Building A Community

Our Building a Community section is intended to share information about organizations and services that are available to support children and families. Check back frequently as we continue to update with new entries.

African American History Month

Every February, communities in Nevada and across the country celebrate African American History Month. While this is a time of celebration, it is also an opportunity to understand the unique experiences that African Americans may have regarding mental health. For example, African Americans are more likely to experience psychological distress, but receive treatment less frequently than the general population. Some key issues that impact access to mental health care include: provider bias & inequality of care, lack of information about mental health, faith & spirituality, reluctance or inability to access mental health services. Creating inclusive communities to combat these issues can begin with learning more about African American History.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

Does your child or youth struggle with anxiety? If so, your family is not alone. Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health concerns in the US.In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), a national nonprofit organization, estimates that 32% of youth ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder. There are resources available to support your child or youth and family. If you are in Southern Nevada, you may reach out to the UNLV Child School Refusal and Anxiety Clinic, which offers outpatient services on a sliding fee scale. In Northern Nevada, UNR offers outpatient services on a sliding fee scale at its Downing Counseling Clinic.

Autism Resources for Families

Nationally, since 1965, the Autism Society in partnership with our over 100 local and state affiliates has supported millions of individuals and families impacted by autism. The Autism Society envisions individuals and families living with autism are able to maximize their quality of life, are treated with the highest level of dignity, and live in a society in which their talents and skills are appreciated and valued.

Northern NV

The Northern NV chapter, of the Autism Society has been in operation since 1993. The local chapter helps support regional groups who assist Northern Nevada Autism families, by distributing donation funds and information. Another northern NV resource is the JUSTin HOPE Foundation that provides information and support to families who have a child with autism.

Click here to visit the Northern Nevada Autism Support Alliance

Click here to visit the JUSTin HOPE Foundation

Southern NV

Families for Effective Autism Treatment. (FEAT) is a non-profit organization of parents and professionals, designed to help families with children who have received the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They provide support, encouragement, and guidance to parents and create an opportunity for them to benefit from contact with other parents with similar needs and concerns. Another resource, Grant a Gift Autism Foundation is a non-profit organization helping children, youth and their families fight Autism by providing diagnostic and treatment funding, support services, vocational training, transition planning, and education.

Click here to visit Families for Effective Autism Treatment

Click here to visit the Grant a Gift Autism Foundation

Elko NV

Northern Nevada Autism Network was established in 2005 to help families in Elko County affected by autism. The goal of Northern Nevada Autism Network is to increase autism awareness and access to treatment.

Click here to visit the Northern Nevada Autism Network

Best Buddies

Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant, international organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,700 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Best Buddies programs engage participants in each of the 50 United States, and in 50 countries around the world.

Best Buddies Logo

In five short years, Best Buddies Nevada has educated and informed thousands of school-age children through assemblies and one-to-one meetings with educators and families about the Best Buddies movement. There are untold numbers of youth poised to befriend their peers with disabilities. Beyond school-based programs, our participants are supported in developing friendships through our adult friendship program. The mission of Best Buddies is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Click here to learn about their statewide programs for Nevada

Click here to learn more about the Best Buddies national program

Centers for Independent Living

Centers for independent living (CILs) are private, nonprofit corporations that provide services to maximize the independence of individuals with disabilities and the accessibility of the communities they live in. According to the National Center On Independent Living, CIL’s serve all ages. Centers are funded in part by the Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Independent Living Branch, to provide, among other things, several core services:

  • Advocacy
  • Independent living skills training
  • Information and referral
  • Peer counseling

Southern Nevada Centers for Independent Living
6039 Eldora Ave., Ste. H-8
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Phone: 702-889-4216
Toll Free: (800) 870-7003
Fax: (702) 889-4574

Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living
999 Pyramid Way
Sparks, NV 89431
Phone: 775-353-3599
Fax: 775-353-3588

Northern Nevada Centers for Independent Living – Elko Office
331 N 7th Street
Elko, NV 89801
Phone 775-753-4300
Fax 775-753-4366

Click here to learn more about the Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living

Click here to learn more about the Southern Nevada Centers for Independent Living

Disability Resource Centers in Nevada’s Colleges

More and more high school students with disabilities are planning to continue their education in postsecondary schools, including vocational and career schools, two- and four- year colleges, and universities. Both students and parents will find it important to be well informed about students’ rights and responsibilities as well as the postsecondary schools responsibilities. Often they are called Disability Resource Centers. To learn more about these rights and responsibilities Click Here . . . All colleges that receive federal funds are required to have a office that responds to requests for accommodations.

In Nevada, the following colleges have Disability Resource Centers and they encourage students to visit their center during their admissions, or school visit, to find out more about their services. Please Click the links below to visit their websites.

University of Nevada Las Vegas Disability Resource Center

University of Nevada Reno Disability Resource Center

Nevada State College Disability Resource Center

Truckee Meadows College Disability Resource Center

College of Southern Nevada Disability Resource Center

Great Basin College Office of Services for Students with Disabilities Disability Resource Center

Western Nevada College Disability Support Services

Early Learning Initiatives

U. S. Department of Education – Early Learning Initiatives
The goal for early learning is to improve the health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes for all children from birth through 3rd grade, so that all children, particularly those with high needs and or disabilities, are on track for graduating from high school college- and career-ready. ED is engaged in many efforts to strengthen the quality and availability of early learning programs, here are a few of the key early learning initiatives.
Click here to visit the U.S. Department’s Early Learning Web Site
Click here to learn more about their early learning initiatives

Nevada Department of Education – The Office of Early Learning and Development
The focus of the Office of Early Learning and Development is to coordinate birth-3rd grade state level work in collaboration with the Nevada Early Childhood Advisory Council and to improve access and quality of early childhood programs across a variety of settings. The office coordinates state level P-3 reform efforts, which are part of a national initiative to transform how children ages 0 to 8 learn.
Click here to learn more about the Nevada Department of Education Office of Early Learning and Development
Click here to learn more about the Nevada Early Childhood Advisory Council

Food Banks

Many families struggle to keep food on the table. This is where Food Banks in our local communities shine the brightest in a time of need.

Southern Nevada and Rural Southern Nevada:
Three Square
Southern Nevada Emergency Food Assistance

Northern Nevada and Rural Northern Nevada:
Food Bank of Northern Nevada
Northern Nevada Emergency Food Assistance

Mental Health and Native American Youth

In early November, Nevada PEP participated in the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and Owyhee Community Health Facility 2019 Health Fair. This health fair was particularly important because Native American youth experience physical health, mental health, and substance abuse challenges at much higher rates than non-Native American youth. To help address this, the Indian Health Service funds 12 Youth Regional Treatment Centers (YRTCs) around the country to provide Native American youth with culturally competent services. The YRTC located in Nevada is called Nevada Skies Youth Wellness Center, about 30 miles east of Reno. Although Nevada Skies is only for male youth in need of residential treatment, there are many other federal and community resources available for Native American Youth with mental health concerns. Visit the SAMHSA website to learn more.

National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health

The 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) Youth Mental Health found that roughly 40% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months, and 71% of LGBTQ youth had feelings of sadness or hopelessness for at least two weeks in the past 12 months. These are just two of the reasons that a broad array of community-based services and supports for all children and youth are important.

The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada “The Center” and Our Center in Northern Nevada are community-based organizations that offer resources and programming to support youth and families. Nationally, the Trevor Project, which sponsored the National Survey, offers resources and support for LGBTQ youth through a hotline, chat, text, social networking site, and online information.

Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center

The Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System and Client Assistance Program (CAP) is part of a nationwide network of congressionally mandated, legally based disability rights agencies. A P&A/CAP agency exists in every U.S. state and territory. Nevada has a Protection and Advocacy group that is known as Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center (NDALC). This statewide center is a private non-profit organization that serves as Nevada’s federally-mandated protection and advocacy system for human, legal, and service rights for individuals with disabilities.

Click here to visit the Nevada Disability Advocacy & Law Center

Click here to learn more about Protection and Advocacy and Client Assistance Programs Nationally

Nevada Legal Services

The national Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. LSC promotes equal access to justice by providing funding to 133 independent non-profit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. LSC grantees serve thousands of low-income individuals, children, families, seniors, and veterans in 813 offices in every congressional district. Nevada Legal Services (NLS) is the Nevada designee of the Legal Services Corporation. NLS provides free civil law legal assistance to eligible clients. NLS is a statewide, nonprofit public interest law firm funded by grants from the Legal Services Corporation, the Nevada Bar Foundation, and other state, federal, and private grants. Eligibility usually depends on income level.

National Legal Services Corporation
Nevada Legal Services Incorporated

Post-Secondary College Programs

More students with intellectual disabilities are finding opportunities to attend college as their families are demonstrating high expectations and recognizing the importance to continue building skills after high school.
Often, families are looking for different ways to increase self determination, self-advocacy and independent living skills in inclusive settings.

Think College provides a model, resources, training and information to support the growth of Post Secondary College Programs across the nation. States that are interested in developing programs utilize the Think College website resources as a guide to establish and build these programs.

Click here to visit Think College

Nevada has two programs that are based on the Think College model and practices and accept individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

Northern Nevada
Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities Program Path to Independence which is located at University of Nevada-Reno campus Path to Independence is an NCED program through the Extended Studies Department at UNR. The program began in 2013 with one student in fall semester 2013. In fall semester 2014, one more student was added.

Click here to learn more about the Path to Independence program.
View this video for more information about the pilot project and their first student.

Southern Nevada
Project F.O.C.U.S. (Forming Occupational and Community Understanding for Success) which is located at University of Nevada-Las Vegas campus. This program started with their first student in September 2014. The purpose of Project F.O.C.U.S. is to provide an inclusive, accessible, and productive career education program for college aged students with Intellectual Disabilities in the Las Vegas valley that promotes self-determination, community engagement and partnerships, job readiness and transitions to adulthood through person-centered planning, inclusive teaching, evidence-based research, and positive behavior supports.

Click here to visit their website for more information.

State Advisory Panels

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that each State establish and maintain an advisory panel for the purpose of advising the State special education staff regarding the education of eligible children with disabilities. Federal regulations define the responsibilities of State Advisory Panels as follows:

  • Advise the State of unmet needs in the education of children with disabilities.
  • Comment publicly on any rules or regulations proposed by the State regarding the education of children with disabilities.
  • Provide advice to the State staff in developing evaluations and reporting on data to the Secretary of Education.
  • Advise the State in developing corrective action plans to address findings identified in Federal monitoring.
  • Advise the State in developing and implementing policies relating to the coordination of services for children with disabilities.
  • Review all final due process officer findings and decisions

Nevada’s State Advisory Panel is called Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). Parents and professionals are among the required members.

Click here to learn more about the committee’s work.

Aging and Disability Resource Centers

Nevada’s Care Connection Aging and Disability Resource Centers are a “no wrong door”, single point of entry into the long term services and supports system. The philosophy of the ADRC program is to make sure consumers and their families have accurate information about their choices in their communities, and can easily access programs and benefits for which they qualify.

Nationally, ADRC programs have taken important steps towards meeting Administration on Aging and Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s vision by:

  • Creating a person-centered, community-based environment that promotes independence and dignity for individuals
  • Providing easy access to information and one-on-one counseling to assist consumers in exploring a full range of long-term support options
  • Providing resources and services that support the needs of family caregivers.

Click here to Visit Nevada’s Care Connection Aging and Disability Resource Center

Assistive Technology Improving Access

National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership’s (NATTAP) 56 state and territory programs are funded under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended. State Assistive Technology Act programs work to improve the provision of assistive technology to individuals with disabilities of all ages through comprehensive statewide programs of technology-related assistance. Additionally, the programs support activities designed to maximize the ability of individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, and advocates to access and obtain assistive technology devices and services. Key Activities of Assistive Technology Projects are:

  • Device Loan Programs
  • Device Reutilization Programs
  • Device Demonstration Program
  • State Financing Activities

Nevada’s assistive technology project is called The Nevada Special Education Technology Assistance Project (NSETAP) and was established by the Special Education Branch of the Nevada Department of Education. The Project’s purpose is to provide resources to school districts for making informed decisions regarding assistive technology devices and/or services which meet state and federal mandates.

The Project provides a range of services to education agencies, parents, and the professionals that serve students with disabilities.

Click here to learn more about the services the project provides.

Behavioral Health Integration

As a parent, it can be a challenge to figure out whether your child has a mental health condition or is experiencing typical behavioral changes. However, early identification of a mental illness can have a positive impact on the health of your child and your family. One way to increase early identification and overall access to services is through Behavioral Health Integration (BHI). BHI happens when pediatricians look for signs of a mental illness and refer families to children’s mental health resources. If your child has Medicaid, he/she should be getting one form of BHI – Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT). The EPSDT includes a Developmental and Behavioral Screening. Your child may receive this Medicaid benefit through:

Southern Nevada
Anthem BlueCross BlueShield
Health Plan of Nevada
Silver Summit Health Plan

Northern or Rural Nevada
Nevada Medicaid

Information Links
Behavioral Health Integration Factsheet
Medicaid EPSDT Benefit Fact Sheet
Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!

Bookshare®

Bookshare® provides the world’s largest online library of accessible reading materials for people with print disabilities. Individuals can sign up for membership and access the library on their own. Organizations that serve individuals with print disabilities (schools, libraries, community centers, etc.) can sign up and provide access to their students or clients. A Bookshare membership offers unlimited access to accessible books, textbooks, newspapers and magazines. Additionally, free access to technology makes it easy to read books with a computer.

Through an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Bookshare offers free memberships to U.S. schools and qualifying U.S. students. Contact your child’s school for more information on how to get started or click here for more information!

Charter Schools

Nevada Charter Schools are public schools funded by the state. As public schools, charter schools have the opportunity and obligation to serve students with disabilities. The responsibility to make a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) available to all students with disabilities applies to all public schools including charter schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Click here to visit the Nevada Department of Education charter school page
Click here for The Facts on Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities
Click here to visit the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority

Down Syndrome Organization

The mission of the National Down Syndrome Society is to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The NDSS National Policy Center was founded in 2005 as the NDSS advocacy arm to support our mission to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. Our National Policy Center facilitates and mobilizes advocacy efforts for federal, state, and local policies that positively impact people with Down syndrome across the country.
Click here to learn more about the National Down Syndrome Society

Southern Nevada
The mission of the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada is to enlighten the public by promoting a positive understanding of Down syndrome in the community and be a source of support, information and education for families and individuals affected by Down syndrome.
Click here to learn more about the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada

Northern Nevada
Our mission is to create a positive understanding of Down syndrome. We provide events, information, education and awareness as we advocate for full community inclusion of people with Down syndrome and their families.
Click here to learn more about the Down Syndrome Network of Northern Nevada

Expanding Your Circle of Support Through Mentoring

What do parents, grandparents, friends, classmates, coaches, and faith leaders all have in common? Experts call them natural supports and they are people in your life who can offer collaboration, dignity and respect, and care. Together, they form your Circle of Support. One way to expand your youth’s circle of support is through mentoring. January is National Mentoring Month, and the National Mentoring Partnership has resources with information about mentoring, which as many benefits for youth in general and specifically for youth with mental health concerns. You can even search for a mentor in your local community.

In Nevada, there are many opportunities to develop mentor relationships and expand your youth’s Circle of Support across the state such as:

Head Start and Early Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start programs promote school readiness for economically disadvantaged children by enhancing their social and cognitive development through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services. Head Start programs serve children ages 3-5 and their families. Early Head Start programs serve pregnant women and children birth to 3 and their families. The federal Office of Head Start (OHS) provides grants to operate both Head Start and Early Head Start programs directly to public and private agencies in Nevada. Programs engage parents in their children’s learning and help them in making progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals. Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start programs.
Click here to find a Head Start near you

Head Start regulations require that at least 10 percent of enrolled children are children with disabilities. Each Head Start program is responsible for establishing selection criteria and may include children with disabilities from families that have incomes above the Poverty Guidelines, in addition to enrolling children from families with incomes below the Poverty Guidelines. To learn more how children with disabilities are included in Head Start Programs, click here.

National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the oldest, largest, and most influential nationwide membership organization of blind people in the United States. Founded in 1940, the NFB advocates for the civil rights and equality of blind Americans, and develops innovative education, technology, and training programs to provide the blind and those who are losing vision with the tools they need to become independent and successful. The National Federation of the Blind is doing this by providing public education about blindness, information and referral services, scholarships, literature and publications about blindness, aids and appliances and other adaptive equipment for the blind, advocacy services and protection of civil rights, employment assistance and support services, development and evaluation of technology, and support for blind persons and their families. Nevada has statewide affiliates in Henderson, Las Vegas and Reno that help families find resources and information.

Click here to visit the National Federation for the Blind

Click here to visit theNevada chapter of the National Federation of the Blind

Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities

The NCED serves as Nevada’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). The UCEDDs were established and funded by the Developmental Disabilities Rights Assistance and Rights Act (DD Act). UCEDDs work to accomplish a shared vision that foresees a nation in which all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, participate fully in their communities. Independence, productivity and community inclusion are key components of this vision. The Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities (NCED) is located in the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno and serves as Nevada’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). The UCEDDs were established and funded by the Developmental Disabilities Rights Assistance and Rights Act (DD Act). UCEDDs work to accomplish a shared vision that foresees a nation in which all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, participate fully in their communities. Independence, productivity and community inclusion are key components of this vision. The DD Act funds 67 Centers at universities in every state and territory. The Nevada Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (NvLEND) improves the health of infants, children, and adolescents with autism and other disabilities by preparing practicing professionals, parents, and graduate trainees from diverse professional disciplines to assume leadership roles in their respective fields and by developing high levels of interdisciplinary clinical competence. LEND programs consider family and consumers a discipline. Consequently, parents/family members of children with disabilities and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply to participate in the training

Click here to visit the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities

Click here to visit the Nevada Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities

Nevada Division of Child and Family Services

The Nevada Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) was awarded a $12 million System of Care grant for children’s mental health across the state. As the official parent partner for the Nevada System of Care, Nevada PEP will work with DCFS to improve access to services that are family-driven and youth-guided statewide, with an emphasis on Rural Nevada. System of Care follows a set of values and principles for families to access the services and supports that they need within their communities. Nationally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SMHSA) has published the Family Guide to Systems of Care for Children’s with Mental Health Needs with information on questions to ask and what to expect when getting services in a System of Care.

Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment

This office was created in 2015 and is housed within the Nevada Department of Education. The mission of the Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment is to train, empower, educate, collaborate, advocate and intervene in order to ensure that every student in Nevada, regardless of any differing characteristic or interest feels fully protected physically, emotionally, and socially. If a family does not feel that the district has addressed a bullying incident, they can file a formal complaint with the Nevada Department of Education.

Click here to learn about Nevada’s Bully Free Zone 
Click here to Visit the National School Climate Center
Click here to visit StopBullying.gov
Click here to visit the Office for Safe and Respectful Learning Environments

Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities

If families are concerned about their infant or toddler’s development, or suspect that their little one has a disability, services from early intervention provider can help a child learn many key skills to help meet their developmental milestones. The Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, Part C of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), is a federal grant program that assists states in operating a comprehensive statewide program of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, ages birth through age 2 years, and their families. In order for a state to participate in the program it must assure that early intervention will be available to every eligible child and its family. The federal law, IDEA Part C, requires states including Nevada to provide quality services that meet the individual needs of eligible infants and toddlers.

Click here to find out more about early intervention services from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services

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