Resource Fair for Special Education

By Sandra Zunino

Helping your child face the transition from high school to the next phase of his or her education is daunting enough. When that child has disabilities, the task is even more complicated. Fortunately, Partners for Success from the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education is hosting a Resource Fair to give folks the information they need to take on this challenge.

Operating under the Maryland State Board of Education, each county is required to provide family support for children with disabilities. For Queen Anne’s County, that entity is Partners for Success, according to Family Navigator Jennifer Doege.

While each county operates a little differently, they all work together to share information about resources. This is the fourth year for the event. Dorchester County was the first to host a Resource Fair, with Talbot, then Caroline subsequently following.

“This is the first year Queen Anne’s County is hosting the event,” says Jennifer. Participants are expected from Dorchester, Talbot, Caroline and Kent counties. This will be the first year for Kent County to join in.

The Resource Fair will take place on Wednesday, March 11 at Chesapeake College in the lobby of the Todd Performing Arts Building from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“This is an opportunity for students with disabilities and their families to meet with representatives from various agencies and regional programs, sheltered workshops, trade schools, community colleges and more,” says Jennifer. The event is free to participants and includes dinner.

Vendors from 40 different resources are expected to provide information. Special Olympics, Developmental Disabilities Agencies from each county, The Benedictine School, The Chesapeake Center, The Caroline Center and Chesterwye are just a few resources that will have representative available to answer questions.

Additionally, representative from various colleges will be there including Chesapeake Community College and Salisbury University to discuss how the colleges can assist a student with special needs. In fact, every college or university is required to have a coordinator of students with disabilities support services, according to Lisa Sheehan, Family Support Coordinator, Talbot County Public School.

“We are also having a representative who handles estate planning for parents of a child with disabilities,” says Jennifer. Dave Rosenthal from Ameriprise Financial will discuss this topic from the unique perspective of having a family member with significant developmental disabilities.

Because laws are changing rapidly and individuals must not have more than $3,000 in their name to qualify for many free services, it is imperative to proceed carefully with estate planning, according to Jennifer.

While invitations were sent out to parents of children 14 and over with disabilities who have an established Individualized Educational Program (IEP) in place, anyone is invited to attend who might find the services of use.

“We are expecting about 100 people with families coming from all five counties,” says Jennifer. While many participants have sent in RSVP’s, you do not need to RSVP in advance to attend.

For more information, call Jennifer at Partners for Success, Queen Anne’s County Board of Education, 410-758-3693.