WIHD Receives $4.3 Million in Grants to Run Family and Community Engagement Centers for Special Education in the Hudson Valley

The Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) has been awarded $4.3 million in grants from the New York State Department of Education to assist schools and providers, and help families navigate early intervention and special education services for their children.

WIHD will operate the Early Childhood and School Age Family and Community Engagement Centers for NYSED’s Office of Special Education to serve residents throughout the Hudson Valley over the next five years starting July 1.

“WIHD has a long history of building collaborative community relationships,’’ said Susan Fox, President and CEO of the Westchester Institute for Human Development. “Since 2009, we have served thousands of families and school districts throughout the Hudson Valley, providing training, education and resources to improve the lives of children with disabilities. We are pleased that the State Education Department continues to show confidence in our ability to provide the best support for families and children.”

Six full-time staff at WIHD will be assigned to provide services to schools, agencies and families of children from birth-5 and school-age children 5-21. The goal is to improve child outcomes through increased family engagement. The centers aim to reach families and provide them with resources, as well as educate them on their rights to services under Special Education Law. The Family and Community Engagement Centers will cover residents in seven counties – Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties. More than 50,000 school-age children in the Hudson Valley receive special education services.

“We work with schools, providers, and family members themselves in order to increase their capacity to access services and communicate effectively,’’ said Naomi Brickel, Director of the Community Support Network. “It’s a complex system, and we work to make it easier for families and professionals to connect and collaborate effectively.”

To learn more about services available through the Family and Community Engagement Centers, call 914-493-8119.

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About the Author: Vicky Hochman