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Ensuring Support Services for Youth With Disabilities & Special Health Care Needs Amid COVID-19

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With schools closed and families social distancing, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the lives of children across the country. For youth with disabilities and special health care needs and their caregivers, the challenges brought about by the pandemic have been even more acute, leading to issues accessing critical therapies and disrupted services at home and school.  
There are a multitude of questions around how to ensure the health and safety of children with disabilities and special health care needs as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses: What do parents and those who care for children need to know about the impact of COVID-19? What will health and safety protocols for a return to school look like? Can therapies and services that are critical for youth well-being be delivered safely, and what concerns exist around disparities in access?

On July 1, 2020, PolicyLab hosted a virtual conversation titled, “Ensuring Support Services for Youth With Disabilities & Special Health Care Needs Amid COVID-19” with state education leadership, health care providers, and policy experts with lived-experience who discussed these issues and more.

Panelists included:

  • Sophia Jan, MD, MSHP, division chief of general pediatrics, Cohen Children’s Medical Center and faculty scholar at PolicyLab (moderator)
  • Carole L. Clancy, director, Bureau of Special Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education
  • Susan Coffin, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and attending physician at CHOP
  • Rylin Rodgers, director of Public Policy, Association of University Centers on Disabilities
  • Kate Wallis, MD, MPH, attending physician in CHOP’s Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and faculty member at PolicyLab 


Jan S, Clancy CL, Coffin S, Rodgers R, Wallis K