Children with special needs can encounter a variety of government systems as they grow up. These systems are required to work with children regardless of their abilities, but it can be a challenge to ensure that your child receives what they need. Hiring an attorney can help you obtain the results that you want for your child.
If your child has special needs, public schools in Tennessee are required to provide your child with a Free and Appropriate Public Education that will meet your child’s specific circumstances. If you have questions or believe that your child is not in the appropriate educational environment, it can be helpful to consult a lawyer with experience in this area.
If you qualify, TennCare/Medicaid is required to provide your child with certain baseline services. If you believe you have been wrongfully denied a medical service, you can contact an attorney to review appeal options. You must act quickly because appeal deadlines are very short. General information regarding TennCare, published by the State, can be found here. Be sure you are informed before you accept a denial of necessary health services as a “final” decision.
Some children with special needs will continue to require your support as they become adults. As your child approaches eighteen years old, you may want to consult an attorney to ensure that you or another adult can continue to provide for his or her medical, educational and financial needs as an adult.
Conservatorships can be tailored to the specific circumstances of your child and can be partial or full, so that your child retains as much control as possible. Other options may also be appropriate depending upon your specific circumstances. Contact an attorney at least three months before your child’s eighteenth birthday to ensure that you are prepared for your child with special needs to become an adult.
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN’S SERVICES (DCS)
Children with special needs encounter DCS for a variety of reasons. Working with DCS can be a confusing experience. They are a large state agency with many statutorily mandated services focused on keeping children in or returning children to their family home. The transfer of custody of a child to DCS through voluntary placement, delinquency, unruly petitions or the removal and placement of a child with DCS can have far-reaching legal ramifications for you and your family. Consulting an attorney who understands this system can protect your rights during your interactions with DCS.
If you adopted your child out of foster care and your child’s special needs are greater than you anticipated, or you suspect you did not receive all of the information regarding their conditions at the time of adoption, consult an attorney. The DCS Adoption Subsidy Manual covers some of this information, but consulting an attorney can help you confirm whether you have the information and resources you need to successfully raise a child adopted from foster care.
DCS RESOURCES AND LINKS
DCS has many responsibilities and very specific rules to follow. If DCS is involved in your life, consult the policies they publish so you know what is supposed to be happening. The terms they use are sometimes confusing and have very specific legal or technical meanings. Consult the DCS Glossary to make sure you understand what is happening. An attorney can assist you with ensuring that policies are followed and that all appropriate options are explored for your family.
Primary Counties of practice: Blount, Knox, Loudon, Sevier and Monroe. This includes the cities of Knoxville, Farragut, Alcoa, Maryville, Rockford, Lenoir City, Loudon, Madisonville, Sweetwater, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and all other communities wtihin those counties.
Additional Counties of practice: Julia will, and frequently does, travel to any additional counties in East or Middle Tennessee as needed for your case. She makes every effort to minimize those travel costs to you.