10 Special Needs Organizations You Should Know About
In case you aren’t already aware, there’s a plethora of organizations offering programs and services to the special needs community of families. What we’ve done here is narrow the group down to 10 must-see organizations that offer said services to all individuals with disabilities and special needs.
If you haven’t checked out these fantastic organizations already, please read through the list below to see about which ones would best benefit you and your loved ones with special needs.
1. Easter Seals
What they offer: Resources for autism, seniors, children, adults, military and veterans, employment and training, medical rehabilitation, camping and recreation, brain health.
Children and adults with disabilities and special needs find highest-quality services designed to meet their individual needs when they come to Easter Seals. Teams of therapists, teachers and other health professionals help each person overcome obstacles to independence and reach his or her personal goals. Easter Seals also includes families as active members of any therapy program, and offers the support families need.
2. Special Olympics
What they offer: Real sports, building communities, youth activation, healthy lifestyle promotion, leadership, research.
Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment — on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential. Here’s a slideshow showing the full spectrum of our activities.
3. United Cerebral Palsy
What they offer: My Child Without Limits, My Life Without Limits, family support, employment guides, health and wellness tips, housing help, financial assistance, international resources.
UCP educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. UCP works to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network that has helped millions.
4. The Arc
What they offer: Information and referral services, individual advocacy to address education, employment, health care and other concerns, self-advocacy initiatives, residential support, family support, employment programs, leisure and recreational programs.
The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. We encompass all ages and more than 100 different diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and various other developmental disabilities.
5. Friendship Circle International
What they offer: Volunteer home visits, Torah circle for children, holiday programs, camp experiences, sports, sibling support, life skills.
The Friendship Circle is today’s fastest growing Jewish organization for children with special needs. With over 80 locations worldwide, the Friendship Circle has cultivated friendships between 5,000 special children and close to 11,000 teen volunteers. The Friendship Circle’s unique approach brings together teenage volunteers and children with special needs for hours of fun and friendship. These shared experiences empower the children, our special friends, while enriching the lives of everyone involved. The teen volunteers learn the priceless value of giving, the curative power of friendship, and the vital importance of integrating children with special needs into our communities. The parents and siblings receive much-needed respite and support from the Friendship Circle community, and all those who assist us. Each independent Friendship Circle is operated by its local Chabad Lubavitch Center, and entirely supported by each local community to benefit local children with special needs.
6. Goodwill Industries International
What they offer: Financial coaching, savings and loan support, tax preparation, education programs, community services, financial aid, transportation, after school programs, housing assistance, clothing assistance, medical rehabilitation.
Goodwill works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.
Goodwills meet the needs of all job seekers, including programs for youth, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, criminal backgrounds and other specialized needs. Last year, Goodwill helped more than 26.4 million people train for careers in industries such as banking, IT and healthcare, to name a few — and get the supporting services they needed to be successful — such as English language training, additional education, or access to transportation and child care.
7. Parents Helping Parents
What they offer: Support groups, family and community services, crisis support, early intervention, assistive technology services.
As a parent-directed, community-based organization, PHP’s mission was developed in response to the need in our community for information, training, and support services for families who have children with special needs and the professionals who serve them.
Established in 1976 as a nonprofit agency, Parents Helping Parents, meets the needs of one of our community’s most vulnerable populations – individuals with any special need and their families. This includes children of all ages and all backgrounds who have a need for special services due to any special need, including but not limited to illness, cancer, accidents, birth defects, neurological conditions, premature birth, learning or physical disabilities, mental health issues, and attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, to name a few.
8. Federation for Children with Special Needs
What they offer: special education center for parents, family support, health advocacy, family and community engagement, parent-professional leadership, summer camp, parent-to-parent support.
The Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) provides information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities. They are committed to listening to and learning from families, and encouraging full participation in community life by all people, especially those with disabilities. FCSN believes that individual differences in people are a natural part of life, and that disabilities provide children and adults with unique perspectives, insights and abilities which contribute to the overall well-being of society. The Federation values children as the hope for the evolving improvement of humankind, and places great value on the family as a caring protector of children’s vulnerability, as well as a catalyst for their healthy growth and development, and places a tremendous value on parents because of the contributions they make as the leaders of families toward supporting the health, education, and development of their children at home and in society. The Federation also promotes the active and informed participation of parents of children with disabilities in shaping, implementing, and evaluating public policy that affects them. The Federation believes in the power of parents helping parents and has infused a proven model of peer support throughout all its work. Most Federation staff members are parents or family members of children with disabilities and people with disabilities.
9. Special Needs Alliance
What they offer: Connection to attorneys in your area that practice disability and public benefits law, covering special needs trusts and wills, Medicare, SSI, estate and tax planning, personal injury, health care, financial planning, guardianships and conservatorships,
The Special Needs Alliance (SNA) is a national, not for profit organization of attorneys dedicated to the practice of disability and public benefits law. Individuals with disabilities, their families and their advisors rely on the SNA to connect them with nearby attorneys who focus their practices in the disability law arena.
The SNA is an invitation-only organization. SNA membership is based on a combination of relevant legal experience in the disability and elder law fields, direct family experience with disability, active participation with national, state and local disability advocacy organizations, and professional reputation. As a result, an SNA member will have an average of 18 years of relevant legal experience, with no member having practiced law for less than 5 years. The majority have been certified as Elder Law Attorneys (CELAs) by the National Elder Law Foundation, the certifying entity for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).
10. Family Voices
What they offer: Family-centered care, partnerships, quality, access, affordability and acceptability, health systems that work for families and children, informed families/strong communities and self-advocacy/empowerment.
Family Voices aims to achieve family-centered care for all children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities. Throughout our national grassroots network, we provide families resources and support to make informed decisions, advocate for improved public and private policies, build partnerships among families and professionals, and serve as a trusted resource on health care.