In Nebraska, children three years of age and older who need significant modifications in their educational programs may be eligible for special-education services through their school district. These five steps can help you get started in finding information about the special-education process in Nebraska and making the contacts you'll need.
1. Familiarize yourself with the special-education process in Nebraska with resources on the Nebraska Department of Education site, including a document on policies and procedures and a copy of special-education law. The site for PTI Nebraska, a parent training and advocacy organization, also has many useful resources on special education, including "Setting Goals ... Achieving Results," an index to Rule 51, and "Tips for the IEP Meeting."
2. In Nebraska, the process of referring a child from birth through high school for special services is called Child Find. Schools have the responsibility to identify students in need of special-education services, and parents can initiate that process by requesting a referral form from the school, filling it out, and giving it to the child's teacher or principal. If your child is not yet in school and you're not sure who to contact, you can use the database of school-district contact information on the Nebraska Department of Education site, call your district, and ask for information about special services. You can also contact Nebraska Child Find directly; scroll down to the bottom of the site's referral page for contact information for school-age children. If the school is initiating the referral, you'll be asked to sign a "Prior Written Notice for Initial Evaluation" form.
3. After the referral is made, your child will be evaluated to determine whether he or she is eligible for special-education services. Download a copy of the "Procedural Safeguards Notice: Parents' Rights in Special Education" to understand your rights throughout the process.
4. If your child is found eligible for special-education services, the school will plan an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child. Learn more about IEPs and other special-education terms and offerings from the Special-Education FAQ on this About.com site. Wondering what an IEP looks like? Download a sample form from the Department of Education site.
5. During the evaluation and IEP process, and throughout your child's educational career, take advantage of the assistance offered by PTI Nebraska, which provides support and workshops for families of children with special needs. You can view the organization's webinars and videos online, or contact staff members for one-on-one assistance.