Children with Special Needs
Children come with many types of health and developmental needs. All early care and education centers are expected to make every effort to accommodate children with special needs. There are many resources available to support families in finding quality care and education programs, to support teachers and caregivers including a child with special needs, and to link children who have or may have a disability with intervention services.
Looking for a child care and education program?
Click here for general tips on finding quality care.
Children’s Home Society
If your child has special needs, you can find information about child care programs that can best meet his or her needs by calling Children’s Home Society at (714) 456-9800.
Inclusive Childcare Program Listing
The Inclusion Collaborative, a subcommittee of the Orange County Child Care and Development Planning Council, maintains a list of programs that have identified themselves as welcoming children with special needs. Providers are able to join the list or be removed at their own request, so this list is not an endorsement of the quality of the care provider, but rather a centralized list offered as a convenience to parents. Parents will need to visit and evaluate each center as to its appropriateness for their own child.
Does your child have a disability?
Comfort Connection Family Resource Center
The Comfort Connection Family Resource Center at Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC) connects families who have children with special needs and disabilities to resources and support. Most of Comfort Connection’s staff are parents of children with developmental disabilities, and many are bilingual. CCFRC provides developmental surveillance to eligible children at high risk of delay or disability. Contact CCFRC at (714) 558-5400 or toll free at (888) 372-2229 (888-FRC-BABY). On the web:
Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC )
For families of children birth to 36 months, RCOC provides free evaluations when parents have a concern about their child’s development. Anyone can call and make a referral. RCOC provides an array of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with qualifying developmental delays or established risk conditions, working in coordination with other programs and services, including your local school district. Some children may continue to receive RCOC services beyond 36 months of age and into adulthood when the disabling condition seriously impacts activities of daily living. Contact the Regional Center of Orange County at (714) 796-5100. To make a referral, call (714) 796-5254.
Your Local Public School District
Your school district can provide free developmental assessment in suspected areas of delay upon parent request for children ages 3 years and older. Children who qualify for special education may receive specialized services based upon their educational needs. For children younger than 3 years, school districts coordinate early intervention services with the Regional Center Early Start Program. Find a link to your local school district at:
www.ocde.us. If you need help finding your district, go to
Center for Autism and Neurological Disorders of Southern California
The Center for Autism and Neurological Disorders of Southern California provides identification, intervention, and clinical care for children with autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and other neurological disorders. If you think your child is exhibiting symptoms of a neurological disorder and you would like an evaluation or assistance, call (888) 962-5437 (714) 939-6118 or email
Are you uncertain or don't know where to start?
Call Help Me Grow Orange County
All Orange County families with young children can access this free program that provides care coordination and connection to programs and services. If you need help navigating the developmental services system in Orange County or want to learn more about available services, contact Help Me Grow at 1-866-GROW-025 (1-866-476-9025) or visit
www.helpmegrowoc.org. The Help Me Grow team will listen to your questions and concerns and connect you to services that fit your child’s needs.
Other resources for parents and professionals
California Department of Education: Reasons for Concern brochure and information:
Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR): Clearinghouse for a wide array of disability resources for families and professionals (many available in Spanish).
The National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI) is working to ensure that early childhood teachers are prepared to educate and care for young children with disabilities in settings with their typically developing peers.
- The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs to improve and support the capacity of state systems and local programs to implement an early childhood multi-tiered system of support to improve the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of young children with, and at risk for, developmental disabilities or delays. https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/
Cerebral Palsy Group is an online resource for anyone who has been affected by cerebral palsy, birth injuries, or brain injury. https://cerebralpalsygroup.com/cerebral-palsy
The California Early Start Program: Learn about early intervention services provided for eligible infants and toddlers ages birth to 36 months.
NECTAC Quality Indicators of Inclusive Early Childhood Programs/Practices: Compilation of Selected Resources.
CARA’s Kit (Creating Adaptations for Routines and Activities) provides guidance for how to make adaptations for daily activities and routines so that children with disabilities and other special needs can successfully participate in all classroom activities. Developed by the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children.