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By definition, children with special health care needs need more health and related services than typically developing children. Knowing how to quickly find appropriate services can be difficult for both families and health care providers. This section links you with people and resource lists that can help you find the services you need.

Who Can Help You Find Services?

You are the expert on your child. Your child’s doctor or nurse and other service providers can work with you and your family to figure out how best to meet your child’s needs.

Ideally, you will want to find services that are:

  • Welcoming
  • High quality
  • Respectful of your culture and views
  • A good “fit” for your child and family
  • Affordable
  • Coordinated
  • Close to home

Your Child’s Doctor and Office

If your child needs to see a medical or surgical specialist, ask your child’s primary care provider whom he or she would recommend. Many primary care providers have established relationships with specialists with whom they have set up effective ways to co-manage the care of children with special health care needs. To learn more about the many different pediatric medical and surgical specialists to whom you may be referred, please see the brief fact sheets by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

You will also want to know what services and providers are covered by your particular health insurance. Consider bringing your child’s doctor or nurse a list of specialty providers covered by your insurance for him or her to make recommendations about whom to see.

Ask your child’s primary care provider for recommendations for other services you may need as well. Additional services might include: nutrition consultation, speech therapy, family support or help coordinating services. Primary care providers who take care of children with special needs learn from their patients and families about their experiences with particular community services or medical specialists.

Quick Statewide Resources

If you need help getting started, consider calling the Family Health Hotline.

This is a statewide, toll-free Information and Referral Line from WithinReach. Most of the staff is bilingual in English and Spanish. WithinReach also has access to interpretive service for 50 languages. 1-800 322-2588 or 1-800-833-6388 (TTY relay).

For a quick list of statewide resources or the key care coordinators who can help you access these resources, please see Quick Key Contacts.

Key Community Services

If you have concerns about your child’s development and he or she is between birth and 36 months old, your family may be eligible for services from the Infant Toddler Early Intervention Program (ESIT).
Overview of services available through ESIT and common parent questions
Your local Family Resources Coordinator can help you and your doctor or nurse find the right screening and early intervention services.

The Children with Special Health Care Needs Coordinator public health nurse in your local health department can also help you identify services. CSHCN Coordinators can help you identify and coordinate services and resources for children with special health care needs aged birth to 18 years old.

Other parents and family support organizations can also help you learn about the types of services needed by children with needs similar to your child and who in the community provides these services. Your child’s school district can also help.

County-Specific Resource Lists

Families and health care providers report that it is difficult to find out what local services are available for children with special health care needs and their families. Use the Resources By County page to help in your search for resources close to home.

Service Provider Directories

The Resources and Support section of this website lists on-line directories to help families and providers find and access health care providers, hospitals and other health and human services in Washington. Service Providers listed include:

Medical & Dental Other Health Support & Education

Other Resources for Finding Services

  • Starting Point
    Searchable Washington State Resource Guide for Children with Special Health Care Needs developed by the Center for Children with Special Needs with funding from the Department of Health, Children with Special Health Care Needs Program.
  • Kinship Care in Washington State
    Over 35,000 people in Washington State are caring for a relative’s child.The financial, legal, and emotional issues of raising a relative’s child can be challenging. Services and support when raising a relative’s child can be a lifesaver. This website helps provide answers to questions and helps in finding services, programs, and support for those providing kinship care.
  • A Resource Guide for Relatives as Parents in Washington State – a project of the Washington State Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP) and the DSHS Kinship Task Force. While each family’s situation is unique, kinship care families share the critical need for information, services and resources. This resource guide was created to help provide answers.
  • Mobility problems?
    You can get a disabled parking permit from the Washington State Department of Licensing and ask your child’s health care provider fill out a short section of the application form. Individual disabled parking license plates, permanent placards, and temporary placards are available at your local Vehicle Licensing Office.