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All parents can positively impact their children’s learning and healthy development, and when families, schools and communities partner together, schools thrive and students benefit. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to navigate the educational system and know how to best work with district and school personnel. Often times, parents of students with disabilities face additional challenges. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has developed some web pages and resources specifically for parents of students with disabilities.

A good starting place for parents of students with disabilities

Need Additional Information or Support?

 Advocacy

If you have a child with a disability, you may decide to hire a paraprofessional or a "lay advocate” to assist you in ensuring that your child's educational needs are met. These advocates, who are not attorneys, may be able to assist with consultation, letter writing, or meetings with schools.

 Attorneys

For certain circumstances, a parent may prefer to hire an attorney for assistance.

 Community and Residential Services Authority

The Community and Residential Services Authority (CRSA) is an interagency group created by the General Assembly in 1985. The CRSA is responsible for identifying and addressing barriers facing parents, professionals, and providers when they try to get needed services and programs for individuals with a behavior disorder or a severe emotional disturbance and their family.

The CRSA staff provide technical assistance to families, service providers, educators, and other professionals to help plan for and implement appropriate, effective services for children with severe emotional disturbances and behavior disorders (SED/BD) in Illinois. A brochure of additional information is presently available in CRSA brochure in EnglishPDF Document and CRSA brochure in SpanishPDF Document.

CRSA may be contacted by telephone toll-free at (877) 541-2772 or via the web at crsa.illinois.gov.​​​

 Conflict Resolution

  • Early resolution is an informal means for districts and parents to resolve complaints at the local level. It is not uncommon for disagreements to occur between parents and school districts regarding a child's special education services.

    Those disagreements can often be resolved at the local level with open communication between the parties. The process of resolving disagreements at the local level can be a quick alternative to using a state-sponsored dispute resolution system, and can have the added benefit of improving communication between both parties in the future.

    If an individual believes that a school district has not complied with the law or that a child's educational rights as been violated, the individual should try to resolve the issues with the local school district, through the following steps:

    • Communicating directly with the school staff, principal, superintendent, or director of the special education cooperative.
    • Requesting an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting to discuss the issues with the IEP team.
    • Utilizing the state-sponsored mediation system to resolve the areas of concern. Additional information about mediation may be found on the mediation page.

    Parents seeking guidance on how to resolve disputes at the local level may contact the Special Education Services Department ​of the Illinois State Board of Education at 217/782-5589, or through the agency's toll-free parent line at 866/262-6663 and ask to speak to a consultant

  • Directors of Special EducationPDF Document
  • Mediation Services
    Illinois' mediation service is designed as a means of resolving disagreements regarding special education services, placement and related services to children enrolled in Illinois public schools.
  • Complaints
    A complaint investigation is a formal process where a person submits a signed, written complaint alleging that the school district has violated one or more of the special education rules and regulations
  • Chapter 11: Conflict Resolution
  • Capítulo 11: Resolución de conflictos
  • Webinar for Parents: Special Education Dispute Resolution Options

 Parent Training and Information Centers

​Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) are authorized in Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and are funded by the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Each PTI is mandated to assist parents to:

  1. better understand the nature of their children's disabilities and their educational and developmental needs;
  2. communicate effectively with personnel responsible for providing special education, early intervention, and related services;
  3. participate in decision making processes and the development of individualized education programs (IEPs) under Part B and individualized family service plans under Part C;
  4. obtain appropriate information about the range of options, programs, services, and resources available to assist children with disabilities and their families;
  5. understand the provision of IDEA for the education of, and the provision of early intervention services to, children with disabilities; and
  6. participate in school reform activities.

Illinois is divided into two regions:

Region 1 includes the following counties: Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will


Family Resource Center on Disabilities
11 E. Adams St. , Suite 1002
Chicago, IL 60603
312-939-3513 voice / 312-939-3519 TTY & TDY
312-939-7297 FAX
800-952-4199 IL only
E​mail: info@frcd.org
Website: www.frcd.org

Region 2 includes the remainder of the state

Family Matters
1901 S. 4th Street, Suite 209
Effingham, IL 62401
217-347-5428 voice
217-347-5119 FAX
866-436-7842 Toll-Free
E​mail: info@fmptic.org or deinhorn@arc-css.org​
Website: www.fmptic.org​​​

 Post-Secondary Transition

  • ​Chapter 8: Secondary Transition
  • ​Capítulo 8: Transición de la secundaria
  • Understanding PUNS: A Guide to Prioritization for Urgency of Need for Services
    The Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities, develops and array of supports for adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Possible services include in-home supports, respite care, training programs, job coaches, residential living arrangements, adaptive equipment, etc. Funding is limited and prioritized based on need for services. It is critically important for families to register their son/daughter for PUNS (the ‘doorway’ for these services) well before he/she transitions from school to adult life.
  • Comprensión de PUNS: una guía para priorizar la urgencia de la necesidad de servicios
    La División Discapacidades del Desarrollo del Departamento de Servicios Humanos de Illinois proporciona liderazgo para la administración efectiva del diseño y la prestación de los servicios basados en los resultados de calidad, centrados en la persona y apoyos para los que tienen discapacidades del desarrollo. Estos servicios y apoyos se acomodarán a sus necesidades, dones, talentos y fortalezas; serán accesibles, abarcarán toda la vida; estarán basados en una selección informada y serán monitoreados para asegurar el progreso individual, la calidad de vida y seguridad.​
  • The Autism Training and Technical Assistance Project (ATTA) develops resources that assist individuals with Autism in their transition from secondary education to postsecondary education or employment. The ATTA also seeks to provide training and support to important stakeholders, as they work to provide an equitable experience for individuals with autism. The website and the resources it contains are developed pursuant to and funded 100% through a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education. The website is maintained and updated by the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support.​​​​

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