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Special Education

Welcome to the Fairfield Public Schools Special Education Department. We look forward to partnering with our families to service the needs of our students with disabilities. Below is a list of special education staff contacts as well as information and resources for parents regarding special education processes and supports.

Special Education Webinar with Questions and Answers
Monday, August, 17th 2020 at 7:00PM

Meeting Link:

Special Education Law

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
In 1975, Public Law 94-142, The Education for all Handicapped Children Act was signed into law to insure that the educational rights of children with special needs were protected and that their education was provided in a way that met their needs in the same classrooms and schools in which their peers were educated to the maximum extent appropriate. In 1990 this act was amended and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT or IDEA. The IDEA has been amended and reauthorized several times since then to further strengthen the roles of parents, students, and educators in the educational process. The IDEA provides the rules or guidelines for special education services throughout the United States. The following are core components of the IDEA and provide the landmark principles on which the process is built:

  • Zero-reject - This principle prohibits public schools from excluding any student from education because he or she has a disability
  • Non-discriminatory evaluation - Fair testing of children is required, with tests that are administered and scored in an unbiased way
  • Free, appropriate public education (FAPE) - This is the core principle of IDEA and defines special education as services and instruction, provided at no cost to parents, that is individually designed to confer educational benefit. This instruction is based on a student's unique educational needs and implemented in the least restrictive environment.
  • Least restrictive environment (LRE) - To the greatest extent possible, students with disabilities are required to be educated with their peers without disabilities and in the schools they would attend if they were not disabled.
  • Procedural Due Process - Parents must be given the opportunity to consent or object to their student's education, referral, assessment, program or placement
  • Parent participation - Parents may participate as full partners and have full knowledge of their student's education program.

Procedural Safeguards - The IDEA provides parents and eligible students with certain rights in the special education process. These are called Procedural Safeguards

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
"504" refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its subsequent amendments. Section 504 is civil rights legislation that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of that disability. Section 504 states that, "no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." For children with disabilities the most important regulation concerns access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE under 504 is defined as an opportunity to be provided an education comparable to the education provided to non-handicapped students, requiring that reasonable accommodations be made. Section 504 provides parents and eligible students with certain rights in the process. These are called 504 Procedural Safeguards 

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
FERPA is Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."

  • Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student's education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.
  • Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.
  • Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR 99.31):
    • School officials with legitimate educational interest (need to know);
    • Other schools to which a student is transferring;
    • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes (state and federal audits);
    • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
    • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school (Office of Civil Rights, Office of Special Education Programs);
    • Accrediting organizations;
    • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
    • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies (DCF, DDS); and
    • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
    • To DCF on behalf of children in foster care where DCF acts as the statutory parent.
  • Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA is a federal law that was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life -- to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin - and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- the ADA is an "equal opportunity" law for people with disabilities.


To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.

Referral Process: Beginning the Partnership

When anyone has a suspicion that a child might have a disability it is their responsibility to make a prompt referral to Planning and Placement Team for review. This responsibility is known as Child Find. Child Find is a component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that requires state and local education agencies to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, aged birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services. Child Find is a continuous process of public awareness activities, screening and evaluation designed to locate, identify, and refer as early as possible all young children with disabilities and their families who are in need of an Early Intervention Program (Birth to 3) or Special Education services (3-21). Referrals can be made by any school staff member, parent, pediatrician or other interested party. What happens when a teacher has concerns?

If a teacher has concerns with a student's school performance, he or she may request assistance from the Scientifically Research-Based Intervention (SRBI) Team (also known as the Early Intervention Plan or EIP). The SRBI Team is a general education initiative designed to support students and teachers by providing professional development, strategies, suggestions and, when data warrants, planned interventions for students who are experiencing difficulty in school (academically, behaviorally, and/or socially). The SRBI team is a group of professional staff who works together with the teacher to review data, determine if intervention is necessary and plan, implement, and evaluate the effect of the intervention on student performance. Though this is not a special education process, it is typically implemented before a referral for special education (except in emergencies or where the student has an obvious disability requiring specially designed instruction or accommodations). Parents are made aware of this process before it is initiated. After alternative strategies have been used, the teacher and other involved school personnel monitor the student's school performance and determine whether the alternative strategies are successful and should continue. Very often, many problems are resolved at this level.

If, after a series of interventions, the student has not responded to the scientifically research-based intervention that has been implemented with fidelity, the SRBI Team will request a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting with the parents to discuss the need for further evaluation. This is called PPT 1. This is a formal process that follows state and federal guidelines, to which parents must be invited. This referral "starts the clock" with mandated timelines (see below). Parents should receive written notice of a referral for special education evaluation made by school personnel within 5 days after the referral is made.

Procedural Safeguards

Referral Process 

What happens when a parent has concerns?
The parent may also make a referral to a Planning and Placement Team by writing a letter to the teacher or principal at the school your student attends. You should date your request and keep a copy for your records. You may also verbally request a referral and the principal of your student's school building (or his/her designee) will assist you in the referral process. Upon the receipt of the referral, the Planning and Placement Team (PPT) (also known as the IEP Team) will meet to consider the request. This meeting is called PPT 1. The purpose of PPT 1 is to review the reasons for the referral, determine if a comprehensive evaluation is warranted, and if so, and plan the evaluation. The team will meet and discuss the reasons for the request and determine, based upon an analysis of data, a record review, and any and all information presented by any team member (including the parent), if an evaluation is warranted. If the team decides to refer for evaluation, the same process outlined above would then be followed. If the parents disagree with the team's decision regarding the evaluation, they may refuse consent or exercise their due process rights.

Procedural Safeguards 

Parents should receive written notice of a referral for special education evaluation made by school personnel within 5 days after the referral is made.

The Evaluation Process - Gathering the data to make good decisions

Evaluation is an essential beginning step in the special education process for a student with a suspected disability. Before a student can receive special education and related services for the first time, a full and individual initial evaluation of the student must be conducted to see if the student has a disability and is eligible for special education. Informed parental consent must be obtained before this evaluation may be conducted. Upon planning the evaluation the school team will ask for written parental consent by seeking a parent's signature on the Notice and Consent to Conduct an Initial Evaluation

The evaluation process is guided by requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

Purposes of Evaluation 

The initial evaluation of a student is required by IDEA before any special education and related services can be provided to that student. The purposes of conducting this evaluation are straightforward: 

  • To see if the student is a "student with a disability," as defined by IDEA
  • To gather information that will help determine the student's educational needs
  • To guide decision making about appropriate educational programming for the student.

The Scope of Evaluation 

A student's initial evaluation must be full and individual, focused on that student and only that student. This is a longstanding provision of IDEA. An evaluation of a student under IDEA means much more than the student sitting in a room with the rest of his or her class taking an exam for that class, that school, that district, or that state. How the student performs on such exams will contribute useful information to an IDEA-related evaluation, but large-scale tests or group-administered instruments are not enough to diagnose a disability or determine what, if any, special education or related services the student might need, let alone plan an appropriate educational program for the student.

The evaluation must use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the student, including information provided by the parent. When conducting an initial evaluation, it's important to examine all areas of a student's functioning to determine not only if the student is a student with a disability, but also determine the student's educational needs. This full and individual evaluation may include evaluating the student's: 

  • health,
  • vision and hearing,
  • social and emotional status,
  • general intelligence,
  • academic performance,
  • communication, and
  • motor abilities

As IDEA states, the school system must ensure that the evaluation is sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the student's special education and related service needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the student has been classified. 

Variety of Assessment Tools 

The evaluation must use a variety of assessment tools and strategies. Under IDEA, it is inappropriate to base any eligibility decision upon the results of only one procedure. Tests alone will not give a comprehensive picture of how a student performs or what he/she knows and is able to do. Only by collecting data through a variety of approaches (e.g., observations, interviews, norm-references tests, criterion-referenced tests, curriculum-based assessment, and so on) and from a variety of sources (parents, teachers, specialists, and student) can an adequate picture be obtained of the student's strengths and challenges. 

IDEA also requires schools to use technically sound instruments and processes in evaluation. Technically sound instruments generally refer to assessments that have been shown through research to be valid and reliable. Technically sound processes require that assessments and other evaluation materials be: 

  • administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel;
  • administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of the assessments; and
  • Used for the purposes for which the assessments or measures are valid and reliable.

In conjunction with using a variety of sound tools and processes, assessments must include those that are tailored to assess specific areas of educational need (for example, reading or math) and not merely those that are designed to provide a single general intelligence quotient, or IQ.

Taken together, all of this information can be used to determine whether the student has a disability under IDEA, the specific nature of the student's special needs, whether the student needs special education and related services and, if so, to design an appropriate program. 

Non-discriminatory Evaluation 

Another important component in evaluation is to ensure that assessment tools are not discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis. Evaluation must be conducted in the student's typical, accustomed mode of communication (unless it is clearly not feasible to do so) and in a form that will yield accurate information about what the student knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally. For some students, English is not the native language; others use sign language, or assistive or alternative augmentative communication devices to communicate. To assess such a student using a means of communication or response not highly familiar to the student raises the probability that the evaluation results will yield minimal, if any, information about what the student knows and can do. 

Specifically, consideration of language, culture, and communication mode means the following: 

  • If your student has limited English proficiency, materials and procedures used to assess your student must be selected and administered to ensure that they measure the extent to which your student has a disability and needs special education, rather than measuring your student's English language skills.

This provision in the law is meant to protect students of different racial, cultural, or language backgrounds from misdiagnosis. For example, students' cultural backgrounds may affect their behavior or test responses in ways that teachers or other personnel do not understand. Similarly, if a student speaks a language other than English or has limited English proficiency, he or she may not understand directions or words on tests and may be unable to answer correctly. As a result, a student may mistakenly appear to be a slow student or to have a hearing or communication problem. 

  • If an assessment is not conducted under standard conditions-meaning that some condition of the test has been changed (such as the qualifications of the person giving the test or the method of giving the test)-a description of the extent to which it varied from standard conditions must be included in the evaluation report.
  • If your student has impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the law requires that tests are selected and administered so as best to ensure that test results accurately reflect his or her aptitude or achievement level (or whatever other factors the test claims to measure), and not merely reflect your student's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (unless the test being used is intended to measure those skills).


Special education law requires the school to meet strict time deadlines in evaluating a student and formulating an appropriate IEP. Connecticut regulations require that upon initial referral, the school must complete its evaluation and, if appropriate, implement an IEP within 45 school days excluding weekends, holidays, school vacations and the time required to obtain written parental consent for evaluation. The CT regulations do, however, allow for the PPT team to extend this timeline IF there is mutual, written consent from the parent. This extension of the timeline is generally used to gather more data from an implemented intervention. The initial referral that begins this 45-day period can take place at any time during the school year, even if there are not 45 days left before the end of the school year. In that case, the "clock" will stop when summer vacation begins and will start again when school reconvenes in the fall. 

Determining Eligibility 

Once the evaluation has been completed another PPT meeting will be convened. This is called PPT 2. At this meeting, your child's assessment results will be explained. The specialists who assessed your child will explain what they did, why they used the tests they did, your child's results on those tests or other evaluation procedures, and what your child's scores mean when compared to other children of the same age and grade.

It is important to know that the PPT team may not determine that a child is eligible if the determinant factor for making that judgment is the child's lack of instruction in reading or math or the child's limited English proficiency. The child must otherwise meet the law's definition of a "child with a disability"-meaning that he or she has one of the thirteen (13) disabilities listed in the IDEA and, because of that disability, needs special education and related services.

If the evaluation results indicate that your child meets the definition of one or more of the disabilities listed under IDEA and needs special education and related services, the results will form the basis for developing your child's IEP. 

IDEA's Definition of a "Child with a Disability" 

IDEA lists different disability categories under which a child may be found eligible for special education and related services. These categories are: 

To find out more about these disabilities and how IDEA defines them you will find them defined in the glossary.

Having a disability, though, does not necessarily make a child eligible for special education. Consider this language from the IDEA regulations:

"Child with a disability means a child evaluated as having one of the disabilities listed above and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services."

This provision includes the very important phrase "...and who, by reason thereof..." This means that, because of the disability, the child needs special education and related services. Many children have disabilities that do not bring with them the need for extra educational assistance or individualized educational programming. If a child has a disability but is not eligible under IDEA, he or she MAY be eligible for the protections afforded by other laws-such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. It's not uncommon for a child to have a 504 plan at school to address disability-related educational needs. Such a child will receive needed assistance but not under IDEA. 

If, however the PPT team determines that the child qualifies for AND is education the team will craft an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

The Individualized Education Plan - The Blueprint for Special Education

The Big Picture 

The IEP has two general purposes: (1) to establish measurable annual goals for the child; and (2) to state the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services that the Fairfield Public Schools will provide to the student. When constructing an appropriate educational program for a child with a disability, the IEP team broadly considers the child's involvement and participation in three main areas of school life: 

  • the general education curriculum,
  • extracurricular activities, and
  • Non-academic activities.

General education curriculum is defined as the subject matter provided to all children and the associated skills they are expected to develop and apply. Examples include math, science, history, and language arts.

Extracurricular activities and non-academic activities are defined as school sponsored activities that fall outside the realm of the general curriculum. These are usually voluntary and tend to be more social than academic. They typically involve others of the same age and may be organized and guided by teachers or other school personnel. Examples: yearbook, school newspaper, school sports, school clubs, lunch, recess, band, pep rallies, assemblies, field trips, after-school programs, recreational clubs.

The IEP is the blueprint, or plan, for the special education experience of a child with a disability across these school environments. 

Who Develops the IEP?
The IEP is developed by a team of school personnel and the child's parents. This team meets at least once a year and more often, if necessary. Team members work together to craft an education that will address the child's individual needs and enable the child to participate in general education and school activities, learning alongside his or her nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate (LRE). The IEP team then puts its crafted plan down in writing-resulting in the IEP that will guide the delivery of the child's special education and related services. 

What an IEP Must Contain?
When the members of a child's IEP team sit down together and consider how the child will be involved in and participate in school life, they must be sure that the resulting IEP contains the specific information required by IDEA. The IDEA requires that each IEP contain the following: 

The Connecticut State Department of Education provides all Connecticut school districts with the IEP form that must be used in Connecticut's public schools. - Independent Educational Evaluation Criteria 

Transition Planning - Extra IEP Content for Youth with Disabilities 

For students approaching the end of their secondary school education (age 16 and above), the IEP must also include statements about what are called transition services, which are designed to help youth with disabilities prepare for life after high school. 

IDEA requires that, beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP team, the IEP must include: 

  • measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and
  • The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.

Also, beginning no later than one year before the child reaches the age of 18, the IEP must include: 

  • A statement that the child has been informed of the child's rights under Part B of IDEA (if any) that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority.

The Planning and Placement Team Meeting

At its essence the Planning and Placement Team meeting is a collaborative problem-solving process. All members of the team, including the parents, should come to the table with an open mind ready to listen to the varied perspectives of the entire team. Each and every individual with a disability presents with a different constellation of strengths and challenges that require a creative and collaborative approach to planning. Successful teams understand from the beginning that this process is complex and dynamic and must respond to the changing needs of a student throughout their educational career. Open and honest communication is essential to the process. Each student must have at least one PPT annually to determine the contents of the IEP. Meetings during the year can be held to adjust to changing needs. Any member of the team, including parents, can request a PPT to discuss progress and ask the team to consider adjustments based on that progress. PPT meetings are scheduled at mutually agreeable times for all team members. There are 5 primary types of PPT meetings. Each has a distinct purpose. Click on the links below to see them described in detail. 

Conflict Resolutions Processes - What if we can't agree?
The Special Education Complaint Resolution Process
The special education complaint resolution process is a mechanism whereby a parent and/or other interested party or parties may file a written complaint with the Bureau of Special Education alleging that the local school district has violated a requirement of federal or state law concerning special education. Bureau staff will not look into any part of a complaint that is also part of a due process hearing until the final hearing decision has been made. If an issue raised in a complaint was already decided in a due process hearing with the same parties, the hearing decision is final and the issue raised in the complaint will not be reviewed. Similarly, if an issue involving the same parties was decided in a due process hearing, the issue will not be considered through the complaint resolution process. A complaint alleging that a school district has failed to carry out a final decision of a due process hearing must be resolved by the Bureau of Special Education of the State Department of Education.

How long do I have to file a complaint?
A complaint must be filed within one year of the time it is believed that the school district failed to follow the law.

How will I be notified of the results of the complaint investigation?
A written report of findings, conclusions, corrective action and recommendations, if appropriate, will be mailed within 60 calendar days of receipt of the request, unless an extension is granted for extenuating circumstances.

You can file a complaint by writing to:

Connecticut State Department of Education
Bureau of Special Education
P.O. Box 2219, Room 359
Hartford, CT 06145-2219 - FAX: (860) 713-7153

The complaint should state the following: that the school district is not carrying out IDEA or state laws that protect children with disabilities and the facts on which the complaint is based.

Due Process Directions and Forms

Conflict Resolution Process - What if we can't agree

Due Process Hearing
The due process hearing is a legal process in which a hearing officer appointed by the Due Process Unit of the Bureau of Special Education, State Department of Education, decides the resolution of a disagreement between you and the school district. A school district may request a due process hearing as well. Due process procedures include advisory opinions, hearings and expedited hearings.

Once a request for a hearing is made by the parent, several things will occur, some at the same time. The school district must offer to meet with you and relevant members of the PPT that have specific knowledge of the facts identified in the due process complaint within 15 calendar days of receiving notice of your request for a hearing. This is referred to as a resolution meeting. This resolution meeting gives both you and school staff a chance to discuss the due process complaint and resolve the problem. If you do not bring an attorney to the resolution meeting, the school cannot have an attorney at the meeting. If the dispute is not resolved within 30 days of receiving the complaint, the due process hearing the 45 day timeline to issue a hearing decision begins.

Does a resolution meeting have to be held?
No. You and the school can agree in writing to not hold the resolution meeting. Additionally, a resolution meeting would not have to be held if you and the school decide go to mediation.

Placement during Due Process Procedures: What happens to my child while a due process hearing is ongoing?
While a due process hearing is pending, your child's classification, program, or placement cannot be changed from what they were at the time a due process hearing was requested unless you and the school district agree otherwise. This is referred to as stay-put. However, there are exceptions to the stay-put provision. If you request due process because you disagree with a decision to remove your child from his/her education placement to an interim alternative education setting (IAES) for matters related to weapons, drugs or infliction of serious bodily injury, your child will remain in the IAES pending the decision of the hearing officer or the expiration of the time for which he or she was placed in that setting, whichever occurs first unless you and the school district agree otherwise. If you request a due process hearing to challenge a manifestation determination, stay-put would not apply and your child's placement could be changed while the due process procedures were happening. 

What happens during a hearing?
You and the school district may present evidence, including expert testimony, cross-examine witnesses, and compel the presence of any witnesses. You and the school district must exchange copies of all documents and the names of all witnesses you intend to present no later than five business days prior to the hearing. Evaluations to be used at the hearing must be presented no later than five business days prior to the hearing. You must also provide this information to the hearing officer by the same deadline. A record of the hearing will be made. You have the right to obtain a written, or, at your request, electronic copy of the word for word record of the hearing as well as the hearing decision. 

What has to happen before a due process hearing can begin?
The party receiving a request for a hearing, usually the school district, has 15 calendar days from the date the hearing request is received to notify the hearing officer and the other party in writing if they think the request for a hearing does not include required information. The hearing officer has to make a decision as to the adequacy of the hearing request within five calendar days. Once the hearing officer has reviewed these responses, the individual will decide if any other changes must be made to the hearing request. 

When may I request due process hearing?
You may ask for a due process hearing within two years of the time the school district proposes or refuses to:

  • Consider or find that your child is disabled;
  • Evaluate your child;
  • Place your child in a school program that meets his or her needs; or
  • Provide your child with a free appropriate education that meets his or her needs.

Expedited Hearing
An expedited hearing is a hearing that is held quickly so that a situation can be addressed without undue delay. In an expedited hearing, the hearing must occur within 20 school days of the date the hearing is requested and the hearing officer must make his or her decision within ten school days of the close of the hearing. The parties involved in the hearing must exchange information to be presented as evidence at least two business days prior to an expedited hearing. An expedited hearing will be arranged when the following occurs:

  • The school district thinks that keeping your child in the current placement is highly likely to result in injury to your child or to others and the school district wants to put your child in an IAES for no more than 45 days;
  • The school district does not want your child, who is placed in an IAES, to return to his or her original placement at the end of the 45 day period because it believes your child is likely to injure him/herself or others in that placement;
  • You believe that the school district has improperly removed your child for more than ten consecutive school days;
  • You believe that the school district has improperly removed your child for more than ten school days in a school year;
  • You do not agree with the school district's placement of your child in an IAES; or
  • You do not agree with the manifestation determination.

The hearing officer may order that your child be returned to the placement from which he or she was removed or placed in an interim alternative education setting for no more than 45 school days if it is determined that keeping your child in the current placement will more than likely result in injury to the child or to others. The hearing officer may not order a placement in an IAES for more than 45 school days at any one time. However, the school may ask for this process to be repeated.

What is mediation?
Mediation is a way to settle a dispute when you and school district do not agree on:

  • How or whether your child is disabled;
  • Evaluating your child;
  • Placing your child in a school program that meets his or her needs;
  • Or any other matters related to providing your child with a free appropriate public education that meets his or her needs.

Both you and the school district must agree to enter into mediation before it can occur. The mediation session will be held in a place and at a time that is convenient for both you and the school staff.

What happens during mediation?
The mediator will try to help you and the school district settle your differences. If you and the school district reach agreement on the issues, what you have agreed to will be put in writing. The mediation agreement is a legally binding contract enforceable in court. If you and the school district cannot reach agreement, the mediator will certify in writing that mediation has not resulted in an agreement. Discussions that take place during mediation are confidential and cannot be used as evidence at any subsequent due process hearing or court action.

Who may act as a mediator?
The State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education, has a list of mediators and will assign a mediator on a random basis from a list of individuals who:

  • Are trained in mediation techniques;
  • Do not show favor to either the parent or the school district;
  • Are familiar with special education laws;
  • Are education consultants with Connecticut State Department of Education; and
  • Do not provide direct service to the child who is the subject of the mediation.

May I bring an advocate or lawyer to the mediation conference?
You may bring an advocate and/or lawyer with you to help you in the mediation conference. The school district may also bring a lawyer to the mediation conference. You will be responsible for the cost of your attorney's fees.

Do I have to try mediation?
Mediation is voluntary and may not be used to:

  • Deny or delay your right to a hearing; or
  • Deny any other rights that you have under state or federal special education law.

CT SDOE Request for Mediation form 

Advisory Opinion
An advisory opinion is a non-binding opinion issued by a hearing officer after consideration of a brief presentation of information by both the parents and the school district. Based upon this non-binding opinion, you or the school may decide not to bring the matter to a full due process hearing and, instead, settle the dispute.
During the Advisory Opinion Process you and the school district will each have 45 minutes to present your case to a hearing officer. Each party may present one or two witnesses during their allotted time and introduce reliable and essential documents such as the most recent IEP, revisions to the IEP, educational evaluations, progress reports, transcripts, independent evaluations, and teacher narratives. You and the school district must exchange copies of any documents and the names of any witnesses you intend to present no later than five calendar days prior to the advisory opinion. You must also provide this information to the hearing officer at the same time. You will have 15 minutes to respond to the school district's presentation, and the school district will have 15 minutes to respond to yours. Afterwards, the hearing officer will render an oral opinion. No record will be made of the advisory opinion process. You may bring an advocate or lawyer and up to two witnesses with you to the advisory opinion session. The school district may also bring a lawyer and up to two witnesses. Each party is responsible for the cost of their respective attorney's fees. An advisory opinion is non-binding and does not restrict your right or the school district's right to engage in other forms of resolution such as mediation or due process hearing. Advisory opinion sessions are not open to the public and no record of the proceeding is made. The advisory opinion is confidential and may not be used as proof in any future due process hearing.

CT SDOE Request for Advisory Opinion 

Please be advised that if you would like more information on these dispute resolutions processes please contact Robert Mancusi, Executive Director of Special Education and Special Programs at (203) 255-8379 OR by email at

Tips for Parents - How to be an effective advocate

The intent of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), the federal law guaranteeing a free appropriate public education to each child with a disability, is to enable parents to participate as equal partners in the development of their child's educational program. A collaborative team consisting of both parents and professionals is essential to better define the needs of the child. The guidelines below will help you build this foundation.

  • Recognize that parents and professionals have areas of knowledge and skills to contribute to the joint task of working together for the benefit of the child.
  • Encourage mutual respect.
  • Establish a working relationship with your child's educators.
  • Promote a sense of joint responsibility.
  • Develop honest, direct, and clear communication.
  • Maintain an open exchange of information.
  • Support shared planning and decision-making.

The Collaborative Team Process requires effective parent/professional communication, which has been shown to result in improved educational programming for students. Both parties bring important information to the relationship. Professionals bring specialized training, knowledge and experience; parents provide keen insight based on firsthand intimate knowledge of the child.

Benefits of Collaborative Teams include:

  • Increased ownership and commitment to goals
  • More successful implementation of planned interventions
  • Shared knowledge and expertise
  • Increased cohesiveness and willingness to work together on future projects
  • Increased evidence of "process gain"- generating new ideas through group interaction not generated through individual work

Being an advocate for your child requires assertiveness. Assertive behavior yields positive results. Sometimes people confuse being assertive and being aggressive. Following are definitions to describe these behaviors and their anticipated outcomes:

Assertive Behavior
Definition: Interpersonal behavior in which an individual actively communicates his/her personal rights without violating the rights of others. Assertive behavior is a direct, honest, and appropriate expression of one's feelings, opinions, and beliefs (Alberti and Emmons, 1979; Lazarus, 1971).
Results: Development of long term effective relationships; concerns and questions are discussed and handled in a positive manner.

Non-Assertive or Passive Behavior 
Definition: Interpersonal behavior that enables an individual's rights to be violated in one of two ways: 1) an individual ignores his/her personal rights; 2) others are allowed to infringe upon an individual's personal rights. The individual is denying and inhibiting him/herself from expressing actual preferences.
Results: Person experiences behavior resulting in hurt and anxious feelings. By allowing others to violate one's rights, desired goals are seldom achieved.

Aggressive Behavior 
Definition: Behavior in which an individual expresses his/her rights without consideration for the rights of others. Results: The violation of the rights of others results in domination and humiliation. Although goals may be perceived as accomplished, negative feelings and frustration are generated as end results. Also, results may be short lived since cooperation is needed by all to ensure success of a program. 

Web resources for Parents


State Agencies and Bureaus

 CONNECTICUT COUNCIL ON DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES (DD Council) is a governor-appointed body of people with disabilities, family members, and professionals who work together to promote full inclusion of all people with disabilities in community life. The Council on Developmental Disabilities is located at 460 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut 06106. Telephone: (860) 418-6160 (Voice) or (860) 418-6172 (TTY) or 1 (800) 653-1134 (Toll-free in Connecticut/Voice).  Website:

 DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES (DCF) focuses on working with families and communities to improve child safety, to ensure that more children have permanent families, and to advance the overall well-being of children. To report abuse or neglect call the DCF Hot Line at 1 (800) 842-2288 (state-wide/Voice) 1 (800) 624-5518 (TTY). Website:


Department of Children and Families  

Bridgeport Office
100 Fairfield Avenue

Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604

(203) 384-5300

(203) 384-5399 (TTY)



DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES (DDS) coordinates and oversees services for people of all ages with intellectual disability and persons medically diagnosed as having Prader-Willi Syndrome.  These include: comprehensive case management services; early intervention for infants and toddlers; community-based residential programs; supported living for people in their own residences, job training and supported employment, respite and other family support, and rehabilitative day programs. All services are subject to the availability of resources and may require a waiting period. Services and referrals to community resources are available through three regions. 


DDS’s Central Office is located at 460 Capitol Avenue – Hartford, Connecticut 06106. Telephone 🙁 860) 418-6000 (Voice) or (860) 418-6079 (TTY) or (866) 737-0330 (Voice/TTY).  Website:  

Department of Developmental Services Regional Office Locations


West Region
55 West Main Street

Waterbury, Connecticut 06702
(866) 274-3888 (Toll-free/Voice) or (203) 805-7400 (Voice)


Other DDS Programs:

Birth to Three Program is a statewide early intervention program for infants and toddlers with developmental delays. The system includes a range of services for children from birth to 36 months, such as home visits, therapies, developmental evaluation, parent support, and health services depending on the needs of the child and his/her family. INFOLINE (211) serves as the access point for the program. For information or to make a referral to the program, call; (800)-505-7000 (Toll-free, Voice/TTY).  Website:

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (DOL) provides protection to workers on the job by enforcing statutes relating to payment of wages, health and safety, employment of minors, family and medical leave, representation by labor organizations and resolution of labor disputes. The Research Office monitors the state’s economy and its impact on the work force. Publications are available to the public regarding the labor market, worker protection and other employment-related information.  The Department of Labor’s Central Office is located at 200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, Connecticut 06109. Telephone: (860) 263-6000 (Voice) or (860) 263-6074 (TTY).  Website:


The Department of Labor administers:


Unemployment Insurance, a joint federal/state program providing benefits for eligible workers who qualify under Connecticut law. Unemployment insurance does not cover all cases, and benefits are paid only when certain legal conditions are met.

GOVERNOR’S COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES distributes public awareness information about employment opportunities for people with disabilities and promotes increased awareness of the value of hiring people with disabilities. The Committee itself does not provide job placement services to people with disabilities. For more information, call (860) 263-6067 (Voice); or write to: Department of Labor, 200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, Connecticut 06109.



LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND AND PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED lends books and magazines on diskette, cassette or in Braille. Playback equipment, such as tape recorders, is provided free of charge to any Connecticut adult or child who is prevented by a visual or physical disability from reading ordinary-size print. All materials are available by postage-free mail. Call or write to request an application and certification procedures. The Library is located at 198 West Street, Rocky Hill, Connecticut 06067. Telephone: (860) 721-2020 (Voice/TTY); toll-free: (800) 842-4516 (Voice/TTY).  Website:


DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION SERVICES (DMHAS) works to improve the quality of life of the people in Connecticut by providing an integrated network of comprehensive, effective and efficient mental health and addiction services that foster self-sufficiency, dignity and respect.

 DMHAS promotes and administers comprehensive, recovery-oriented services in the areas of mental health treatment and substance abuse prevention and treatment throughout Connecticut. While the Department’s prevention services are available to all Connecticut citizens, its mandate is to serve adults (over 18 years of age) with psychiatric or substance use disorders, or both, who lack the financial means to obtain such services on their own.  DMHAS also provides collaborative programs for individuals with special needs, such as: persons with HIV/AIDS infection, people in the criminal justice system, those with problem gambling disorders, pregnant women with substance abuse problems, persons with traumatic brain injury or hearing impairment, those with co-occurring substance abuse and mental illness, and adolescents transitioning out of the Department of Children and Families.


DMHAS operates on the belief that most people with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders can and should be treated in community settings, and that inpatient treatment should be used only when absolutely necessary to meet the best interests of the individual.  Effective care requires that services such as residential, supportive, rehabilitative and crisis intervention programs are available within their local communities.


DMHAS’ Central Office is located at 410 Capitol Avenue, P.O. Box 341431, Hartford, Connecticut 06134. Telephone Number: (860) 418-7000 (Voice) or (860) 418-6707 (TTY). (Toll-free) 1 (800) 446-7348 (Voice) or 1 (888) 621-3551 (TTY). Website:  

DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES (DMV) processes HANDICAPPED PARKING PERMIT applications (temporary and permanent). There is a $5.00 application fee for temporary permits. A permanent handicapped parking permit is valid for the same duration as your license or identification card; temporary permits are valid for no more than six months. Your physician must certify on the application form that your disability or medical condition qualifies you to receive a permit. To obtain an application form, call the Department of Motor Vehicles Office (860) 263-5700 (Within Hartford area or outside of Connecticut), 1 (800) 842-8222 (Elsewhere in Connecticut) or go to the Motor Vehicles Office nearest you. Website:


THE CHILD ADVOCATE (Consolidated with the OFFICE OF GOVERMENTAL ACCOUNTABILITY (OGA)) was established in 1995 to protect the civil, legal and special rights of all the children in Connecticut, and to advance policies throughout the state that promote their well-being and best interests. For more information, call or write to the Child Advocate at 999 Asylum Ave. Hartford, Connecticut 06105 - Telephone: (860) 566-2106 (Voice/TTY) or toll-free: 1 (800) 994-0939 (Voice/TTY).  Website:


OFFICE OF THE HEALTHCARE ADVOCATE (OHA) - The OHA assists with questions related to enrollment in healthcare coverage, understanding the referral and pre-authorization process. They also provide assistance with grievance processes and appealing denials.  Located at:  OHA, 153 Market St, Hartford, CT, 06144.  Telephone: (Voice) (866) 466-4446.  Website:


OFFICE OF PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (P&A) is an independent State agency created to safeguard and advance the civil and human rights of people with disabilities in Connecticut by providing information, referral, consultation, organizing assistance to local groups, and various types and levels of advocacy assistance. Part of a nationwide network of protection and advocacy systems, P&A operates under both State and federal legislative mandates to: provide information, referral, and advocacy services; pursue legal and administrative remedies on behalf of people with disabilities who experience disability-related discrimination; conduct investigations into complaints from people with disabilities; and investigate allegations of abuse and neglect of adults who have intellectual disability (ages 18-59) and people in psychiatric facilities.  The agency also provides public education and training and informs policymakers about issues affecting people with disabilities. 

The Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities is located at 60-B Weston Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06120.  Telephone: (860) 297-4300 (Voice); (860) 297-4380 (TTY) or 1 (800) 842-7303 (Voice/TTY). Website: e-mail:  

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH (DPH) at 410 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06134 protects the health and safety of the people of Connecticut and actively works to prevent disease and promote wellness through education and programs such as prenatal care, immunizations, AIDS awareness, supplemental foods, and cancer (mammography) screening. DPH also monitors infectious diseases, and environmental and occupational health hazards; regulates health care providers such as health facilities, health professionals, and emergency medical services; provides testing and monitoring support through the state laboratory; collects and analyzes health data to help plan policy for the future; and is the repository for all birth, marriage and death certificates.  Telephone: (860) 509-8000 (Voice); (860) 509-7191 (TTY). Website:

DPH Programs:

Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs  (CYSHCN) is a statewide program for children with chronic illness or disability. The program partners with community-based services to provide care coordination; resource linkages to support groups; agencies and other helpful services; educational support and respite funding when available. The CSHCN program can pay for medical services. For information, call Child Development Infoline at 1-(800) 505-7000 (Toll-free).

Connecticut Collaborative to Improve Autism Services  is a statewide collaborative effort sponsored by the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Program and the University of Connecticut Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). Child Development Infoline (CDI) at 1-800-505-7000. Website:  

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) oversees the following programs:

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) provides comprehensive, confidential services for persons of all ages who are legally blind. A person is legally blind if central visual acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with correcting lenses or if the visual field is restricted to an angle of 20 degrees or less. Services include: counseling and referral; preschool, elementary, secondary education; vocational rehabilitation; rehabilitation teaching; orientation and mobility instruction; small business enterprise; technology evaluation and training on adaptive equipment; employment options within an industrial setting; industries and sales; support groups; confidential registry of persons who are blind; prevention; consultation; and public education.  BESB is located at 184 Windsor Avenue, Windsor, Connecticut 06095 Telephone: 1 (800) 842-4510 (VOICE/TTY/Toll-free) or Hartford (860) 602-4000 (Voice). Website:

Connect-Ability brings employers together with individuals who have disabilities.  The aim is to remove barriers and teach employers that employees with disabilities can join the work force and succeed.  Toll-free: (866) 844.1903. Website:

Connecticut Tech Act Project is a program whose goal is to assure that all citizens with disabilities have access to necessary assistive technology. This is accomplished through public awareness, systems change activities, training, advocacy, and services to individuals. Call 1-(800) 842-4524 or (860) 424-4881 for more information.  Website:

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DORS) serve individuals with hearing impairments. DORS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services provide interpreting services, job counseling and placement, personal and family counseling, information and referral services, research and advocacy. CDHI is located at 67 Prospect Ave., 3rd Floor, Hartford, Connecticut 06106. General information and interpreting services: (860) 231-8756 (Voice/TTY) or Toll-free in Connecticut (800)-708-6796 (Voice/TTY). For emergency interpreting services after hours, call (860) 231-7623 (Voice/TTY). Telecommunication relay service may be used for both numbers. Website:  

Disability Determination Services Unit is responsible for deciding eligibility for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) programs. These programs provide cash benefits to individuals who are unable to maintain employment due to the severity of their disabilities.  Telephone: (Toll-free) (800) 842-8320.

Independent Living Program a statewide network of community-based, consumer-controlled centers for independent living that provide services to assist persons with disabilities to live more independently.  Call toll-free: (800) 537-2549 or (860) 424-4844 (Voice) for more information.

MED-Connect allows people with disabilities to engage in employment without risking eligibility for needed medical services through the Medicaid program. The program also allows certain individuals to keep other necessary services needed to remain employed. In general, an eligible person with a disabling condition who is employed can qualify for Medicaid without the use of spend down while earning income in excess of traditional income limits. 

Vocational Rehabilitation helps individuals with physical and mental disabilities, prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment. Information on BRS services is available by contacting the BRS central office at (860) 424-4844 (Voice), (860) 424-4839 (TTY) or by calling the toll-free number 1-(800)-537-2549 (Voice) or (860) 424-4839 (TTY).

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program (WIPA) Community Work Incentive Coordinators help consumers figure out how much going back to work would impact their federal and state benefits.  (Toll-free)  1 (800) 773-4636.

The DORS Central Office is located at 25 Sigourney, 11th floor, Hartford, CT 06106. Telephone (860) 424-4844 or (Toll-free) 1 (800) 537-2549 (Voice) or (860)424-4839 (TTY).


Western Region

Bridgeport Office
1057 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Telephone:  (203) 551-5500*
Fax: (203) 579-6903
Danbury:  (203) 207-8990*
Stamford:  (203) 251-9430*
Torrington:  (860) 496-6990*
Waterbury:  (203) 578-4550*
*Voice and TDD/TTY


DORS Directions and Office Locations available at:


DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES (DSS) serves families and individuals who need assistance in maintaining or achieving their full potential for self-direction, self-reliance, and independent living. The Department of Social Services’ Central Office is located at (new location) 55 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT  06105.  Telephone: (Toll-free) 1 (800) 842-1508 or 1 (800) 842-4524 (TTY).  Website: .


Western Region


Bridgeport (203) 551-2700; (TTY) 384-5399

Danbury (203) 207-8900

Stamford (203) 251-9300

Torrington (860) 496-6900

Waterbury (203) 597-4000


DSS operates many programs in the State of Connecticut including:

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Waiver, a Medicaid Waiver program, provides a range of non-medical, home and community based services, to assist adults who have an acquired brain injury (not a developmental or degenerative disorder) to live in the community.  Adults must be between the ages of 18 and 64 to apply, must be able to participate in the development of a service plan in partnership with a Department of Social Services social worker, or have a Conservator to do so, and must meet all technical, procedural and financial requirements of the Medicaid program, or the Medicaid for Employed Disabled program. An adult deemed eligible for the ABI Waiver, is eligible for all Medicaid covered services. Applications and information about the ABI Waivers are available at DSS offices throughout the state.

Adult Services provides home care services to eligible people with disabilities. Social workers coordinate planning and management of services to help clients stay independent in the community. Services include homemaker, housekeeper, chore person, adult companion, day care, and home-delivered meals.  Individuals must meet income and asset eligibility requirements.

Child Care Certificate Program provides monthly subsidies to eligible families to help them pay for child care.  

Family Support Grant (FSG) provides a monthly subsidy of up to $250 ($3,000 annually) to a parent or other family member who has primary responsibility for a child with a developmental disability (age 5 through 18) other than an intellectual disability, in order to meet the extraordinary expenses of that child. Gross income cannot be greater than 140% of the previous year's median family income for Connecticut. The subsidy can be used for ongoing costs such as medical expenses, special equipment, medical transportation, and special clothing. There are 25 slots statewide for this program. The Department has established a waiting list. Persons interested in having their names added to the list may contact any of the Department's regional offices, or Social Work Services at (860) 424-5388, to obtain a Waiting List Request Form.  

Fatherhood Initiative promotes the positive involvement and interaction of fathers with their children with an emphasis on children eligible, or formerly eligible for services funded by the temporary assistance for needy families block grant. For information, contact your local DSS office. Website:

Food Stamp Program (now known as SNAP) is a federal program designed to give low-income households extra money to purchase food.  You can apply to the Social Security Office or at the Department for Social Services Office nearest to you.  (Toll-free) 1 (800) 843-1508.  Website:


Home and Community-Based Services is a state-funded program that provides non-medical homecare services as part of an overall case plan to assist adults with physical and/or mental disabilities, ages 18-64 inclusive, to live in the community. The program also provides these services for a family with a supervising relative who is temporarily incapacitated, unable to manage the household, or has a disability. Program services include: adult day care; adult companion; home delivered meals; case management; assistance with chores; case work; homemaker; temporary foster care; social work; teaching homemaker; and personal emergency response system. Eligibility depends on income levels related to Medicaid, asset levels related to SSI, certification of need by a physician or other appropriate healthcare professional, and a DSS social work assessment. Application is made by contacting your local DSS regional office.

Medicaid, also called Title XIX, is a federal program administered by the State of Connecticut, to provide medical coverage for eligible participants. The rules and regulations of the program are extremely complex. Anyone needing help with paying past, current or future medical expenses is encouraged to apply. Contact your nearest regional DDS office. 

Personal Care Assistant (PCA) Waiver is a Medicaid Waiver program that provides personal care assistance services to assist adults with chronic, severe, and permanent disabilities, to live in the community. Adults must be ages 18-64 to apply, must have significant need for hands on assistance with at least two activities of daily living (eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting), must lack family and community supports to meet the need, and must meet all technical, procedural and financial requirements of the Medicaid program, or the Medicaid for Employed Disabled program. Eligible adults must be able to direct their own care and supervise private household employees, or have a Conservator to do so. An adult deemed eligible for the PCA Waiver, is eligible for all Medicaid covered services. An application may be obtained by contacting a Department of Social Services regional office.

Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) and Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Programs are federal and state funded programs that provide health care coverage and financial assistance by paying the cost of Medicare for eligible Medicare beneficiaries. QMB pays Medicare premiums, deductibles and co-payments to fill the gaps on Medicare coverage by eliminating out of pocket expenses. SLMB program pays the Medicare Part B premium. Both programs are administered by the Department of Social Services.

Security Deposit Guarantee Program guarantees landlords up to two months' rent instead of an actual payment.  Households must meet certain eligibility requirements 

State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), also called City or Town Welfare, is a financial assistance program for individuals or households who do not have enough income or resources to meet basic living expenses and who cannot get immediate financial help from other government programs. Decision on each case must be made within ten calendar days of the date assistance was requested, and, if the individual or household is found to be eligible, assistance must be given by the eleventh day. Emergencies with food and medical needs must be met on the same day assistance is requested. For more information call: 1 (800) 658-4472

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) (previously Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or AFDC) is a program funded by the state and federal governments to provide financial and medical assistance to eligible families. The TANF program is designed to enable very poor families to provide basic necessities for their children. TANF funds many programs of DSS. This program includes preventive services, and services to families, the elderly and people with disabilities and SNAP the new food stamp program; and energy assistance.  Info Line: (Toll-free) (800) 658-4472 Website:

UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR EXCELLENCE IN DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES assists people of all ages with disabilities to access the support and services they need to live independently. The Center is a part of a federal system established in 1963 to address the needs of persons with disabilities through a coordinated program of interdisciplinary training, dissemination, outreach services, and applied research. The center promotes interdisciplinary collaboration across academic and community settings and serves as a resource for public policy development through the dissemination of research findings and information about best practices.  The agency, part of the University of Connecticut, is located at: 263 Farmington Avenue, MC6222, Farmington, Connecticut 06030. Telephone: (860) 679-1500 (Voice); (860) 679-1502 (TTY) and toll-free (866) 623-1315.  Website:


Municipal Disability Agencies
Office for Persons with Disabilities
45 Lyon Terrace
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Telephone: (203) 576-7574(Voice/TTY)
Office for Persons with Disabilities
Town Hall, 611 Old Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06430
Telephone: (203) 256-3130 (Voice/TTY)  


Federal Agencies/National Organizations


NEW ENGLAND ADA CENTER facilitates voluntary and effective compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The New England ADA Center is one of ten regional disability and business technical assistance centers funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The Center is a project of Adaptive Environments, Inc., a nonprofit organization. New England ADA Center is located at 180-200 Portland Street, First Floor, Boston, Massachusetts 02114.  Telephone: 1 (800) 949-4232 (toll-free Voice/TTY). Website:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DOJ) - CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION - The primary goal of the Disability Rights section is to achieve equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the United States. Telephone:  (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY)   Website:

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (EEOC) protects individuals from discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability. Discrimination by employers with 15 or more employees is prohibited in all aspects of the hiring and employment process or any other terms, privileges or conditions of employment provided or imposed by the employer. More information about these programs may be obtained from your local town or city government. The EEOC can be contacted at 131 M Street NE, Washington, DC  20507.  Telephone:  (800) 669-4000 or (800) 669-6820 (TTY) for the field office near you. Website: .

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION administers programs for persons with disabilities who cannot work or are limited in their ability to work. Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is paid to persons with disabilities who are unable to work due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months, or whose disability will result in death. Certain children, adult children with disabilities, widows/widowers may be eligible for SSDI.  Check the blue pages of your phone book under “Social Security Administration” for the local Social Security office or call 1 (800) 722-1213 (toll-free).  Website: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal income assistance program for the people who are elderly, blind, and/or disabled. Unlike Social Security Disability, SSI has limits on a recipient’s income and assets. Recipients may receive both Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income, if eligible for both. Check the blue pages of your phone book under “Social Security Administration” for the telephone number of the local Social Security office.  For additional information, contact Social Security at (800) 772-1213 (Voice), (800) 325-0778 (TTY) Website: 
Disability Organizations/Resources


ADAPT (American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today) focuses on promoting services in the community instead of institutionalizing people with disabilities in special facilities and nursing homes. Attendant services help with daily living needs such as eating, dressing, toileting, and moving from wheelchair to bed and are the cornerstone to community based services for people with severe disabilities. On the national level, ADAPT has targeted the reallocation of one quarter of the federal and state Medicaid dollars from institutional programs to consumer controlled community based programs. Website:

AIDS/HIV RESOURSES AIDS PROJECTS These projects provide direct-service, community-based services that are run by mostly volunteers.  Services, which vary from project to project include: outreach and education; case management; meals-on-wheels; hotlines in English and Spanish; financial help; transportation, and housing.  There are support groups for people with HIV and for people with AIDS.  There are also support groups for caregivers.  Website:

For more information about AIDS Projects, call the most local project listed below. The HIV/AIDS Hotline is: (800) 953-2371. Telephone: (860) 247-2437

Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project...................(203) 855-9535

Evergreen Network.............................(203) 254-0511

Stamford Cares..................................(203) 977-5096


AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COALITION OF CONNECTICUT, INC. (ADACC) informs Connecticut citizens about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and works to foster voluntary compliance. It provides information, training, and technical assistance on rights and responsibilities under the ADA. Outreach strategies have been developed to ensure minority individuals with disabilities and their families understand the law. An alternative dispute resolution service provides an alternative to litigating ADA disputes. The ADACC Office is located at 60B Weston Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06120. Telephone: (860) 297-4383

ARC CONNECTICUT (ARC CT) formerly the Association for Retarded Citizens Connecticut, is a private, non-profit organization that advocates for full participation of people with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of community life. Services include residential services, vocational services, education, advocacy, and appropriate referral. For information, contact ARC Connecticut, 43 Woodlawn Street Suite 260, Hartford, CT 06105, (860)246-6400 (Voice). Website:

CENTER FOR MEDICARE ADVOCACY, INC. is a national non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides education, advocacy, and legal assistance to help elders and people with disabilities obtain Medicare and necessary healthcare. The Center focuses on the needs of Medicare beneficiaries, people with chronic conditions, and those in need of long-term care. The organization is involved in writing, education, and advocacy activities of importance to Medicare beneficiaries nationwide. The Center's national office is in Connecticut, with offices in Washington, DC and throughout the country. The Center's staff act as consultants and trainers for groups that are interested in learning about healthcare rights, Medicare coverage and appeals, or in developing Medicare advocacy projects. For assistance with a Medicare or health care access problem, write or call the Center, P.O. Box 350, Willimantic, CT 06226: (800) 262-4414 (toll-free) or (860) 456-7790. Website:

CHRONIC FATIGUE IMMUNE DEFICIENCY & FIBROMYALGIA ASSOCIATION (CFIDS) publishes a quarterly newsletter, provides information and referrals to persons living with CFIDS, Chronic Epstein Barr Virus or Fibromyalgia. For more information, contact Connecticut CFIDS Association, Inc. P.O. Box 3010, Milford, Connecticut 06460 (800) 952-2037 (Voice/TTY).  Website:

CONNECTICUT ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF (CAD) is an organization of concerned citizens who promote the best interests of people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Connecticut. For more information, write to Connecticut Association of the Deaf, P.O. Box 207589, West Hartford, Connecticut 06127-0589. Interpreter: (866) 351-1959 Website:

CONNECTICUT AUTISM RESOURCE AND EDUCATION ALLIANCE (CARE) was established in May 2004 as a non-profit, donor-funded corporation dedicated to providing young children with autism, their families, caregivers, and service providers with intervention opportunities, as well as information, and materials needed to develop, maintain and manage successful intensive intervention programs. The primary goals of CARE Alliance are providing the funding for educational opportunities for young children with autism spectrum disorder and training for parents, caregivers, and service providers in intensive, extensive autism intervention methods. The CARE Alliance is located at P.O. Box 5, Marlborough, CT, 06447 Telephone: (860) 918-0283.

CONNECTICUT AUTISM SPECTRUM RESOURCE CENTER (ASRC) is a non-profit organization committed to raising public awareness about autism spectrum disorders and devoted to empowering families and lessening their isolation. They are dedicated to educating families, professionals and the general public to the many strengths that people with ASD have and to promote the respect that they deserve. 101 North Plains Industrial Road. Harvest Park, Wallingford, CT 06492 Telephone (203) 265-7717; Website

CONNECTICUT FAMILY SUPPORT NETWORK is a network of families who have children with disabilities. They are parents interested in helping other parents to find the supports they need. The Network was created by the Connecticut Family Support Council, a legislatively established partnership of parents and professionals working to improve supports for families of children with disabilities.

Contact your local Family Support Coordinator
Statewide Coordinator: 
Tesha Imperati
Southwest Region:
Lisa Sheppard

Children with Special Health Care Needs Coordinator: 
Laura Knapp

CT-KASA the Connecticut chapter of Kids as Self Advocates (CT-KASA) is a grassroots network of youth with special needs and their friends, speaking on behalf of themselves.  As leaders in our communities, CT-KASA members help to spread information among peers to increase knowledge around various disability issues including: living with special healthcare needs, healthcare transition, education, and employment. Contact: CT-KASA, 263 Farmington Ave., MC622, Farmington, CT 06030; Telephone: (860) 679-1561, (860) 679-1502 (TTY). 

CONNECTICUT PARENT ADVOCACY CENTER, INC. (CPAC) is a statewide nonprofit organization established to inform parents of children with disabilities about special education rights and procedures, and to provide information and referral services for any problems related to the education and welfare of their children. Services include workshops for parents, in-service training for professionals, a newsletter, resource collection and individual assistance. Spanish-speaking staff is available. The Center is located at 338 Main Street, Niantic, Connecticut 06357. Telephone: (860) 739-3089 or (800) 445-2722 (toll-free).  Website:

CONNECTICUT RADIO INFORMATION SYSTEM (CRIS) broadcasts readings 24 hours a day from local and national newspapers, and current magazines. CRIS special radios are provided at no charge to listeners who have a visual, physical or learning disability that prevents them from reading conventional print information. Contact CRIS, 315 Windsor Avenue, Windsor, Connecticut 06095. Telephone: (860) 527-8000 or

(800) 708-0004.  Website:

CORPORATION FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING (CIL) provides an array of services including home modifications, group home development and affordable housing development. CIL is located at 30 Jordan Lane, Wethersfield, Connecticut 06109. Telephone: (860) 563-6011. Website:

ECOLOGICAL HEALTH ORGANIZATION (ECHO) is a statewide non-profit organization that provides advocacy, support resources, education and referral services for people with multiple chemical sensitivity and others who are interested in its prevention. For more information, call: (570) 472-0374.  Website:

EPILEPSY FOUNDATION OF CONNECTICUT is a statewide non-profit organization that provides information and referrals, education programs, summer camp for children with epilepsy, support services, and advocacy. For more information, write or call the Foundation at 386 Main Street, Middletown, CT  06457.   Telephone: (860) 346-1924 or (800) 899-3745 Website: E-mail

FAVOR is a family advocacy organization for children’s mental health.  The family advocates work within a network of family members, parent organizations and other advocates who provide a variety of multicultural and educational opportunities and resources.  They work together to improve services and support for children and families through individual advocacy system change and legislative agendas.  FAVOR, Inc., 185 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield, CT  06109-1219. FAVOR can be reached at (860) 563-3232.  Website:

HISPANIC HEALTH COUNCIL is committed to improving the health and social well-being of Puerto Rican/Latinos and other underserved communities through community-based research, direct services, training and advocacy. For more information, call or write the Hispanic Health Council at 175 Main Street, Hartford, CT  06106. Telephone: (860) 527-0856. Website:

HOUSING EDUCATION RECOURSE CENTER (HERC) provides a variety of services including a Foreclosure Prevention Counseling Program, tenant/landlord counseling and information regarding a wide variety of housing topics. HERC, 901 Wethersfield Ave., Hartford, CT 06114, Telephone: (860) 296-4372. Website:


INFOLINE 211 is a free, help-by telephone service for information, referral, and crisis intervention that is easily accessed from anywhere in Connecticut by dialing 2-1-1.  Trained professionals help callers find information, discover options, or deal with a crisis by locating hundreds of services in their community on many different issues including those of interest to persons with disabilities.
For example, Infoline offers information and referral about disability counseling and support groups, assistive technology purchase and repair, in-home and respite care, case management services, developmental assessments, legal/advocacy/disability rights groups, home modification and barrier removal, and supportive living and employment programs. 

Infoline operates 24 hours a day, has multilingual caseworkers on staff, and is TTY accessible.  Infoline is a service of the United Way and the State of Connecticut.  Telephone:  211 (Voice/TTY) or (800) 203-1234 (toll-free Voice/TTY). Website:


JOBS ACCOMODATION NETWORK (JAN) provides free assistance with disability employment issues and accommodations. They also provide guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation as well as self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities. Telephone: (Voice) 800-526-7234, (TTY) 877-781-9403.  Website:


MASHANTUCKET PEQUOT TRIBAL NATION VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICES (MPTN-VR) provides culturally sensitive Vocational Rehabilitation services to state or federally recognized Native Americans with disabilities residing in Connecticut and Rhode Island in order to assist them to prepare for, find or maintain appropriate employment.  Traditional Native American services are provided in coordination with the vocational rehabilitation services. Traditional services include, but are not limited to: Sweat Lodge, Smudging, Talking Circle, Prayer, Social Events, and Traditional Lifestyle.  For further information contact: Vocational Rehabilitation Program Tribal Health Services; P.O. Box 3310; Mashantucket, CT 06338-3310; Office: (860) 396-2281; Toll-Free: (860) 399-1122; Fax: (860) 396-2282.

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF THE MENTALLY ILL OF CONNECTICUT, INC. (NAMI-CT) is a statewide organization for the families, friends and individuals living with serious mental illness. NAMI provides support, education, information and advocacy. For more information, please call (860) 882-0236 or 1 (800) 215-3021.  NAMI is located at 241 Main Street, 5th Floor, Hartford, CT 06106. Website:  

NATIONAL MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY – CONNECTICUT CHAPTER is committed to empowering people with multiple sclerosis to live as independently as possible to the maximum of their capabilities within the least restrictive environment.  The M.S. Society is a non-profit organization supporting research that examines the cause, prevention and treatment of MS, as well as the quality and scope of health services for people with M.S. For information, contact the Connecticut Chapter, 659 Tower Avenue, First Floor, Hartford, CT  06112. Telephone (860) 913-2550.  Website:

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION ON FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME (NOFAS) is dedicated to eliminating birth defects caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy and to improving the quality of life for individuals and families. NOFAS Telephone number: 1 (800) 66-NOFAS.  Website:

NATIONAL SPINAL CORD INJURY ASSOCIATION–CONNECTICUT CHAPTER members work with local agencies to develop better programs and services for people with spinal cord injuries and act as community advocates for improved access, housing, transportation, employment and leisure time activities for individuals with disabilities. Peer support and other services are also provided. For more information on the Connecticut Chapter, call (203) 284-2910. Website:

NEW ENGLAND ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY CENTER (NEAT) is a demonstration and an equipment restoration center.  It is a place to learn about products and equipment that assist people with day to day activities they have trouble doing themselves, either because of disability or age.  The public may also donate or purchase equipment.  NEAT also offers workshops on various assistive technology topics.  Contact NEAT at 120 Holcomb Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06112.  Telephone:  (860) 243-2869 or toll-free at (866) 526-4492 (Voice), (860) 286-3113 (TTY/Voice).  Website:

NONVERBAL LEARNING DISORDERS ASSOCIATION (NLDA) is an international non-profit corporation committed to facilitating education, research and advocacy for children and adults who have disabilities associated with nonverbal learning disorders.  Contact NLDA at 507 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury 06070.  Telephone:  (860) 658-5522.

PADRES ABRIENDO PUERTAS or Parents Opening Doors (PAP) is the only community-based organization in the State of Connecticut solely devoted to opening doors of opportunity to Latino children by guaranteeing access to quality education and mental health services. They foster the human, civil and educational rights and total community inclusion of Latino children with developmental disabilities and mental health issues. The PAP Office is located at 60 B Weston Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06120.  For more information, call (860) 297-4391 (Voice) or (860) 297-4380 (TTY). 


PROPERTY TAX ABATEMENT - Individuals with disabilities may qualify for reduced property taxes through their town. Contact your town's tax office to find out what is available in your area.

SALVATION ARMY offers many services at various centers throughout Connecticut. The services include Family Shelter, The Right Place School Readiness & Family Resources Center, Food and Clothing Bank, Adult Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center, Grandparents’ Support Groups, Young Parents Program, Girls, Inc., Food for Life Pantries, Senior Center, Camp CONNRI, CONNRI Lodge Retreat & Conference Center, Homeless Prevention Program, and After School Programs.  The Salvation Army runs thrift stores, soup kitchens, feeding and nutrition programs and other services.  Divisional Office:  855 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, CT.  Telephone: (860) 702-0000.

Legal Assistance

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF CONNECTICUT (ACLU-CT) is a non-partisan, non-profit membership organization whose mission is to assure that the Bill of Rights and the rights guaranteed by the Connecticut Constitution are preserved for each new generation. The ACLU-CT accomplishes these goals through legislative advocacy, litigation, grassroots organizing and public education on a broad array of issues affecting our liberties. The ACLU-CT is one of 53 affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union nationwide.  They can be contacted at: 330 Main Street, First Floor, Hartford, Connecticut  06106. Telephone: (860) 523-9146. Website:

CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT SCHOOL OF LAW is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of the legal rights of poor children who are dependent on a variety of Connecticut systems – Judicial, Child Welfare, Health, Mental Health, Education and Juvenile Justice.  Based at the University of Connecticut School of Law, the Center’s twin missions are to provide holistic legal services to children in their communities and to improve quality of legal representation of children through interdisciplinary models and training programs.  They are located at:  65 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06105. (860) 570-5327 Website:

CHILDREN’S LAW CENTER OF CONNECTICUT, Inc. (CLC) is a non-profit agency that provides indigent children with experienced lawyers who give them a Voice in family court. CLC also provides information in legal matters involving children, and advocates in support of legislative policies that advance the well-being and best interests of children. The Center is located at:  30 Arbor Street, Fourth Floor North Building, Hartford, CT 06106.Telephone: (860) 232-9993; (888) 529-3667.  Website:

CONNECTICUT LEGAL RIGHTS PROJECT (CLRP) is an independent, non-profit agency that advocates for low-income adults who have or are perceived to have a psychiatric disability. CLRP’s attorneys and legal advocates provide services ranging from brief advice to full legal representation with legal problems related to: services and/or treatment from mental health or other providers, enforcement of rights guaranteed by State or Federal law such as due process, non-discrimination, and informed consent, administrative and judicial procedures such as grievances, conservatorships, commitments, and medication hearings. For more information call: 1-877-402-2299 (V/TTY) TTY (860) 262-5066. Website:  

CONNECTICUT WOMEN’S EDUCATION AND LEGAL FUND (CWEALF) is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women, girls and their families to achieve equal opportunities in their personal and professional lives.  Since 1973, CWEALF has utilized legal and public policy strategies and provided community education to promote gender equity and end sex discrimination at individual and societal levels. They can be reached at: One Hartford Square West, Suite 1-300 Hartford, CT 06106 telephone:  (860) 247-6090, Fax (860) 524-0705


LAWYER REFERRAL SERVICES, a project of the Connecticut Bar Association, can suggest a private attorney who, for a nominal consultation fee, will assess a case and provide an estimate of charges.  Website:   Area Offices are listed below: 
Fairfield: (203) 335-4116        

Hartford: (860) 525-6052   

New London: (860) 889-9384
New Haven: (203) 562-5750 

UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT SCHOOL OF LAW LEGAL CLINIC represents indigent individuals in criminal matters, asylum, human rights, mediation, intellectual property and tax.  The office is located at 45 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06105 Telephone:  (860) 570-5165. Website:


YALE UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL CLINIC links law students with individuals in need of legal help who cannot afford private attorneys.  Yale Law School, P.O. Box 209090, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8215.  Telephone:  (203) 432-4800. Website:

Support Groups and Other Useful Resources

American Diabetes Association

2080 Silas Deane Highway; 2nd Floor; Rocky Hill, CT  06067

Telephone: (203) 639-0385   
Website: for local contact.

Arthritis Foundation Connecticut Office
35 Cold Springs Road – Suite 411, Rocky Hill, Connecticut 06067
Telephone:  (860) 563-1177 or toll-free (800) 541-8350. 

Connecticut Association of Centers for Independent Living (CACIL) 
151 New Park Avenue, Hartford CT 06106
Telephone: (860) 656-0430 or (800) 261-3769


Connecticut Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT)
P.O. Box 370352, West Hartford, Connecticut 06137-0382
Telephone: (860) 571-3888 

Connecticut Family Voices - PATH Parent to Parent of CT

Parents Available to Help, Inc.; P.O. Box 117; Northford, CT  06472. Telephone: 1 (800) 399-PATH (toll-free CT only) Website:

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation CT Chapter - 101 Centerpoint Drive; Suite 107; Middletown, CT  06457; Telephone: (860) 632-7300 Website:

Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDRF) Website: for local chapter.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society  (LLS)

LLS Connecticut Chapter - Main Office
372 Danbury Road, Suite 200
Wilton, CT  06897
(203) 665-1400


Muscular Dystrophy Association 
148 Eastern Boulevard

Glastonbury, Connecticut 06033
Telephone: (860) 633-4466

 National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut 
477 Connecticut Blvd, Suite 217, East Hartford, CT 06108
Telephone: (860) 289-1971 

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) 
55 Kenosia Avenue, Danbury, Connecticut 06813
Telephone: Toll free: (800) 999-6673 (Voicemail only) TTY Number: (203) 797-9590


Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA) 
Telephone: (800) 926-4797 

Tourette Syndrome Association (national) 
Telephone: (718) 224-2999; 

United Cerebral Palsy Association