Special Education and Mental Health

Youth with mental health disorders often have co-occurring learning and developmental disabilities, and may qualify for Special Education services. We provide the information below to help families and caregivers learn more, find support and access resources.


Find help with the Multiple Systems Navigator

To help families access multiple systems – health, education and human services – the NYS Multiple Systems Navigator provides information about resources across an array of services.

To access the searchable database, visit: https://www.msnavigator.org/ 

Learn about the Individual Education Plan - IEP

An IEP is a legal document (or “plan”) mapping out the type of instruction, support, and services that a student will need to make progress and thrive in the school setting. It is designed to meet a student’s unique needs and is covered by special education law, or the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  For more information from the NYS Education Department, visit:  http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/iepguidance/intro.htm 

Another helpful resource is the Center for Parent Information and Resources, which includes a Spanish language FAQ at https://www.parentcenterhub.org/iep-overview/#

Understand the Difference Between IEP and 504

Both Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans offer formal help for K-12 students with learning and attention issues.

Visit the NYS Multiple Systems Navigator to view a chart to help illustrate the differences: https://www.msnavigator.org/questions/understanding-special-education 

Learn about the School Age Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Centers

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of Special Education (OSE) has created a network, called the OSE Educational Partnership, focused on enhancing services and supports for students with disabilities ages birth to 21. The network utilizes an intensive team approach to technical assistance and professional development. As members of a regional team, the School Age Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Centers and the Early Childhood FACE Centers, provide direct training and support to families, approved preschool and school-age programs, public schools and districts, and community partners. Through their work, the FACE Centers:

  • Promote meaningful change within the educational system;
  • Build collaborative school/community relationships;
  • Promote family and community engagement within the educational system;
  • Provide information and training in the areas of literacy, behavior, transition, specially designed instruction, and equity; as well as
  • Provide information and training about available service options for students from early childhood through high school.

For more information or to find a FACE Center near you, visit:


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