Disability Services Coordinator Orientation Guide

Conclusion and Appendices

There is no question that you have a big job as a disability services coordinator. If you are new, you may have a steep learning curve. This guide is designed to orient you and lead the way through the complex and multiple demands you juggle. If you are seasoned, it can bring you up to date.

The recurring theme of this guide is the required coordinated approach to ensure the full participation of children with disabilities and their families in the Head Start program. This theme weaves itself through the chapters on legislation, enrollment, screening and referral, teaching and curriculum, health and safety, transitions, and professional development. Everywhere you turn, you will see a connection to the coordinated approach. This guide ends with a look at the continuous improvement efforts your program takes to ensure effective services and systems that support children with disabilities and their families.

Use these pointers as you continue your important work.

  • You are not alone. Working with program staff and early intervention and special education partners is essential. Numerous online materials can support your work. Use this guide as a resource.
  • You can be innovative. As you identify areas needing improvement, think of new ways to do things. Brainstorm with others. Think about writing your own scenarios that appear in this guide!
  • You can count on families. They have their children's best interests at heart, as do staff. Together, you make a strong team.
  • You can be an advocate for inclusive environments. You have seen firsthand the benefits for children and families. Help others understand the guiding legislation and child and family outcomes that support inclusion.
  • You can always learn. People bring different perspectives, including specialists, staff, and parents. The field changes as new research emerges.

As a disability services coordinator, what is your final goal? Of course, it's to ensure the implementation of a coordinated approach. At another level, however, it's to hear comments like this one from a mother of an Early Head Start child with severe disabilities:

"The other children know him as Christopher, not as the wheelchair kid."