Services for Children with Special Needs
Families with children who are at risk for developmental delays or have disabilities and/or special healthcare needs can use the following programs to find referrals to statewide services, such as advocacy, education, training, resources and information, in addition to special services available in local communities.
- The Florida Early Steps Directory provides statewide information and resources parents or caregivers of children with diagnosed or suspected developmental delays or disabilities from birth to 3. Contact the Florida Early Steps Directory at 1-800-218-0001.
- The Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources Systems (FDLRS) provides diagnostic, instructional and technology support services for families or students with disabilities. Visit their website to locate your local FDLRS office or contact the FDLRS Administration Office at 1-386-312-2265.
The Gardiner Scholarship Program
The Gardiner Scholarship Program is a unique program for children ages 3 to 22 with special needs. The scholarship allows parents to personalize their children's education by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers. Children enrolled in this program are not eligible for VPK.
Voluntary Prekindergarten Specialized Instructional Services Education Program
Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Specialized Instructional Services educational program is an option for parents of 4-year-old children with special needs that is available outside the traditional VPK classroom setting. If your child has a current individual educational plan from your local school district that calls for specialized instructional services, you can choose VPK Specialized Instructional Services instead of traditional VPK school-year or summer programs.
For more information, please contact your local early learning coalition.
Inclusion Warm Line Services
The state has a toll-free number to provide assistance and consultation about including children with disabilities and special health care needs. Known as the Warm Line, the service is available to early care and education providers requesting information relating to disability and special health care needs of children.
Each early learning coalition provides warm line services for child care providers on topics including:
- Positive behavioral support
- Child development
- Environmental adaptations
- Laws and regulations (e.g., The Americans with Disabilities Act)
To locate a Warm Line in your area, contact your early learning coalition or refer to this list. For additional information on Inclusion/Warm Line services, please call toll-free 1-866-357-3239.
Read the joint position statement on inclusion issued by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Division of Early Childhood.