School Improvement in Maryland

What do parents of students with disabilities need to know?

Dr. Carol Ann Heath-Baglin, Assistant State Superintendent“Active family involvement is essential to each and every student's success. Maryland has high academic standards for all students, including those with disabilities, and parents are an essential partner in the special education process. The Division of Special Education / Early Intervention Services at the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has developed numerous resources for parents and educators as they work together to support student achievement. We at MSDE look forward to a continuing collaborative relationship.”
—Dr. Carol Ann Heath-Baglin, Assistant State Superintendent

Resources that Support Parents

Early Childhood

Early Childhood Gateway: a resource for providers and families with young children with disabilities, birth through five

The Early Childhood Tutorial includes three modules that focus on the IFSP process as well as transitioning a child into Preschool. The tutorial is an online educational tool designed to provide a clear and up-to-date training resource for early intervention and special education administrators, providers, and families. *Evaluation and Assessment (Birth to 3) *Developing and Implementing IFSPs *Early Childhood Transition

Finding Help for Young Children with Disabilities (Birth-5) Parents, learn about developmental milestones.

Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL) publishes CELLpapers, web-based articles about CELL's conceptual framework, methods, approaches, and research findings on topics related early literacy learning.

The Division for Early Childhood Education of the Council for Exceptional Children is a professional organization that aims to improve outcomes for children ages Birth to 8 with disabilities and special needs.

The National Center for Early Development and Learning (NCEDL) is collaborative early childhood research project that focuses on enhancing the cognitive, social and emotional development of children from birth through age eight.

Sign up for the Natural Resources listserv and receive free weekly news and updates on topics related to early childhood education and early intervention.

Making Connections Links to current discussions, blogs and other communication tools that help families and people who work with children ages birth to 3 with special needs to stay connected.

Early Intervention Blog: Give Your Child a Head Start provides useful information and helpful links.


AutismConnectMD is an online resource that will assist families and providers in locating and securing resources for individuals with autism.

Autism These resources provide a wealth of information on autism and related disorders. There are links to research organizations, support groups, general information on where to find help and training materials including evidence-based practice options.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Bulletin Board is a place to share ideas, words of wisdom, advice, and much-needed support about raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder.

AutismLink maintains a variety of forums related to Autism and related disorders.

Federal Laws and Government Agencies

Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 is a site devoted to the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.

American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Home Page provides information about the federal act.

Federal Government Agencies - This section includes links to organizations and resources about federal laws and regulations regarding the education and provision of services for children with disabilities.

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) aims to improve results and outcomes for people with disabilities of all ages.

NECTAC provides easy-to-find information about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the United States and other nations.

Health and Medical Information

Health and Medical Information

American Academy of Pediatrics, Maryland Chapter provides a Pediatrician Referral Service that helps parents locate a licensed doctor. Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene produced a resource for Children and Youth in Medical Assistance/Medicaid and MCHP: Help for Special Health Care Needs.

Disability Specific Resources

Disability Specific These resources will help you find information about specific disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, deafness, and a variety of other disabilities.

Maryland School for the Deaf provides services for children birth-5 with a diagnosed hearing loss. They have a home visit program as well as center-based services.

Maryland School for the Blind provides a non-profit school and comprehensive services for youth from infancy to age 21 with visual impairments.


Abilities Network provides services to children, adults and families of differing abilities that focus on inclusive communities and educational opportunities through training, advocacy and education.

Culturally & Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Institute identifies, evaluates, and promotes effective and appropriate early intervention practices and preschool practices that are sensitive and respectful to children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for children from birth through age 8. This website provides information for teachers and administrators, links to its journal articles, information about conferences, and links to national organizations.

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) is a national organization that serves as a clearinghouse of information on disabilities, laws, education, and research. This site has specific information on IDEA, organizations, conferences, publications, and a set of FAQs. There are also links to state-specific information through State Resource Sheets, providing easy access to information about disabilities in all states. The site is accessible in English or Spanish.

Council for Exceptional Children

National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC) supports the implementation of the early childhood provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Their mission is to strengthen service systems to ensure that children with disabilities (birth through five) and their families receive and benefit from high quality, culturally appropriate, and family-centered supports and services.

Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) Center aims to enhance the quality of life for children with disabilities and their families based on a parent-helping-parent model. The website includes tip sheets, conference links, and resources for parents and professionals negotiating educational and employment systems.

The ARC is devoted to promoting and improving supports and services for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (MCIE) is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to the inclusion of students with disabilities in their neighborhood schools.

Maryland Disability Law Center (MDLC) provides services and programs to improve the lives of Marylanders with disabilities.

Pathfinder for Autism is a parent sponsored, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with autism and their families.

Parents' Place of Maryland is Maryland's Parent Center and is committed to improving the lives of children with disabilities and special health care needs.

The Center for Applied Special Technonolgy's Universal Design for Learners (UDL) is a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all.