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The Challenges of Obtaining Services for Children with Special Needs During the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Published August 21, 2020
Studies show that approximately 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs before the age of five. For children with learning disabilities or other special needs, these early years are crucial. Early intervention, sometimes even before a child has a diagnosis, can be extremely effective. As one special education expert explained, “If you miss that critical window of opportunity, when delays or issues can be addressed, then it becomes more difficult and more expensive to intervene later on.”
Historically, daycare, preschool and kindergarten have been one of the primary ways that children who may have special learning needs are identified. Often a teacher notices that a child is struggling while learning in a group of other children. The teacher informs the child’s parents, who then can seek out the appropriate services and support. Parents can easily miss these cues in their own children, as they may not have the knowledge and experience necessary to identify possible issues and often lack the ability to see their child learn side-by-side with other children.
Given the new norm of social distancing and distance learning, schools and many daycare facilities are closed, or operating with limited hours. Consequently, a significant avenue of detection and referral has dried up. In recent months, many special education experts raised concerns that the number of children referred for special education services will decrease, leaving many children without crucial support. Compounding these concerns is the fact that many parents hesitate to take their children to the doctor’s – the second major source of special education referrals – given concerns surrounding COVID-19.
For those children who were receiving special education support before the pandemic struck, many services have been eliminated or reduced. While some support centers provide some level of online services, not all services can be appropriately delivered online. Thus, many support centers are seeing business dry up. According to a recent news report, many disability service providers are on the brink of collapse, given the recent reduction in children obtaining services.
The importance of early intervention is undisputed. Typically, a child’s school is the primary source of referral. However, with schools closed, this puts additional pressure on parents. However, federal law requires schools to provide students with an appropriate education, even in times like these. Thus, schools have an obligation to identify and refer students who have special needs.
Parents who are concerned that their children are not receiving the education they need to thrive should consider reaching out to a special education attorney for immediate assistance.
The dedicated team of special needs advocates at Littman Krooks, LLP has a comprehensive understanding of the educational requirements as they pertain to students with special needs, and use this knowledge to ensure that every student gets the education they need and deserve. Littman Krooks has been helping New York families for over 30 years. The knowledgeable attorneys at Littman Krooks can be reached 914-684-2100. You can also contact them at https://www.littmankrooks.com/.
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