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What is Special Education?

Special education is a service designed to meet the unique needs of students who have disabilities through instruction or special services or programs. In New York State, services related to special education are provided on a continuum from birth through age 26. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that outlines the way states deliver special education services from birth through age 26, and includes the rights parents possess throughout the special education process.

How can Starbridge help you?

At Starbridge, our staff can provide information about –

  • Federal and state laws and regulations governing the delivery of special education
  • How to navigate school systems and policies
  • Techniques to help you communicate effectively with your child's school team
  • Resources available to assist you

What types of educational supports and services are available?

Early Intervention through Preschool (Birth-Age 5)

Families of infants and toddlers with disabilities can access a variety of supports and services, including assistance with diagnosis, through the early intervention program administered by the New York State Department of Health

Families of preschool children with disabilities have access to a variety of programs and services for their children through the New York State Education Department’s Early Childhood Direction Centers

How Starbridge can help you

We can provide information about how to get started and what resources are available to support you and your child. Please contact us for more information.

School Age (Age 5-26)

Is your child struggling with school? Students who have disabilities or suspected disabilities and are age 5-26 have access to a variety of supports, services, programs and accommodations that allow them to receive an appropriate education that will prepare them for adulthood.

How Starbridge can help you

Our Family Education Specialists and Advocates can talk with you about –

  • Your child’s current educational experiences
  • General education and special education programs and policies
  • Federal and state laws ensuring student's access to supports and parent's rights to participate in the process of planning supports
  • Ways to collaborate effectively with your school district to meet your child’s needs

Please contact us for more information.

To view online information about Special Education in New York State visit http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/. For a downloadable Parent Guide to Special Education, click here.

Transition (Age 14-26)

Transition describes a required part of the special education process for secondary students who have disabilities. This process involves students, families, schools and community service providers working collaboratively to prepare a student who has a disability for the next phase of life, whether it is post-secondary education, employment, or adult services.

How Starbridge can help you

Please visit our Transition page for more information about workshops, programs, and services offered by Starbridge to support your transition.

Workshops for Families & Professionals

We provide workshops and resources to families and the professionals who work with them. To view workshops we are currently offering, go to our website calendar.


We offer resources online and in-person. To view online resources, visit our Resources page. To speak with a resource specialist, call our Intake line at 585-224-7359. You may also view our Working With Educational Advocates page for more information about the process of connecting with a Family Education Specialist or an Advocate.

Where can you get more information about special education?

Please use the Contact Us form or call us at 585-224-7359 and leave a message for our Intake Coordinator. The Coordinator will call you back to ask for information about you or the person you are calling about (if you are phoning for someone else) and can connect you with further resources or staff.


Starbridge is a Parent Training & Information Center (PTIC), funded by the US Department of Education. Our PTIC provides workshops and resources for families and professionals regarding special education rights and responsibilities, and promotes meaningful involvement of families in their children’s education programs.

Starbridge's PTIC serves all of New York State, except the five boroughs of New York City and Long Island. Our Rochester-based staff serve families in the following counties: Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Wayne and Yates. To speak with one of our Family Education Specialists, please contact us at 585-546-1700 or use the Contact Us form.

For residents in Central New York – Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Onondaga, Otsego, and Tompkins Counties – please contact Kara Georgi, Family Education Specialist serving Central New York, by phone at 315-345-2555 or by email at kgeorgi@starbridgeinc.org.

We contract with Core Community Partners across the state to provide services in these regions –

Starbridge is a part of the New York State Parent Network, a collaboration between all federally-funded Parent Centers in the state.
To find your Parent Center in other parts of New York or the USA, go to http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/


OSEP ideas that work smallStarbridge is a New York State Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC), serving all of New York State except the 5 boroughs of New York City and Long Island. The contents of this website were developed in part under a grant from the US Department of Education, #H328M150079.However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government Project Officer, Carmen Sanchez.