Who We Are

A- A+

About Special Kids (ASK) is Indiana’s Parent to Parent organization that works throughout the state to give support, answer questions and provide information and resources to families of children with special needs. ASK staff are extensively and continually trained as well as parents of children with special needs; therefore, we can help other families and professionals understand the various systems that families encounter related to special needs.  ASK has a parent liaison in each region of the state with our central office location in Indianapolis.

ASK’s mission: Helping children with special needs live better lives by educating, empowering and connecting their families.

We define children with special needs as children with:

  • Physical, mental, emotional disabilities
  • Developmental delays
  • Chronic or terminal illnesses
  • Mental health concerns
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Learning disabilities and educational delays
  • Children who have risk factors or who are showing signs of a suspected disability

As a parent, once you make contact with ASK you will be connected with a staff parent liaison who is trained extensively and an experienced parent of a child with special needs. Parent liaisons focus on teaching families how to anticipate child and family needs, identify appropriate resources, and access community systems to help them meet the needs of their children.  Additionally, ASK’s parent liaisons follow up with each family that contacts us. So...even if there is something that you forget to address during that first call you make, you will have plenty of contact with your liaison to answer your questions and anticipate future needs.
 
To get connected to a parent liaison, please call 800-964-4746 or click here
For a list of Frequently Asked Questions, please click here.
 

History

ASK was incorporated as the Indiana Parent Information Network (IPIN) in 1987 by two parents and two professionals who represented the perspectives of a family of a child with developmental disability, a family of a child with serious chronic illness, a professional in medical social services, and a professional in special education. The founders and their families provided the initial funding for the organization. ASK (then IPIN) received its first grant on July 1, 1990 to train parents of children with special needs to be partners on First Steps Local Interagency Coordinating Councils. On October 1, 1990, ASK received its first federal grant from Maternal and Child Health Bureau to implement the Indiana Parent Education Project. This project set the foundation for a statewide network of families trained as Parent Liaisons to provide information, support, and training to other families. ASK continues to provide information, peer support and training to parents and professionals throughout Indiana.

ASK offers families parent to parent support, training on issues around special education and insurance programs, and information and referral to community resources throughout the state of Indiana. ASK’s funding comes through corporate and private donations, foundation grants and state and federal grants. ASK serves families and professionals using a parent to parent model, as every parent liaison and half of the board of directors have children with special needs. Since our staff have personally dealt with issues in many of the systems that serve children with special needs, their personal experience and expertise gives qualified support and guidance to the parents coming to ASK to seek assistance.

Milestones in ASK's History

Date Milestone
1987    Founding and incorporation of ASK (then The Indiana Parent Information Network).
1990 ASK received first grant to train parents of children and special needs to be partners on First Steps Local Interagency Coordinating Councils.
1990 Received first federal grant from Maternal and Child Health Bureau to implement the Indiana Parent Education Project.
1991 Published first Directory of Indiana Parent Leaders of Children with Disabilities and Chronic Illness.
1994 Introduced Parent Liaison Training program for families of children with special needs, thanks to grant from Indianapolis Public Schools.
1994 Launched initiative to produce computerized central directory of Indiana's First Steps Early Intervention System. Introduced CD version in 2003.
1998 Developed model that promotes medical homes for Indianapolis area children with special health care needs. Created model through collaboration with Wishard Health Services / North Arlington Community Health Center and the Indiana University School of Medicine.
2003 ASK celebrates 15 years of service to families of children with special needs and professionals in Indiana
2003 ASK receives funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to become Indiana’s Family to Family Health Care Information Center
2004 ASK launches its website www.aboutspecialkids.org, including the new on-line, searchable Resource Directory
2006 ASK receives funding from the United States Department of Education to become a Community Parent Resource Center (with a focus on the near east side of Indianapolis)
2007 ASK celebrates 20 years of service to Indiana families and professionals!
2007 ASK receives a contract with Indiana University to expand, implement and evaluate the Family to Family Network as part of First Steps’ Unified training systems. This allowed ASK to expand its reach by following First Steps’ Statewide Clusters and placing Parent Liaisons in each cluster.
2009 ASK signs a contract with MDwise to provide care coordination services to its members. This contract greatly increases the socio-economic and culturally diverse clients ASK is able to serve.
2010 ASK signs a contract with Anthem Hoosier Healthwise to provide care coordination services to its members. This contract greatly increases the socio-economic and culturally diverse clients ASK is able to serve.
2010 ASK trainings expanded to include on-line trainings and webinars thanks to the generosity of the Indiana Bar Association and an anonymous donor.
2011 ASK signs a contract with Managed Health Services (MHS) to provide care coordination services to its members. This contract greatly increases the socio-economic and culturally diverse clients ASK is able to serve.
2012 ASK celebrates 25 years of service to Indiana families and professionals.
2013 ASK receives a $150,000 capacity building grant from Lilly Endowment.

In 2013, ASK served more than 3,000 new families. ASK has served approximately 45,000 families and professionals since 1987. We make a difference in Indiana by:
 
  • Connecting families who have children with a certain disability or chronic health condition to appropriate support groups.
  • Educating families on various public health insurance options available.
  • Training families on the rules & regulations of Indiana’s special education law.
  • Finding childcare options for kids with special needs.
   

Projects

To help achieve our mission ASK collaborates with strategic partners to help further the interests and needs of families we serve.
 
Indiana Parent Education Project
As previously mentioned, ASK staff provide families of children with special needs information and referral to community resources, training and education and parent to parent support.  A unique aspect of this project is the follow-up support that is given to families after they contact ASK.  Follow-up calls are scheduled to cover information for families on pertinent topics such as special education, health care financing, respite, childcare and the medical home.

Another very important aspect of the education project is that ASK also provides information and trainings for professionals who work with children with special needs and their families.  ASK has tailored a workshop called “What Every Parent Want You to Know” which provides the professional a unique insight into the daily lives, routines, stresses and history of a family of a child with special needs.  The goal is to let the professional understand the family’s perspectives and to use this insight to help address accommodations the child will need to be as successful as possible in a variety of settings.
 
Community Pediatrics Training Initiative
In collaboration with the Indiana University School of Medicine, ASK is one of three community based organizations that provides community learning experiences for pediatric residents in the Indiana University medical education program at Indiana University Health.  The project focuses on populations of children with special health care needs who are defined as children with disabilities and serious chronic illness, Hispanic children whose parents speak English as a second language, and children who are victims of domestic violence. This project is changing the way pediatric residents are trained to work with community organizations in meeting the needs of children with special needs and their families through site visits, interactions with families and children, and special projects.
 
Care Coordination Projects

ASK has a partnership with MDwise, a Medicaid managed care organizations (MCO) in order to provide premium service to their member families who have children with special needs. ASK is pleased that this program has grown from one MCO to several care coordination entities throughout the state. ASK currently provides care coordination services to participants and their families. Children and youth with chronic illnesses or disability often have complex medical, educational, social and vocational needs that require a wide range of services. The number of providers and agencies involved can be overwhelming to the family. ASK staff are available to assist families in their efforts to understand the medical home concept and to ensure that the child receives appropriate, comprehensive family-centered care.

ASK provides intensive services to families of children with special needs in conjunction with medical and behavioral case management received from these organizations. The range of services ASK provides includes information & referral to community resources, 1 on 1 training regarding health care financing and education options, and parent to parent support. ASK also educates the care coordination personnel about community resources, education, health care financing options and disability issues. The goal is to one day expand this project to include private health insurance companies.

Return to the top of the page