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Special Needs

Children With Special Needs & Disabilities: Programs In Baltimore

Disabled Girl Playing Basketball

As a parent, you always want to do what’s best for your child—make the right decisions, ensure they have all of the support they need, and take advantage of all available opportunities. When your child has special needs this can be even more overwhelming. To make things a bit easier, we’ve put together a list of resources available for children, teens, and young adults with disabilities and their families in the Baltimore area.

 

Jewish Preschool

JEWELS Preschool
5713-B Park Heights Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21215
(410) 415-3515
Serving children ages 2 – 6 years, JEWELS educates children with special needs alongside typically developing children. Each classroom includes approximately 40% children with special needs and 60% typically developing students and incorporates a multi-sensory approach to learning with daily sensory experiences. Special needs students receive therapeutic services and assessments including special education, speech, and occupational and physical therapies.

All of Baltimore’s Jewish preschools strive to accommodate children of all abilities. Click here for a list of Jewish preschools in the Baltimore area. Please contact each preschool individually to determine whether it best suits your family’s needs.

Jewish Educational Experiences

J Town – Sensory Friendly Play
Weinberg Park Heights JCC
5700 Park Heights Ave
Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 500-5917
jtown@jcc.org
J Town, Baltimore’s indoor, Jewish play space and the home of PJ Library, has sensory-friendly playtime on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 1 – 2 p.m. A sensory-friendly space is available for children who might need a quiet, calming area. J Town is a collaborative project of the Macks Center for Jewish Education and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore.

Gesher LaTorah
5708 Park Heights Ave
Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 735-5022
rturniansky@cjebaltimore.org
The Macks Center for Jewish Education’s community-based special education program for students with significant special needs between the ages of 4 – 5 to adult. Participants are introduced to Jewish holidays, prayers, the Hebrew language, and Jewish life cycle events. Gesher LaTorah serves individuals with special needs including autism, developmental disabilities, language disabilities, and physical challenges.

Meir Hebrew School @ Beth Tfiloh
3300 Old Court Rd
Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 526-9995
rjacobs@btfiloh.org
A weekly Hebrew School program serving children ages 6-10 with language-based learning disabilities housed within the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.

Y’rushalim @ Congregation Beth El Baltimore
8101 Park Heights Ave
Baltimore, MD 21208
(410) 484-0411
fran@bethelbalto.com
Part of the Berman-Lipavsky Religious School at Congregation Beth El Baltimore, Y’rushalim seeks to provide a meaningful and appropriate Jewish experience for children with disabilities. Utilizing IEPs and teachers who have significant experience with supporting children with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities, the program serves children who need extra assistance or a different type of Jewish educational setting.

BINA (Beth Israel’s New Achievers)
Beth Israel Congregation
3706 Crondall Lane
Owings Mills, MD 21117
(410) 654-0800 x215
rblatt@bethisrael-om.org
Part of Beth Israel Congregation’s Community Learning Lab, BINA meets on Sunday mornings and includes music, hands-on projects, holiday experiences, and opportunities for inclusion in school-wide programs.

Yachad Baltimore
Part of the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, Yachad is dedicated to enhancing the life opportunities of individuals with disabilities and ensuring their participation in the full spectrum of Jewish life. Yachad’s Baltimore chapter organizes monthly social and recreational activities. For more information, contact baltimoreyachad@ou.org.

Menucha
(410) 764-2955
A kosher respite and Jewish immersion program, Menucha offers weekend and weekday programs for children with special needs and their families. Programs include in-home caregivers, evening and weekday programs, Shabbatons (weekend retreats), mini-camps during school vacations, support groups and social programming for parents, and programs for siblings. For more information, contact menuchainc@gmail.com.

After School/Enrichment Programs

JCC Inclusion Programs
Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC

3506 Gwynnbrook Ave
Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 549-3576
srubinstein@jcc.org
Kids Center After School Program
Children in grades K – 5 with varying abilities are mainstreamed into the JCC after school program and paired one-on-one with counselors to assist with the inclusion process. The JCC Special Needs department works with each family to create a successful plan for inclusion.
School’s Out
School’s Out provides children in grades K – 5 with a structured, safe, and fun atmosphere during school vacations and weather-related closings. Support for participants with special needs is provided, limited space available.

Shabbat & Holiday Services/Programs

Shabbat Shalom Dinners
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation

7401 Park Heights Ave
Baltimore, MD 21208
Adults with special needs are invited to dinner gatherings held several times a year prior to Shabbat evening services. Coordinated in partnership with the Jewish Community Center’s Special Needs department. For more information and upcoming dates, contact Sara Rubinstein at srubinstein@jcc.org or (410) 559-3576.

Minyan Meyuchad
Congregation Beth Tfiloh

2300 Old Court Rd
Baltimore, MD 21208
A monthly Shabbat service and High Holiday services for individuals with special needs. For more information and upcoming dates contact Cherie Brownstein at csbrownstein@btfiloh.org.

Torah Sparks/Sensory Shabbat
Congregation Beth El

8101 Park Heights Ave
Baltimore, MD 21208
A sensory-friendly Shabbat service beginning with time to meet the leaders of the service and explore and acclimate to the sanctuary. Fidgets, snacks, and assistive devices are welcome, kiddush to follow. For more information and upcoming dates, please contact faith@bethelbalto.com.

Jewish Day & Overnight Camps

Jewish day and overnight camps provide campers with unforgettable memories as well as a fun and informal introduction to Jewish concepts and culture. There are several camps in and around the Baltimore area that serve children with special needs. All camps require individual intakes in order to determine whether the camp is a good fit and able to appropriately meet the needs of each camper. Please contact each camp individually for more information.

Need a bit more guidance? For a free, individualized camp consultation, please contact Janna Zuckerman at the Center for Jewish Camping at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore at (410) 369-9237 or by email at jzuckerman@associated.org.

Day Camps

J Camps Inclusion Program
The Inclusion Program is available at most JCC of Baltimore camps and is designed for campers in grades K – 6 with a range of learning, developmental, social, emotional, and physical disabilities. Campers join bunks with their typical peers and participate in all camp activities, including instructional and recreational swim. Participants are paired on a one-on-one or two-to-one basis with specially trained staff supervised by the JCC Special Needs department. All applicants must complete a personal interview in order to determine whether the program will meet the individual needs of each prospective camper. For more information, contact Sara Rubinstein at srubinstein@jcc.org or (410) 559-3576.

Camp Klal
Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
3506 Gwynnbrook Ave
Baltimore, MD 21215
A self-contained camp program focusing on recreational and vocational activities serving young adults ages 15-26 with learning, developmental, social, emotional, and physical disabilities. The program includes a communication program with a life skills specialist and vocational training with practical lessons. A highlight of the program is a camper-run café serving family members and JCC staff. Each camper must go through an intake process prior to registering for the program. For more information, contact Sara Rubinstein at srubinstein@jcc.org or (410) 559-3576.

Overnight Camps

Camp Ramah in the Poconos – Tikvah Program
2618 Upper Woods Rd
Lakewood, PA
orleek@ramahpoconos.org
Winter Contact: (215) 885-8556
Summer Contact: (570) 798-2504
The Tikvah program serves campers ages 12 – 17 years with developmental and intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, and neurological impairments. Specially-trained counselors monitor each camper’s needs and assist with self-care as needed, and medical staff is on hand if needed.

Capital Camps – Atzma’im Program
12750 Buchanan Trail E
Waynesboro, PA 17268
Winter Contact: (866) 430-22267
Summer Contact: (717) 794-2177
The Atzma’im program is designed to provide an immersive camp experience for rising 3rd through 10th graders with special needs. Campers are mainstreamed into cabins and provided with additional staff support as needed. The facility is ADA-compliant, ensuring improved access for campers with physical challenges.

URJ Camp Harlam
575 Smith Rd
Kunkletown, PA 18058
Winter Contact: (610) 668-0423
Summer contact: (570) 629-1390
Camp Harlam is committed to providing a meaningful Jewish experience for all members of the Jewish community and is experienced in integrating campers with autism spectrum disorders, cognitive delays, mental health diagnoses, ADHD, learning disabilities, and hearing loss. Families work with the Camper Care team and the Inclusion Coordinator to ensure that the camp is able to meet each prospective camper’s needs and is able to provide appropriate support throughout the summer

Camp HASC
1563 49th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11219
(718) 686-2600
Camp HASC provides children and adults with special needs including intellectual and physical disabilities with a seven-week overnight camp experience while meeting the personal, social, therapeutic, and medical needs of each camper.

Yachad Camps
11 Broadway 13th fl
NY, NY 10004
(212) 613-8229
Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, offers a range of summer experiences for ages 6 through adult including overnight camp experiences and travel to Israel. Yachad is the largest provider of Jewish camping opportunities for individuals with disabilities in North America.

Grants

STARS – Student Testing, Assistance, Referrals & Support
Administered by the Macks Center for Jewish Education, this program provides subsidized testing for children with special needs who are enrolled in Jewish day schools. In order to be eligible for STARS funding, families must first contact their public school system and complete the Child Find process prior to applying for STARS funding. The application for funding must take place prior to any assessments. For more information, please contact Martha Goodman at mdsnap@cjebaltimore.org or at (410) 735-5012.

Jill Fox Memorial Fund
The Jill Fox Memorial Fund, Inc. has partnered with the Macks Center for Jewish Education to provide grants to help pay for unmet medical and healthcare needs for individuals with autism, childhood obesity, or mental illness. Grants are based on financial need and are for expenses that are not covered by other sources such as medical insurance and government agencies. Grant requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. For more information, contact Rachel Turniansky at rturniansky@cjebaltimore.org or (410) 735-5022.

Jewish Community Organizations

MDSNAP – Maryland Special Needs Advocacy Program
MDSNAP provides free educational advocacy services for children with special needs and helps parents navigate the special education system. Advocates assist parents with preparations for  IFSP and IEP meetings, accompany them to meetings – if desired, and educate parents about legal rights, and provide information, resources, and referrals. For more information, contact mdsnap@cjebaltimore.org or (410) 735-5012.

SHEMESH
SHEMESH partners with Jewish day schools throughout the Baltimore community to provide services for students as well as resources and training for educators. Services include reading intervention, speech therapy, early childhood special education, and executive functioning coaching, among others. For more information, contact info@shemeshbaltimore.org or (410) 843-7524.

Kodem Kol
Kodem Kol offers outreach, training, and service coordination for Orthodox Jewish families with infants and toddlers who are eligible for early intervention services and their families. The program is a partnership between the Macks Center for Jewish Education, the Kennedy Krieger Department for Family Support Services, Baltimore City Infants & Toddlers Program, and the Maryland State Department of Education. For more information, contact (410) 298-7000 or (410) 298-2640.

JADE – Jewish Advocates for Deaf Education
JADE works to raise awareness and increase accessibility in the Jewish community for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. JADE encourages event planners in the Jewish community to arrange for interpreters and empowers individuals to request interpreters so that they can participate in events in the Jewish community. For more information, contact Yael Zelinger at yzelinger@cjebaltimore.org or (410) 735-5023.

PJ Library
PJ Library offers free, age-appropriate Jewish books to families in the Baltimore area with children ages 6 months through 8 years. Families with children who have special needs can request that the books sent to their home are adjusted to an age group other than the child’s chronological age. Similarly, families with children who exceed the age limit for PJ Library but still may benefit from the materials offered can request to be enrolled in PJ Library at any age group deemed appropriate. For more information, please contact the director of PJ Library Baltimore, Gabrielle Burger, at gburger@cjebaltimore.org or (410) 735-5004.

Jewish Community Services
5750 Park Heights Ave
Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 466-9200
JCS provides counseling, advocacy and case management services to children, adults and families of individuals with special needs. Other services include assistance with independent living skills, tutoring, and obtaining resources and equipment through the Developmental Disability Administration and other sources. JCS also provides in-home or office consultations for more intensive advocacy, support and future planning.

Relief Resources – Baltimore Office
5906 Park Heights Ave Suite #107-6
Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 448-8356
ahauptman@reliefhelp.org
A non-profit organization, Relief Resources provides referrals to children and adults with mental illness. Referrals are made on an individual basis with separate departments handling adult and pediatric referrals and dedicated divisions for eating disorders and sexual abuse.

Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance
5700 Park Heights Ave
Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 559-3613
bjaa@jcc.org
The Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance connects individuals and their families to resources, services, support groups, workshops, clinics, and recreational programs.  Their website provides information and resources on a wide array of topics and also houses a local resource directory.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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