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Families and primary health care providers don’t have to identify, provide and coordinate all the services needed by a child or youth with special health care needs by themselves.   Community services and systems are available to help.

Below are several key organizations or people who know about resources in your community and can help you quickly find and access needed resources.   For more detailed information specific to your county, please see the section Resources by County.




Family Health Hotline – a program of WithinReach

Toll-free, statewide child and family health Information and Referral Line from WithinReach. Get connected to services in your community including free or low-cost health insurance, food resources, immunizations, breastfeeding support, family planning services, parenting support, child development screening services, and many other social and health programs, including information for children with special health care needs. Access to interpretive service for 50 languages.

Hotline (Hours: Monday to Thursday 8:00am to 5:30pm, Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm)
1-800 322-2588 or 1-800-833-6388 (tty relay) – a program of WithinReach

Want to look for resources yourself and apply for programs for which you are eligible? Search the ParentHelp123 website to find services available through the Family Health Hotline. The Call Center staff is the same for the Health Hotline and ParentHelp123- Call if you want help finding out if your family qualifies for programs and filling out applications on-line.

Hotline: 1-866-585-1123
En Español (Spanish):

Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) Program (“Birth to Three”)

The Department of Early Learning’s (DEL) Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program provides services to children birth to age 3 who have disabilities or developmental delays. Eligible infants and toddlers and their families are entitled to individualized, quality early intervention services in accordance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C.

In Washington, referrals to early intervention services are provided through Local Lead Agencies. Family Resources Coordinators help families access the early intervention services their child may need. They also help families get a free developmental screening and suggest other community resources.

Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Coordinator

CSHCN Coordinators are public health nurses in local health departments who can assist families who have children with special needs (in most counties from birth to age 18).CSHCN Coordinators can:

  • Help families access needed services for their child, such as medical care and other interventions.
  • Refer families to health insurance programs and information, both private insurance and the state funded Medicaid program.
  • Help families support each other through parent support organizations.
  • Help with concerns such as feeding, nutrition, growth, development and behavior.
  • Provide screening and assessment for your child.

How to Make a CSHCN Referral and County Contact Info

Note: Most county CSHCN Coordinators can provide at least phone consultation and some are able to do home visits.
Go directly to the website of your local public health department or district

Special Education (ages 3-21) Services

Special education is the provision of specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of an eligible student in order to allow him or her to make progress toward the state standards.  Eligible special education students from ages three to twenty-one are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

Eligibility for special education is determined by the Evaluation Team.  The Evaluation Team members include parents, educators, and individuals that have specific information relevant to the childs education.

Eligibility is determined when a student meets the following:

  • The student has been identified as having a disability (ies).
  • The disability (ies) adversely affects the students educational performance.
  • The request for testing to determine if a child qualifies to receive special education must be made in writing.

It is a good idea to direct the request both to a district staff member at the building level (school psychologist or special education teacher) and to your district’s special education director at the administrative level.

Washington State Family Support Organizations

  • Parent to ParentStatewide parent network providing emotional support and information to parents who have children with disabilities or developmental delays. 1-800-821-5927
  • Fathers Network Advocates for and provides support and resources for all men and families who have children with special needs.
  • PAVE (Partnerships for Action Voices for Empowerment)Statewide parent training and information center providing assistance to families who children with disabilities, ages birth through adulthood. 1-800-5 PARENT
  • National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) – WA State and Local Chaptersprovide support, education, information and referral and advocacy for consumers, families, and friends of people with severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic and other severe anxiety disorders, autism and pervasive developmental disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and other severe and persistent mental illnesses that affect the brain.
  • Additional WA State Family Support Organizations

Washington HealthPlanFinder

Washington residents have a new way to find, compare and enroll in health insurance. It’s called Washington Healthplanfinder, and it gives individuals, families, and small business owners the confidence to choose the plan that best fits their needs and their budget. Washington Healthplanfinder offers:

  • Apples-to-apples comparisons of health insurance plans
  • Financial help to pay for copays and premiums
  • Expert customer support online, by phone, or in-person through a local organization, insurance broker or agent

Washington Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors

A free service of the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner providing a statewide network of trained volunteers who educate, assist and advocate for consumers about their rights and options regarding health insurance and health care access.

Telephone – 24-hour, toll-free referral hot line at:  1-800-562-6900.

Medical Librarians

There are medical libraries across Washington State that serve both health care consumers and health care providers.  If a hospital near you is not on the list see if they have a library and if it is open to the public and unaffiliated health professionals.  Most public librarians are also happy to answer health questions.