In 2012, 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast was approached by a coalition of organizations addressing the Palm Beach County service delivery system for children with special needs.
This coalition, the Special Needs Continuum of Care Advisory Committee, was established by United Way of Palm Beach County and the Children's Services Council as a planning body to evaluate the needs of the Special Needs community and concluded that a specialized helpline was badly needed. They requested that 211 establish a hotline and database for children with special needs in Palm Beach County similar to one that has been operating successfully by the 211 in Broward County since 2006.
The present need and circumstance is that there is a growing population of families who have children with special needs, and these families find the delivery system daunting to navigate. According to the latest Center of Disease Control (CDC) report, during 2014-2016, the prevalence of children aged 3-17 years who had ever been diagnosed with a development disability increased from 5.76% to 6.99%.
Additionally, in 2016, the CDC reported that 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which remains unchanged from their report in 2014. It is estimated that 1 to 1.2 million children under the age of 21 have been diagnosed with autism in the United States. And, finally, the Palm Beach County School District reports that there are 31,436 disabled ESE (Exceptional Student Education) students currently enrolled in our school system which represents 15% of children age 3 to 22.
These children and their families have a difficult time finding services that are geared specifically to children and young adults who have special needs. Providing for the care and responding to the needs of a child with special needs can be overwhelming and emotionally demanding for family members, as each and every day presents new challenges and needs that require attention.
In light of this condition, the Special Needs HelpLine was established to help this target population obtain support; resolve issues; get connected to services; and have their family’s needs met.
The goal is to alleviate the emotional stress experienced by parents and caregivers of children (birth to 22) with special needs in Palm Beach County and ensure their connection to the services that they need.
Our Special Needs Advocate works with approximately 350 families annually.
To connect with our Special Needs Advocate, simply call 2-1-1 and ask to be referred to the Special Needs HelpLine.
Nonprofit 211 HelpLine’s mission is to connect people to services 24 hours a day by understanding their individual emotional, financial and community needs and to support the health & human service system as a whole.
To learn more simply dial 2-1-1.