Guest Author - Jeanetta Polenske
Since 2009, the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies and Delaware Family Voices have partnered to publish a comprehensive guide to services for those with disabilities and special needs in the state of Delaware. The intent of the project is to help Delaware families find resources and needed services and to direct their way through the system.
The booklet also has a more personal purpose. It means to pull individuals together to share their experiences and support each other to achieve the highest possible outcome. The focus is not on diagnosis, but rather on the person and the goals that each wishes to accomplish.
The publication is very well organized. It progresses slowly and purposely through getting started and how, why and when to contact the many resources. In addition, a glossary with medical terminology and list of agency acronyms is listed. Included are a number of stories that families have shared about their experiences. The guide is supportive and encouraging.
For example, just needing to know where to begin can be daunting. The booklet suggests who to call, what questions you will need to ask and what information the various entities will need from you. It reviews types of insurance. It leads you through the first visit with your primary care physician and the referral process to meet with specialists.
The list of resources is sizable, but it is admittedly not all-inclusive. Still it lists services from the Department of Education, advocacy agencies, social services, safety, technology, transportation, hospitals and legal services. Perhaps your needs are for financial resources, caregiving support, therapy, homecare or you are a military family.
There are complete addresses, phone numbers and websites for all the different agencies, making it virtually a one-stop source of information covering nearly every possible area of need. It is a remarkable and thorough piece of work.
To obtain a copy, please contact the Center for Disabilities Studies, University of Delaware at 302-831-6974 or Delaware Family Voices at 302-221-5360. Online copies are available at www.udel.edu/cds and