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Family Support Resource Center

"To ensure that all children with special needs and their families receive the support necessary to participate in, contribute to and achieve fulfillment of life in their school or community."

The Family Support Resource Center is a resource, referral and training center established to assist parents of children and young adults with special needs. The center serves as a link between family, school and community. The Center, in collaboration with Family Support Network offers a full range of support for families of children with special needs, from birth to 21 years.

The Family Support Resource Center is sponsored by Washington County Public Schools, in collaboration with Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).


Toni Nelson (Coordinator) 
Marlene Powell (Family Support Coordinator)

  • Phone: 301.766.8221
  • Fax: 301.791.4113

Upcoming workshops, webinars and Events:

Successful Times, the Family Support Resource Center's newsletter, which is published three times in the school calendar, contains Information about upcoming workshops, along with a registration form that you can complete and return to the Family Support Resource Center. Other trainings statewide or local that occur in between can be found on our Facebook page. When workshops are offered, free childcare is available. Pre-registration is required at 301-766-8221.

Do you want answers?

  • How do I know if my child needs special education or related services? How do I have my child evaluated?
  • What are IEP, LRE and due process?
  • What do all the special education terms really mean?
  • What are my legal rights in relation to my child?
  • How do I get the school to understand my child's needs?
  • How can I become an advocate for my child at school?
  • How can I encourage and motivate my child at home?
  • What programs and services are available to help my child when schooling is complete?
  • Are there discussion groups where I can meet other parents of children with special needs?

Our staff works to provide answers to your questions about special education and your child.

transition from pre-k to elementary

  • Where: Family Support Resource Center
  • Date & Time: April 27, 2017: 6 - 8 p.m.
  • Details: Family Support Center staff will help parents prepare for the transition. Free childcare is available with pre-registration.
  • Contact: 301.766.8221

sign language workshop

  • Where: The Family Center
  • Date & Time: April 27, 2017: 9:30 - 11 a.m.
  • Details: "Signing with Young Children" is free for parents of children from birth to 5.
  • Contact: 301.766.8221

mothers support group

"Just for Moms" Support Group is to provide a setting to gain information and advice for mothers who have children with developmental or physical disabilities, mental health, chronic medical conditions or learning issues. The next meeting is scheduled on the following date:

  • May 4: 6 - 8 p.m.

how to work & keep disability benefits

  • Where: Developmental Disabilities Administration, 1360 Marshall St., Hagerstown, MD 21740
  • Date & Time: May 16, 2017: 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Details: The workshop explains how people, including transitioning youth, can get or keep Medicaid Waiver services while working, in addition to discovering how to get benefits counseling.
  • Contact: 301.791.4670

Autism Support Group

The mission of the all-new Autism Support Group is to offer support, parent-to-parent interaction and education about new strategies for children on the Autism Spectrum. The group will meet at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education. Free childcare is available, but pre-registration is required for childcare: 301.766.8221. The next meeting is scheduled on the following date:

  • May 18: 6 - 8 p.m.

1st Thursdays - The Mental Health Center

  • Where: The Mental Health Center, 1180 Professional Court, Hagerstown
  • Time & Dates: 6 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Details: Free educational programs focused on wellness
  • Registration/Contact: 301.791.3045 to reserve a seat


  • Advocating & Understanding the Special Education Process for your child, ages birth to 21
  • Disability Awareness
  • Estate Planning & Transition at the age of 18-21
  • Parenting Your Special Child
  • Sign Language, Levels Beginner, Level 2, Level 3
  • Signing with young children
  • 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline Training

Maryland Accessible Telecommunications Program Distributing Ipads to Eligible parents

You could qualify for FREE assistive telephone equipment through the Maryland Accessible Telecommunications (MAT) program from Maryland Relay. The MAT program is designed to benefit Maryland residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind or are living with limited speech, mobility or cognitive abilities. Individuals in the program work one-on-one with a program specialist to create a personalized telecommunications solution.

To get started, download the MAT application from the link to the right of this page. Please complete and sign each form in the 7-page PDF and return to the address listed in the packet.


Pathfinders for Autism, including the new MyAutismTeam, includes over 50,000 members who are parents of children of all ages diagnosed with ASD. Parents post updates, share daily trials and triumphs of parenting, provide support to each other, answer and ask questions, and exchange information on valuable local services and providers.

Summer Programs and Activities

When school is out for the summer, finding good summer activities for children with special needs takes careful planning.

For children who struggle in school the last school bell for the year is often welcomed. Parents and teachers, however, have different concerns. They know that over the summer many children will forget information taught during the school year. This is especially true for children with special needs.

Parents want to make certain children retain what has been learned. They also want children to have fun. More and more we are learning how important play is to children. It develops social skills, imagination, and abstract thinking. Children with special needs often can show their strengths in games or non-school related activities. And, parents need to find summer programs that meet real world work schedules. How can parents accomplish everything the school did each day. Parents must work.

Parents also must deal with issues of letting go. When a child has a disability this can sometimes be more difficult. "Can my child make friends in a new situation without me to help each day?" It is hard to navigate between protection and separation. Yet, as children learn they can be successful away from the parent they also achieve positive self-esteem.

Deciding on the best summer program for children with special needs requires planning. Many options exist. A child's strengths are important parts of the decision process. This is a time when children can build self-esteem. Before you begin, plan to talk with your children. Know their interests. Involve them, if at all possible, in the decision making process.

important information for parents of transitioning youth age 18-21 with developmental disabilities

Click Statewide Transition Plan under Documents to the right of this page.