Press Releases

Educational Service and Support Options Build Roadmaps to Success for Students with Disabilities

ATLANTA, GA (August 22, 2018) – To ensure success in the classroom for students of all ages in Georgia, including those with developmental disabilities, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) highlighted organizations and tools for educational success in K-12 for students with developmental disabilities and their families.

In GCDD’s Back-to-School issue of Making a Difference, the Council focused on how successful planning and using the right resources can help parents navigate the education system and set up their child for success.

Under the federal act that allows Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for Students With Disabilities, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is designed for each child as early as three years old. The IEP team, which consists of a parent; a regular and special education teacher; and others, meets annually to assess how the student will participate in educational milestones in the most conducive classroom environment.

“Although it’s called an IEP, it’s really about the right services and support for that particular child,” said Zelphine Smith-Dixon, state director for Special Education Services and Supports with the Georgia Department of Education.

Additionally, parental support is vital in navigating IEP programs for their child. Programs like Parent 2 Parent Georgia or the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership provide parents and families mentoring and support through the IEP process and more.

To support parents and provide a guideline, GCDD developed and released an education timeline to highlight certain milestones parents must reach to ensure their child(ren) have a successful education and transition plan in place.

For example, by high school, a child’s IEP should have college and employment transition planning in place. Working with various agencies like Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) can help parents find the resources they need.

“We start working with children with disabilities early,” said Robin Folsom, GVRA director of communications and marketing. “We work with people of all disabilities and believe everyone who wants to work should have a right to work. It’s our job to make that happen.”

Other community resources are also available to parents; the Blonder Family Department for Special Needs at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta supports families with IEP recommendations, public school resources and parent networking. Babies Can’t Wait, a program with the Georgia Department of Public Health, assesses a child’s present level of development from birth to age three.

Parents of high schoolers can use resources like Project SEARCH, a high school-to-work transition program, and the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) to start planning for college or employment among others.

For more information on educational support and service options, read the summer edition of GCDD’s Making a Difference magazine online.

About the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities: The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is the State’s leader in advancing public policy on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities. Its mission is to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, work, play and worship in Georgia communities. For more information, visit


For more information:
Hillary Hibben, Media Relations Director
Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities
404.657.2121 (office) | 470.698.3062 (cell)