Where to start

When a loved one has been diagnosed with a disability

When your loved one is diagnosed with a developmental disability, you may feel a range of emotions, including fear, doubt, uncertainty, powerlessness and more. 

While embarking on this new path, we encourage you to contact us. We are happy to connect you with other families who are traveling the same path as you are, link you with area resources and share in the achievements of your loved one.


Where do I start?

If your loved one has been diagnosed with a developmental disability before the age of three, please contact your local Infant-Toddler connection. This is known as an early intervention agency. They can assist with identifying services that may be beneficial for your loved one. Begin learning about special education, community services in your area and the Medicaid waiver system.

My school-aged child was diagnosed with a developmental disability.

If your school-aged child has been diagnosed with a developmental disability, please work with your education team on linking with community-based services. We are happy to assist as well! Learn about special education services, community-based resources and Medicaid waivers.

My child needs help/therapies/treatment. Where do I start?

We are glad you asked! We strive to be the community's first stop for information on available services! Please call us and describe the services you are looking for. We have intimate knowledge of the waiver system, speech, occupational, physical therapy and behavioral treatment services.

My loved on is experiencing a crisis. How can I help them?

If your loved one is experiencing a crisis, please call 9-1-1. You can ask for a crisis response officer to be dispatched. A crisis response officer has specialized training in responding to those with mental heath and developmental disabilities.

There are times that it may be necessary to take your loved one to the hospital for an evaluation to ensure his or her safety. Once at the hospital, staff may contact the local community services board to evaluate if the person is a threat to himself or others. If the answer is yes, the staff will begin searching for a hospital bed. Please be aware that many times this will take place out of the area, as there are few children's crisis hospitalization options available.

My loved on is transitioning from middle school. What do I need to know?

Again, please be sure you know about Medicaid waivers! Most services your loved one will need after graduation are funded by the waiver system, and, unfortunately, the wait list to access these services can be over 15 years. Be sure you are discussing transition plans as soon as your child turns 14. Talk with your loved one about what they would like to do once their high school career is over. While it may change several times, it is important to start the conversations early.

My loved one is graduating. What happens next?

By this time, we hope your child has a Medicaid waiver. This will pay for job coaching, day support programs, residential care and other services. Be sure to talk service providers about the unique goals of your loved one. Talk with several providers until you find the best fit.

Early Intervention

Infant-Toddler Connection of the Shenandoah Valley

The Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia provides supports and services for babies and their families who are suspected of having a developmental delay so that families can help their child learn during everyday activities and routines.

Contact: Gina Zydelis, Central Point of Entry for Winchester, Frederick, Clarke & Shenandoah

Phone: 540-635-2452 x27


New Path

New Path is a support program for families in receiving early intervention services in Virginia. This program is a service of The Arc of Virginia.

Phone: 804-649-8481




The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center builds positive futures for Virginia's children by working collaboratively with families, schools and communities in order to improve opportunities for excellence in education and success in school and community life. Their focus is children with disabilities. PEATC provides:

  • Services and support for families and professionals;
  • Easy-to-understand, research-based information and training; and
  • Opportunities for strategic partnerships and advocacy for systemic improvement

Phone: 800-869-6782



WrightsLaw provides extensive information and training about special education law (including information about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004)), education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. The webpage has links to advocacy libraries, law libraries, training programs, a newsletter (Special Ed Advocate), and multiple resources, including lists of attorneys, advocates, tutors, and therapists.



Empowering people in the community

Legal Advocacy & Support

disAbility Law Center of Virginia

The disAbility Law Center helps with disability-related problems like abuse, neglect, and discrimination. The organization also assists individuals with disabilities obtain services and treatment. All callers receive help. Individuals with problems, targeted in specific program goals, may also receive advocacy services and/or legal representation.

Phone: 800-552-3962


National Center on Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education

The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) works to increase the nation’s capacity to effectively resolve special education disputes, reducing the use of expensive adversarial processes. CADRE works with state and local education and early intervention systems, parent centers, families and educators to improve programs and results for children with disabilities. CADRE is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs at the US Department of Education to serve as the National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education.


The Endependence Center

The Endependence Center provides assistance to individuals with disabilities to resolve discrimination complaints in all areas of life such as housing, education, employment, transportation, public accommodation and community programs.

Phone: (703)525-3268


Formed Families Forward

Formed Families Forward is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting foster, kinship, and adoptive families of children and youth with disabilities and other special needs. They serve families, educators and child welfare professionals in the Northern Virginia area; however, they are willing to speak to families outside their service area.

Phone: (703) 539-2904


Case Management

Northwestern Community Services

Case management for adults and children with intellectual disabilities.

Administration Phone: 540-636-4250

Shenandoah County: 540-459-5180

Winchester Area: 540-667-8888


Blue Ridge Care Connection for Children

Care Connection for Children is a statewide network of centers of excellence for children with special health care needs (CSHCN) that provide leadership in the enhancement of specialty medical services; care coordination; medical insurance benefits evaluation and coordination; management of the CSHCN Pool of Funds; information and referral to CSHCN resources; family-to-family support; and training and consultation with community providers on CSHCN issues. The Blue Ridge Care Connection network provides services to those in Winchester, Frederick, Clarke and Shenandoah. Children with special health care needs eligible for CCC services are those who have disorders that:

  • Have a physical basis:
  • Have lasted, or are expected to last, at least 12 months; and
  • Produce one of more of the following sequelae:
    • Need for health care and ancillary services over and above the usual for the child's age, or for special ongoing treatments, interventions, or accommodation at home or school
    • Limitation in function, activities, or social role in comparison with healthy age peers in the general areas of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social growth and development;
    • Dependency on one of the following to compensate for, or minimize limitation of, function, activities, or social role: medications, special diet, medical technology, assistive devices or personal assistance.

Age requirement is birth to 21 years of age, and recipient must be a Virginia resident.

Phone: 434-924-0222



Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services

The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, in collaboration with community partners, provides and advocates for resources and services to improve the employment, quality of life, security, and independence of older Virginians, Virginians with disabilities, and their families.

Phone: (540) 722-3453


Blue Ridge Opportunities

Blue Ridge Opportunities is a 501 (c) [3] non-profit corporation that strives to build foundations on which individuals with disabilities can achieve success by providing job skills assessment, training and placement, day support, and community integration for individuals with a variety of needs. Blue Ridge Opportunities is licensed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services (DBHDS) and certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Services (CARF).

Phone: 540-636-4960


NW Works

NW Works provides the following services:

  • Training services in janitorial, landscaping, mailroom and production services.
  • Paid work services, both on-site and off, with hourly rates up to $18 per hour.
  • Comprehensive support services, including music therapy, yoga, dance/movement, educational support/training, woodworking and gardening.
  • Job development and support services to help individuals get and keep jobs of their choice.  

Phone: 540-667-0809 


ShenPaco Industries

Shen-Paco Industries, Inc. is a non-profit community based agency providing vocational, developmental, educational, and rehabilitative services to adults with disabilities in Shenandoah and Page Counties.

Phone: (540) 477-2049


Valley Workforce

The Shenandoah Valley Workforce Investment Board is an incorporated, non-profit organization serving 16 localities in Northwestern Virginia. The SVWIB operates five Valley Workforce Centers and directs numerous workforce initiatives partnering with business, education, economic development, and other community and faith-based organizations to thoroughly understand the current labor market and to develop innovative solutions to address broad regional workforce issues.

Specific programs include Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs, Youth Programs, Valley OJT, and the Shenandoah Valley Energy Partnership.

Phone: (540) 545-4146