Bakersfield, California, is a city found almost exactly between Fresno and Los Angeles; each are about 100 miles from Bakersfield (Fresno to the north, Los Angeles to the south).
Though too far from these cities to take advantage of their special education resources, parents, teachers and students seeking special education support and information can find several organizations within Bakersfield to meet their needs. These organizations include mainly educational institutions and nonprofit agencies.
Educational Resources for Special Needs Professionals and Families
The Bakersfield City School District provides speech, language and physical therapy services to special education students. On the school’s website, teachers will find links to procedural safeguards, special education curriculum information and IEP preparation forms. Parents can access links to a special education handbook as well as information about the Community Advisory Committee, which holds meetings addressing a variety of special education topics such as intervention strategies and support services.
The Kern County Consortium Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) consists of 44 schools districts and three charter schools and is based in Bakersfield. The SELPA offers parent training through workshops and a video library. It also oversees an Early Start program. In addition, personnel development programs are offered.
The Stockdale Learning Center provides educational therapy services for children with learning disabilities. The center will run diagnostic testing and employ intervention techniques. Advocacy services and workshops for parents are also offered here.
Recreational, Legal and Support Resources for Special Education Students and Parents
From awareness programs to social skills development, a few organizations based in Bakersfield focus on support for special education families. Some of these organizations focus on specific developmental or learning disorders, while others have broad programs that encompass more than one disability.
The Kern Autism Network, an affiliate chapter of the Autism Society, hosts monthly family and sibling support group meetings and workshops to help children build social skills as well as an annual Autism Awareness Conference.
Bakersfield’s Valley Achievement Center has an afterschool program and a social skills program for autistic children. It also operates an Early Start program for pre-schoolers, which includes behavior analysis and transition planning.
H.E.A.R.T.S. Connection Family Resource Center in Bakersfield offers parents support workshops, mentoring and assistance with IEP development. There’s also fun, social events for special needs children and their families, an educational program using puppets for 4th-grade students to help them understand about learning and developmental disorders, and activities for siblings of special education children.
Bakersfield is also home to the Society for Disabled Children, which supplies speech and language therapy and social activities which could include games, pasta dinners, rock wall climbing and even flying. The Society also oversees a summer camp for children with disabilities.
For legal support and advice, special education parents in Bakersfield can turn to California Special Needs Law Group (CSNLG). CSNLG can assist parents with Individual Education Plan (IEP) development and help to mediate disputes between special education parents and school systems. Their services are available throughout the state.