Special Education Family Engagement: Excel with Exceptional Lives

Our tools and resources will help you build great relationships and effective partnerships with your Special Education Families to better support students with disabilities and learning differences. Learn how we can help you. 

Parents, a teacher, and a small child sit together around a table in a classroom.

For schools & districts

Our goal is to help your team collaborate with Special Education families to improve outcomes and school climates.

Maybe you’ve seen the research. Family engagement leads to better educational outcomes, increased job satisfaction for teachers, happier families, lower suspension rates, and better attendance.  

In Special Education, building positive family relationships can be extra challenging, even though the work requires frequent, structured collaboration with families. Students have complicated needs and schools and families don’t always see eye to eye on how to meet them.

Schools are struggling with staffing and compliance. Relationships can become difficult or even involve legal action. The great news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

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    Impacts of family engagement:

  • Students

    Have better educational outcomes: attendance, test scores, graduation rates, post-secondary attendance.

  • Educators

    Are more successful motivating and engaging students,feel supported by families, have higher morale and professional satisfaction

  • Families

    Have stronger relationships with their children, improved rapport with teachers and other school staff, and better understand their children's needs and challenges.

  • Schools

    Gain a more positive climate, more support from families, and a better reputation (the grapevine matters!).

  • Districts and Communities

    Reduce suspension rates and high-risk behaviors, increase levels of participation in after-school activities, improve educational outcomes system-wide.

Why Exceptional Lives

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Exceptional Lives is the only program that is 100% focused on achieving better family engagement in Special Education. 

Exceptional Lives helps you improve your capacity and skills for creating meaningful relationships with your Special Education families. We help you learn to partner better with families to achieve your shared goal– the best possible lifelong outcomes for every student you serve.

Why you should work with us: 

  • We have specialized training in harnessing the power of family engagement to improve outcomes for children, educators, districts and communities.
  • We are experts in special education and disabilities. Our staff are experienced in education, health literacy, user-centered design, and quality improvement.
  • We are parents and professionals with many years of experience working with and navigating Special Education and complex community-based services. We have been in the shoes of both your families and your staff. 

Strong partnerships and collaboration between schools and Special Education families are critical. We can help you build them.

With our expert help: 

  • Teachers can stay focused on their students and benefit from parents’ input
  • Parents better understand the system and learn to communicate their children’s needs effectively 
  • Student with disabilities get the support they need for a positive learning experience and great educational outcomes
  • Administrators can get concrete data on where families are getting stuck and can help solve their problems upstream.

Hear what our partners are saying about us

Hear what our partners are saying about us!

Here, Dr. Lauren Miley outlines the work Exceptional Lives has done in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Education and its Division of Diverse Learners.

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What we Do

These resources offer support for families at each of the major inflection points and reflect your local laws, policies, and language.

Special Education Family Engagement Resources:
the latest from Exceptional Lives

Learn how Exceptional Lives can help you!

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For schools & districts

Our family engagement hubs help you build stronger partnerships with special education families. 

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Exceptional Lives is the only program that equips parents and schools for a collaborative and informed partnership that is 100% focused on students with disabilities.

When informed parents partner with dedicated educators, every student with a disability can make progress.

The Exceptional Families Engagement Hub is a comprehensive one-stop-shop that combines localized and national resources, on-demand support, family education, and personalized paths no matter where a child is in their education journey.

Exceptional Lives helps you deliver a new level of support by incorporating family and school needs assessments as part of an overall robust implementation process and a continuous cycle of outreach, evaluation, and improvements.

See Results with an Exceptional Families Engagement Hub Personalized for Your Local Community:

  • Teachers spend more time on instruction and less time supporting parents
  • Parents understand what the system can offer and are able to communicate their children’s needs effectively with the school
  • Student with disabilities get the support they need for a positive learning experience, and great educational outcomes

Every Exceptional Families Engagement Hub includes:

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Our hubs include multi-media parent information experiences and on-demand family education

These resources offer support for families at each of the major inflection points and reflect your local laws, policies, and language.

Searchable resource directory

Localized Disability Services Finder

Each DSF is customized and carefully maintained for each district and community served to expand resources to support children and families beyond the school walls. This makes it easier for families to find what they need, and relieves the burden from teachers and staff for helping families find these services

  • Searchable

    By ZIP code, distance, insurance, type of service, and languages spoken.

  • Intuitive & easy to use

  • Mobile-friendly

  • Accessible in both English & Spanish

Example search results page from Exceptional Lives Disability Services Finder
  • 2800+

    Total records

  • Yearly

    Review of every record

  • 10+

    Years experience serving families

Frequently Asked Questions about our Disability Services Finder

A customized Disability Services Finder for your district can save your staff a ton of time and help your families have better access to services in your community.

Contact us today to learn more. 

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The Exceptional Lives Disability Services Finder is a bilingual, searchable, on-line directory of community-based resources to support children with disabilities and their families. 

Each version will be customized and designed to meet the unique needs of your school district. The structure and functionality of the database is proven and already in use in Louisiana and Massachusetts. 

Your DSF will be co-branded with your school district logo and tailored to the unique needs of your district.

Resources change so quickly that it is nearly impossible to maintain updated information without dedicated staffing and resources devoted to this purpose. Our team stays in regular contact with service providers listed to make sure we provide accurate, detailed information.

In addition, users can search our DSF based on distance from their ZIP code, type of service provided, whether the service accepts Medicaid, and a number of other factors so they can narrow down their list to exactly what they need.

If you have community-based resources you regularly refer families to, we are glad to incorporate those resources into the DSF.

We find that 80-90% of service providers experience a change in their business profile in the course of a year, so we routinely update 100% of our resource listings every year. Many are updated more often.

Each of our listings describes the services offered and who is eligible. We provide information about application processes when needed, and who the services are designed for. Our listings also include information about whether providers speak Spanish, and whether they accept Medicaid. We also specify the target population and whether the provider offers autism-friendly services.

Before adding a listing, we speak with a provider or administrator at the program. We will ask about licensure and practices and confirm all information available on the website. In the rare cases when we list a provider that does not accept insurance, we verify the license through the accrediting organization.

On the landing page for the DSF, we explicitly state that resource listings have been vetted for accuracy but that inclusion does not constitute endorsement or an indication of quality. We do not rate services because people’s experiences vary greatly depending on the needs of each child and family.

The DSF is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. It can be accessed easily from a computer, tablet, or mobile device.

We also provide both simple written instructions and a short how-to video, both in English and Spanish, for anyone who needs more support.

All of our listings are written using plain language guidelines, which make it easy for families to read, understand, and use the information. We avoid acronyms and define important terms to make the information as accessible as possible to all. 

Our DSF listings are all available in both English and Spanish. Spanish translations are provided by experienced translators, never by Artificial Intelligence. We also include information in each of our listings about whether providers speak Spanish.

  • "Live chat was so helpful. They answered my question quickly and directed me to helpful resources. Your customer support is great!"

    -Parent via User Support

  • Expert, Family Support Chat Helpline

    Live Chat Helpline

    Our team members – themselves parents of children with disabilities – are available via chat, text, or phone to answer questions like:

    • Who do I talk with if my child’s IEP doesn’t seem to be helping?
    • How can I find an Occupational Therapist or Developmental Pediatrician that takes my insurance?
    • What should I do if I think my child has a learning disability?
    • How do I find an employment program for my student with disabilities who is about to finish high school?
    • My child’s pediatrician doesn’t think there’s anything to worry about, but I’m still concerned. What should I do next?
    • The doctor mentioned my child might be able to get Medicaid. How do I figure out if she’s eligible?
    • … And so much more!

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    More samples of our family support content