In North Carolina, 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 North Carolina and making the contacts you'll need.
1. Familiarize yourself with the special-education process in North Carolina by reading "Policies Governing Services for Children With Disabilities" by the state Board of Education and "http://www.wcpss.net/what-we-teach/services/handbooks/special-ed-supplement_handbook_2013-2014.pdf," which provides an example of how special education is handled in the Wake County Public School System. On the Exceptional Children Assistance Center (ECAC) site, you can download an IEP Checklist and read "IEP Tips and Tools," as well as download "The Basic Special Education Process under IDEA 2004" from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.
2. In North Carolina, the process of referring a child from birth through high school for special services is called Project Child Find. Schools have the responsibility to identify students in need of special-education services, and you can download a brochure from the North Carolina Public Schools site with information on how to refer your child and who to contact. To find out the contact person in your school district for special education, download a listing of school-district websites from the Public Schools site, visit the site for your district, and look for information about Exceptional Children or district contact information.
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 "Procedural Safeguards" 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 blank form from the Pubic Schools site.
5. During the evaluation and IEP process, and throughout your child's educational career, take advantage of the assistance offered by the Exceptional Children's Assistance Center, a parent advocacy organization that offers support and workshops for families of children with special needs. In addition to the resources online, you can call or e-mail to ask questions and get information for your specific situation.