification about what is and is not acceptable when providing supports to individuals with disabilities. A number of Federal laws address accessibility and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. These laws cover access to a wide range of facilities and services, including housing, transportation, employment, telecommunications and voting. Knowing one's rights under the laws, or complying with their requirements, typically means getting the right information from the proper source.

Sometimes you can do it alone; sometimes you need guidance and expertise in order to get the job done right. Filing your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan is a process that may require professional assistance. When advocating for your child, do your research and get support from a professional or a friend.

It is important for parents to know their rights related to ensuring their child receives an appropriate education.  Please refer to PRISE (Parental Rights in Special Education) for additional information online.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was the initial legislation that gave individuals with special needs the right to get an education that would give them the best possible opportunity to learn.

The Official Website for the state of New Jersey is where parents/caregivers can go to find more state specific information on education.

The Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) is an independent 501(c)3 organization committed to empowering families as advocates and partners in improving education, health, and mental health outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth.  SPAN is a "first stop" for New Jersey families.  SPAN is New Jersey's  Parent Training and Information Center; Family to Family Health Information Center; Family Voices State Affiliate Organization; Parent to Parent USA affiliate; and a chapter of the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health.

Family Support Center of NJ (FSCNJ) offers various resources as a service to families seeking information and referral.

NJ Parent Link is a State of NJ page that offers a list of links for State, Federal and community resources.

Mom 2 Mom is a unique organization because by dialing the number, a mother of a child with special needs will call you to answer questions or talk.  This kind of direct support from someone that can really relate is extremely beneficial for parents of an individual with special needs that is struggling with a particular situation or decision.  They also provide counseling and mental health support for the parents.  This is sponsored through Rutgers University.

Family Voices aims to achieve family-centered care for all children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities. Through this national network, Family Voices provides families tools to make informed decisions, advocates for improved public and private policies, builds partnerships among professionals and families, and serves as a trusted resource on health care.

Parent to Parent is another organization that utilizes parents with children with special needs to assist each other in supportive ways.  As trained supporting parents, they offer emotional support and information, and act as a valuable resource to families. They offer assistance in learning the necessary skills to help parents face the challenges of raising their child.  

The ARC of New Jersey is the state's largest organization advocating for and serving citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.  There are different offices in each county (i.e. Camden, Gloucester, Burlington, etc.).