Are you moving to Texas? Thinking about it? Welcome!
If you have a child with a disability or special health care needs, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect. You may want to know about your child’s insurance, medical care, services, school, equipment, and more.
Any change is hard, especially a big move. And every state is different. Not all types of services are in all states. So we’ve talked to other parents. Here is some advice to get you ready.
Other parents of children with disabilities or special health care needs often say how much it has helped them to find other parents like them. Sometimes, they found them in person. But in a big state like Texas, there are other ways to feel less alone. Online groups and parents you can connect with by phone or text are also available.
Other parents might have tips, ideas, and answers for you. They might be on the same journey you’re on. They might know what doctor or specialist you can visit. They might know who to contact at a certain program. They might know who to call if your child isn’t getting the services they need. They can be there to listen. If you don’t know many people in Texas, check out our connecting with other parents page for ideas on where to start.
There are some statewide organizations that serve or support people with disabilities that you should know about. Some of those – Texas Parent to Parent, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Easterseals of Central Texas, and Autism Society of Texas – connect parents with each other and with resources, groups, events, and more.
We asked parents who moved here to share their surprises and challenges.
They talked about nice weather, friendliness, and how other parents helped them out. They talked about long waiting lists. They said it was hard at times to find the right services for their kids. Programs may have different names here. Some parents were surprised by how their Medicaid or other services changed when they moved. Sometimes they had to start over on waiting lists. They had to find new doctors and specialists.
Here are some parent quotes that stood out:
“We love the weather here. It’s warmer. I don’t miss cleaning snow off of my son’s wheelchair!”
“I talk to a lot of parents about getting plugged in. Here, the waiting lists are so much longer – 10 years or more. You really have to be ready to manage insurance and services on your own.”
“We had to start all over on waiting lists and learn a new alphabet soup of program names and acronyms.”
“It feels more like a community here. People have been more accepting in a lot of ways and it’s ok to have kids that are different. I’ve found it to be very family friendly.”
Texas has a number of services and programs for people with disabilities and special health care needs. Here is a list to help you get started:
Even if your child is part of a federal program (one that’s offered across the country) like Medicaid or a Medicaid waiver program, you’ll need to sign up again when you get to Texas. These services do not just transfer. Each state has its own rules and lists.
In Texas, we call our waiting lists “interest lists”. The interest lists to get services through Medicaid waiver programs are long. Sometimes it takes 10 to 18 years. It’s important to sign up right away, as soon as you’re living here.
When it comes to education, children with disabilities and special health care needs have legal rights that every state has to follow. Our Special Education 101 page and our Education and Schools section have more information about these laws, your child’s rights, and how things work in Texas.
Here are a few more things to know about moving and the special education process here:
Texas isn’t like anywhere else. We do things in our own way. Our services, community programs, and the many other parents living here can help you settle in, find your way, and feel some of that Texas friendliness.
Sign up for Medicaid waiver interest (waiting) lists right away, they can be long! See our page on the Medicaid waiver programs to learn how to sign up.