To make a referral to any of the Children’s Special Services (CSS) programs, you may call 912-644-5804, fill out a referral form or stop by the CSS office located at 420 Mall Boulevard in Savannah, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Children 1st is the “single point of entry” for all Children Special Services (CSS) programs. A single call provides easy access to all of the following programs that your child may need.
Children 1st is a state-funded program created by the Georgia Division of Public Health to promote the healthy development of young children and assure that they arrive at school healthy and ready for success. In addition to CSS programs, Children 1st will help you find resources in your community to meet the needs of you and your family.
There is no cost to you and the program is voluntary.
Babies Can’t Wait (BCW) is Georgia’s Early Intervention program serving children with significant developmental delays, or children who may be at risk for delays due to a diagnosed medical condition. The program provides services to children from birth to age three and their families.
Babies Can’t Wait is a voluntary program and there are no financial eligibility requirements. The staff of BCW provides free evaluations to determine eligibility. Service coordination is also a free service. Other services through the BCW program include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, assistive technology devices, audiology, family training and counseling, nutrition services, psychological services, special instruction and vision services. BCW staff includes a behavior specialist, family therapist, licensed registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, licensed dietitian, orientation/mobility specialist, psychologist, and social worker.
All referrals to Babies Can’t Wait come through Children First, the single point of entry for all Children’s Special Services programs. You may use the referral form or just call 912-644-5804.
How it works
A Service Coordinator will then contact the parent to set up an intake meeting to explain the program and do a developmental screening. If indicated, additional evaluations will be done to determine eligibility for Babies Can’t Wait. Then the Service Coordinator will write an Individualized Family Service Plan with input from the parent and the evaluators. This plan will identify the goals, what services are needed, who will provide the services and payment. The Service Coordinator can also provide information about other resources such as parent support groups, conferences and workshops, other funding sources for equipment, etc.
Children’s Medical Services (CMS) provides medical care coordination for children from birth to age 21 who have a disabling condition or chronic disease. CMS can provide assistance with long-term specialized care, medical equipment, medications, physical therapy, hospitalization, occupational therapy, nursing services, family education, social services and case coordination. The goal of CMS is to help each child reach his or her maximum potential. CMS is supported with state and federal funds.
Eligibility for CMS is based on income, type of medical condition and the age of the child. PeachCare, Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients are accepted. Families with or without insurance are also accepted and may (depending on their income) be required to pay a portion of cost based on a sliding fee scale. Examples of medical conditions covered by CMS include asthma, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, scoliosis, seizures, neurological disorders, immune disorders, hydrocephalus, hearing conditions, Down syndrome, craniofacial disorders, cleft lip and palate, orthopedic disorders, cardiac conditions, chronic lung conditions, vision disorders (other than corrective lenses), diabetes, urinary tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and genetic disorders.
Family Support Services is a non-entitlement program which brokers disability specific services based on each individual and families unique needs. Family Support Services are based on the value that families belong together and individuals are best served in the community setting. These supports meet every day needs that are often critical in avoiding family crises. The goal of Family Support Services is to assist in maintaining a cohesive family unit and to assist the individual to live at home in the community.
Family Support Funding assists families in obtaining goods and services necessary to ensure the best possible care for their loved one. Goods and services your family can obtain may include:
- Equine Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Summer Camp
- Specialized Medical Supplies/Clothing /Nutrition
- Dental & Vision Services
- Diagnostic Services
- Recreation/ Leisure Activities
- Environmental & Vehicle Modifications
- Therapeutic services
- Respite Services
- Parent/ Family Training
- Behavior Consultation and support
- Financial and Life Planning
- Travel Reimbursement for medical appointments
Individuals, age 3 and up, living in Georgia and within a covered county that have been (1) diagnosed with a developmental disability (2) are living at home with their family (3) and are not currently receiving a NOW/COMP Waiver are eligible for Family Support Services.
Eligible diagnoses include, but are not limited to:
- Developmental Disability
- Intellectual Disability
- Cerebral Palsy
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Down Syndrome
*Family support funding is not open to children in foster care.
Apply for Services
Families must complete an Application and the Family Support Agreement and provide supporting documentation of the identified developmental disability.
You can apply at the local community-based providers listed below:
B & B Care Services, Inc.
303 S. Laurel St.
P.O. Box 1040
Springfield, GA 31329
Easter Seals Southern Georgia, Inc.
7395 Hodgson-Memorial Drive, Suite 101
Savannah, GA 31406
Gateway Behavioral Health Services
941 E.G. Miles Parkway
Hinesville, GA 31313
Verlena Hawkins, Family Support Coordinator
Champions for Children through Easter Seals Southern Georgia, Inc. is a program also offered by Easter Seals that provides support for families whose children are under 18 years of age, live at home, have applied for SSI or Katie Beckett and received a level of care denial but have a physical, cognitive, developmental or medical disability. Services that may be obtained:
- Respite Care/Meghan’s House
- Medical supplies and equipment
- Medical services and therapies
- Assistive technology and equipment
- Dental and optical services
- Travel reimbursements for medical appointments
- Recreational or therapeutic activities
- Other services related to the child’s disability not covered by other payment sources
- Referrals to Parent to Parent of Georgia and other resources
Easter Seals Southern Georgia, Inc.
7395 Hodgson-Memorial Drive, Suite 101
Savannah, GA 31406
Disability Medicaid for Youth 18 and Under
Institutionalized/Home-Based Program covers aged, blind or disabled persons who are in an institution or home-based program for 30 continuous days. This program uses an income limit that is 3 times the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) limit. It includes individuals in a hospital or nursing home as well as other individuals.
- Social Security Benefits for Disabled Children. All family must apply through the Social Security Administration and be screened for SSI if they have a child with a documented disability and want the child to have disability Medicaid. If denied based on income, a family can then apply for the Katie Beckett Deeming Waiver (KB) as that program waives income and eligibility is solely based on the child’s level of disability. Please keep your denial letter as that is important to submit with the KB application. KB provides a child the disability health coverage the same as SSI but does not provide supplemental income.
- Katie Beckett Deeming Waiver Medicaid provides Medicaid to blind or long-term disabled children at risk of entering an institution. This Medicaid coverage allows the child to be cared for at home rather than having to enter a nursing home. To determine eligibility for Medicaid under Katie Beckett, consideration of the parents’ income and resources is “waived”. Only the child’s monthly income and resources are considered. Qualification is not based on medical diagnosis; instead it is based on the institutional level of care the child requires. Title 42 Code of Federal Regulations outlines the criteria used to determine eligibility.Applications may be obtained from the county Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) office in the child’s county of residence or by contacting the Centralized Katie Beckett Medicaid Team at 678-248-7449. The completed application should be mailed to:Right From the Start Medicaid ProjectCentralized Katie Beckett Medicaid Team
5815 Live Oak Parkway
Norcross, GA 30093-1700
Waiver Classes of Assistance provides additional services above what regular Medicaid pays. Each program defines what expenses are covered.
- New Option Waiver (NOW) and Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (COMP) are designed to provide in-home and community-based services to Medicaid eligible mentally retarded and developmentally disabled individuals who do not receive Medicaid benefits under a cash assistance program. Parents may submit an application for children starting at three years old. Click here for the NOW and COMP Waivers Applications
Resources for Special Needs Children and Teens
Parent 2 Parent of Georgia Roadmap for Success helps parents navigate the system from birth through adulthood.