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DHS Education-system Liaisons for Children and Young Adults with Special Needs

Children and young adults with serious emotional disorders, learning and/or physical disabilities

The DHS Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) Bureau of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Children’s Team liaisons provide single points of contact with the education system and help families and school districts assist students who need services to support their academic achievement.

School-based liaisons 

  • Act as a link between the education system, mental health system, social services providers, and all other child-serving systems in Allegheny County.
  • Serve as county coordinators for the Student Assistance Program (SAP) which assists school personnel in identifying issues including alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and mental health issues which pose a barrier to a student’s success.
  • Provide intervention quickly and decisively in situations when a student needs mental health services.

Education Specialists 

  • Provide consultation to families and schools to facilitate the development of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students with serious emotional disorders, learning and/or physical disabilities.
  • Support families by providing information, initiating contacts and referrals and attending meetings as an advisor in developing IEPs.    
  • Provide technical assistance and information on special education legislation and regulations for DHS and provider agencies serving children in Allegheny County schools.
  • Participate in Integrated Services Planning and regularly attend those meetings.

Additional contact information 

Children and young adults with a diagnosis of intellectual disability

The DHS Office of Intellectual Disability (OID) works with a variety of education professionals, students, families/caregivers, and other DHS program and support offices to register students who have been diagnosed with intellectual disability for services. Everyone who is registered with OID will receive supports coordination. There is no waiting list for supports coordination services.

OID has a Transition to Adult Life FactSheet to help individuals and the people who support them prepare for their adulthood.

Additional specific resources are shared through community outreach, learning opportunities, and a Key Communicator e-mail distribution list. School-district trainings have been developed for school personnel and parent groups. For more information on OID and the ID system, including annual transition workshops and FactSheets, please visit the OID webpage or the OID brochure.

Additional contact information 

Young adults involved with the child welfare system

Education liaisons assist interested students involved with the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) attain a post-secondary education. Students must be referred by their CYF caseworker to participate in the program. Currently, educational liaisons assist young adults, ages 16 to 24 years, apply for: 

  • Admission to academic, vocational or other institutions for post-secondary education;
  • Employment and vocational training;
  • Financial aid and scholarships;
  • Housing assistance; and
  • Programs and services to enhance post-secondary success.

Independent Living Housing Assistance

The DHS Executive Office Independent Living Unit assists young adults, 16 to 24 years of age, who were in out-of-home placement on or after their sixteenth birthday, find housing. The youth's CYF caseworker must refer youth for this service.  

Valuable resources on how students can prepare for post-secondary education 

Additional contact information 

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