Foster Care

Specialized Support for Foster Families of Children with Disabilities or Special Healthcare Needs

Elementary aged girl with down syndrome wearing a blue headband and blue dress standing in form of a school bus

Choosing to become a foster parent for a child with special needs is a life-changing decision. If you’re thinking about it or you are already fostering a child with special needs, there are ways you can prepare yourself to learn how to effectively advocate for their educational needs and concerns.

The term “special needs” is defined broadly as an individual with a mental, emotional, or physical disability. Someone with special needs may need help with communication, movement, self-care, or decision-making. Special needs may mean that the child:

  • Has special healthcare needs that may include mental, physical, or behavioral challenges.
  • Is at risk of developing learning, emotional, behavioral, or physical disabilities in the future.
  • Was prenatally exposed to drugs or alcohol.
  • May require health and related services of a type or amount beyond what is generally required by children.

How can we help you with your foster child’s special needs?


FHF of GNO is here to provide Louisiana foster families with the support, training and resources you need to be an effective advocate for your foster children with disabilities or special healthcare needs. All of our services are always FREE for families. Through training and knowledge gained from our own personal experiences, we can:

  • Answer questions and provide assistance for any disability or special healthcare need, any age.
  • Help you understand and navigate support systems like special education, Medicaid, home and community-based services, and more.
  • Teach you to advocate for your foster child, so that over time that child may learn to self-advocate.

FHF of GNO is a “one-stop organization” for families to receive ongoing support, assistance, training, and information to be able to help improve the health and educational outcomes for children with disabilities and special healthcare needs. FHF of GNO understands the importance of the “family voice,” not only to provide peer support, but also in respecting the role of the parent and family as a child’s primary teacher.

FHF of GNO is committed to:

  • supporting foster parents and families in the same way we support biological or adoptive parents and families;
  • supporting foster youth in their journey to adulthood;
  • honoring the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals with disabilities and special healthcare needs; and
  • creating and maintaining an environment of mutual respect for diverse cultures, traditions, and experiences.

Special Education Advocacy and the Foster Parent Role

Like biological parents, foster parents of children with disabilities are usually granted a decision-making role and are involved at every step of the special education process, including:

  • identification that the child may have a disability;
  • evaluation to see if the child has a disability and is eligible for special education services;
  • placement in an appropriate special education program for eligible children; and,
  • the provision of a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) for the eligible child.

If your foster child has special needs, or you suspect they may, Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans can help educate and train you on the special education process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and 504 accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Please give us a call at (504) 888-9111 or (800) 766-7736.

FHF of GNO Foster Family Flyer