Families are essential partners with teachers in supporting their child’s educational progress. This is especially true for families of students with disabilities. This page offers resources for you as a family member as you navigate the educational process for students with disabilities. 

Does my child need an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

Help Understanding the Special Education Process

Evaluation Roadmap for Families with Children Ages 3 - 21 – Navigating whether your child may need additional supports or even an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be difficult. This resource shows the pathway you may take as a parent if you have concerns about your child’s learning.

Screenshot of the Evaluation Roadmap. Click the image to open the PDF.

The evaluation roadmap is also available in these other languages:

Who can I talk to for one-on-one assistance?

Agencies in Ohio that provide direct help to families of students with disabilities

  • Parent Mentors - Parent Mentors are parents of a child with a disability who are employed by a local education agency or educational service center to help families and school districts by providing support, information and training services.
  • Early Intervention - This is Ohio’s statewide system that provides coordinated services to parents of eligible children under the age of 3 with developmental delays or disabilities.
  • The Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD) - This nonprofit agency is Ohio’s Parent Training and Information Center, serving families of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities in Ohio, educators and agencies who provide services to them.

Charting the LifeCourse

Applications are now available for the 3rd cohort of the Charting the LifeCourse Ambassador Training Series! The Office for Exceptional Children is accepting applications from Parent Mentors, State Support Team consultants and Ohio educators to participate in a training series and community of practice on Charting the LifeCourse (known as CtLC). The Charting the LifeCourse framework was created to help individuals and families of all abilities and all ages develop a vision for a good life, think about what they need to know and do, identify how to find or develop supports, and discover what it takes to live the lives they want to live. The application contains information about the specifics of this training series, requirements to apply, and expectations for participation. Applications are due by August 1, 2024. Any questions may be directed to Sarah.Brooks@education.ohio.gov and Lyndsay.Havey@education.ohio.gov.

The Charting the LifeCourse framework was developed by families to help individuals with disabilities and families at any age or stage of life develop a vision for a good life, think about what they need to know and do, identify how to find or develop supports, and discover what it takes to live the lives they want to live. In Ohio, families and agencies began using Charting the LifeCourse in 2017 and began creating a vision for supported families. The Ohio Department of Education Office for Exceptional Children has joined as a partner in this work by training and supporting 96 Charting the LifeCourse ambassadors across the state, building internal capacity within the Department of Education, and intentionally making connections across agencies, organizations and
spaces to support families in utilizing this framework and tools to create their good life.
If you are interested in learning more about Charting the LifeCourse, the Family Resource Network of Ohio offers more information and many different types of training for individuals, families and professionals. You can also directly request training through the Family Resource Network of Ohio. 

Assessment Resources

  • Assessment Toolkit for Parents: Assessment is a term educators use when describing many of the ways they learn about your child’s educational progress. This site shares information and resources over each of Ohio’s state tests and a variety of other types of tests. 
  • Alternate Assessment One-Page Flyer: The Department developed this new family resource in January of 2022 to serve as a companion to the Frequently Asked Questions created to describe the Alternate Assessment for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities.

Secondary Transitions

Secondary Transition Roadmap

The Secondary Transition Roadmap is an interactive tool may be used by families of children with disabilities ages 3-21 to identify crucial points of the secondary transition process. The tool also includes key websites and resources to help families and their children prepare for life after high school.

screenshot of the first page of the document Secondary Transition Roadmap

The evaluation roadmap is also available in these other languages:

Additional resources for secondary transition and workforce development are also available on the Department's website.

Additional Resources

Getting Started 

  • 11 District Plan – On March 2, 2020, the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, approved a settlement agreement which requires the Ohio Department of Education to provide additional supports to 11 specified school districts. This document provides additional information about the contents of the settlement agreement and why it is important for families.
  • Annual Special Education Family Survey - To meet the requirements of IDEA, the Office for Exceptional Children (OEC) works with The Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center to administer the Annual Special Education Family Survey to a group of districts every year, designed to assist in understanding parents and caregivers’ perceptions related to their involvement in their children’s educations. This report includes key findings, results, and recommendations from the survey responses.
  • Getting Involved with your Child’s Learning - Learn by age group about what children are expected to know and be able to do, how they are tested and how to assist them at home. This page also includes Ohio resources for college and career planning and planning tools and tutoring resources.
  • OCALI Family and Community Outreach Center – This site offers online tools, connects families to information and resources, and raises awareness and acceptance. 
  • Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center at The Ohio State University – This site provides ideas and resources based on your child’s age to help families develop positive and engaging relationships with school leaders.  

Early Childhood and Preschool

  • BOLD Beginning! - Find information and resources here for Ohio families, caretakers, teachers, and childcare providers to access all things related to early childhood in Ohio’s state agencies. 
  • Early Care & Education Search Tool - This tool helps to locate the type of early care and education program that meets a child/family’s needs. 
  • Head Start - Head Start is a federally funded school readiness program for children prenatal to age 5. Head Start provides services to eligible children and families in the areas of early learning, health, and family well-being, while engaging parents and guardians as partners, every step of the way. Head Start includes preschool programs that serve children 3 – 5 years old, and Early Head Start programs for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women. 
  • Preschool Special Education - In Ohio, preschool special education is for three- to five-year old children with disabilities. The Office of Early Learning and School Readiness aims for families, preschool staff, and the community to work together to meet the needs of young children with disabilities. To meet individual children’s needs, districts offer a variety of preschool special education services. Children with disabilities may receive services in public schools, private preschools, or child care centers.


  • Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library – This initiative promotes early childhood literacy by partnering with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library aims to put more books in the hands of Ohio’s children to ensure that every student enters kindergarten ready to succeed. Families can enroll their child in this program for free. Each enrolled child receives a free book monthly by mail from birth to age 5.
  • Reading Tips for Families – This page provides ideas for families to learn more about reading, along with tips and activities to help children become successful readers.