Opening Doors for Children & Youth with Disabilities
and Special Health Care Needs
About Opening Doors
According to the U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau, about 10 million U.S. children have special health care needs. Those from immigrant communities, linguistic minorities and poor urban areas often face great obstacles to obtaining needed health, education, recreation and vocational services. The Opening Doors Project brings together national experts in pediatrics, public policy, education, family advocacy, and rehabilitation to study how to improve opportunities for these children and their families.
Opening Doors is a five-year Rehabilitation Research and Training Center funded by the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research of the U.S. Department of Education. It is based at the Institute for Community Inclusion, which is a joint program of the University of Massachusetts Boston and Children's Hospital Boston. For a full description of the the Opening Doors project, see OpeningDoorsforYouth.org.
The Consortium and Opening Doors
The Massachusetts Consortium for Children with Special Health Care Needs is partnering with the Opening Doors Project in several important ways:
Through its Family-Professional Partners Institute, the Consortium helped Opening Doors develop a meaningful role for the parent of a child with special health care needs, recruit and train a qualified parent, and build an effective six-month partnership. After the Institute-supported partnership ended, Opening Doors hired the Family Partner and expanded her role.
Tools for Families
Navigating the health care system can be challenging for any family raising a child with special health care needs. Families from immigrant and linguistic minority communities often face additional obstacles to finding the services their children need. The Consortium is working with Opening Doors to develop several tools families can use.
Is Your Child Different?
This brochure was developed with significant input from a consumer advisory group, which comprised parents of children with special needs who represent diverse and underserved populations. Their collective experience determined the brochure's key message ("Talk to other parents!"), its wording and format.