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Last updated: February 8, 2024 • Education Advice

Best Places to Live in the US with Special Needs Children

One thing unites all parents, regardless of class, country, or language: the desire to protect and care for their children and ensure their lives are as great as possible. This is just as true for parents of children with disabilities and extends to every aspect of their children’s lives. Choosing a place to live is just one of these factors and is very important to these parents. 

When seeking to find the best places to live, a parent usually considers factors like affordable family entertainment options, proximity to hospitals, and, of course, being within the best school districts in the county. However, for parents of special needs children, there are often more important factors involved.

Summary:

Primary concerns: safety and education

sign language teacher and kid

Rearing a physically challenged child involves a deep concern, first and foremost, for any facility being equipped with accessibility for wheelchairs and scooters. Beyond this apparent matter, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder need safer homes than typical children because they tend to wander around. In worst-case scenarios, they might be inclined to inflict self-injury or even harm others.

When looking for a home, a parent with special needs children worries about a societal prejudice that can influence their children’s education and professional development. One may also wonder: “Does that area usually employ people with disabilities?” If yes, that should give hope that their child will be accepted and find work there in the future.

Then, of course, you have to consider education. While those with stable incomes may be able to afford private schools, most will not be able to afford the hefty tuition fees. Fortunately, there are various scholarships for those with disabilities, such as the National Scholarship for College Students with Disabilities, the McKay Scholarship, and many others. Homeschooling a child with a disability represents a different type of education for parents battling the school system for a curriculum adaptation for special needs students. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education is fighting to eliminate discrimination based on disability among students and oversees that equality principles are followed for students with special needs. 

Scholarships for special needs children

The cost of higher education impacts all students, but students with disabilities may have more challenges to overcome and need more assistance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 61 million individuals in the nation who are disabled. These comprise learning difficulties like dyslexia and language disorders, as well as physical limitations like hearing loss and mobility problems.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, students with disabilities earn bachelor’s degrees at a rate that is less than half that of students without impairments. Although various variables contribute to these figures, finances play a significant role in the problem. People with disabilities who are over 16 find employment at a rate that is one-third that of the general population, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. A higher likelihood of poverty is associated with less educational attainment, higher medical expenses, and a lack of financial assistance.

Schools, organizations, and governments provide specialized financing for these children to counter these patterns. Scholarships such as the National Scholarship for College Students with Disabilities, the McKay Scholarship, and many others have been established to support students with disabilities, ensuring they have equal opportunities to pursue higher education. Each state should have its own special needs scholarship opportunities, so if needing one, make sure you check the requirements. An excellent example is Stepupforstudents in Florida, which supports students with personalized education from PreK3-12 grade.  

The National Scholarship for College Students with Disabilities was created to support children with disabilities. It honors candidates who send in excellent personal essays and show promise in their academic and professional careers. Each applicant must write a personal essay, show proof of their impairment, and remain enrolled full-time in a two-year or four-year program. 

Through the state-funded McKay Scholarship Program, parents of students with disabilities can select the academic setting that best suits their child’s educational needs. Students who meet the requirements can attend any public school in their home district or a nearby district and participate in private schools.

Special needs programs

happy family dog , kid syndrome down

Finally, the search also needs to consider a relief for you, the parent. The best places to live with a special needs child in the US usually provide professionally trained help in physical or psychological therapy. Furthermore, they organize special needs programs such as special needs housing placement and children’s inclusion programs. These well-outlined and carefully crafted projects and courses provide parents with breathing space while helping their children develop independence and self-sufficiency.

We at RealEstateAgent.com will look at cities with a great offering of special needs programs integrating entertainment options for the whole family. The concept is similar to some of the Best Museums in America that boast excellent accessibility for visual or auditory impairment. Moreover, they provide children with safe spaces and an adapted environment.

We investigated such factors, which you, being a concerned parent, will likely find an interest in. The upcoming cities are outstanding examples of disability-friendly environments in the present but will remain the perfect home for your children all grown up. By then, they will not have to adapt once again. These cities have high scores in

  • median wages for people with a disability 
  • labor force participation rate 
  • low poverty rate
  • percent of households receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits 
  • high walk and transit scores
  • population residents with a disability
  • a large number of accredited health departments per capita, 
  • percent of residents with a disability that has health insurance.

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Top US cities to raise special needs children

Seattle, Washington

downtown seattle washington

The local real estate agents in Seattle WA, would, rightfully, take immense pride in their city’s status as one of the best for families. Now, they can add that it just became a haven for all sorts of folks, even those requiring special care. Thanks to the innovation boom brought by startups and the development brought by companies headquartered in the city. The locals can tell you that special needs children barely miss out on anything regarding museums and other entertainment options.

These attractions are almost always well equipped with accessibility and inclusion measures such as ramps, special accommodations for the hearing or visually impaired, and many other options. This factor is significant when ascertaining the nation’s best cities to raise a special needs child, and Seattle delivers.

Regarding health care, Seattle ranks among the best cities to raise a special needs child. The city is home to the modern and well-equipped Center for Children with Special Needs, an impressive special needs program at Seattle Children’s Hospital that has focused on improving special needs children’s health and well-being since 1998.

Among the most reputable non-profit organizations for children and adults with developmental disabilities in Seattle is Northwest Center. Founded in 1965 by a group of Seattle moms who wanted to prove their children could learn, the organization promotes inclusivity for disabled people. Their main goal is to empower people with disabilities from birth to retirement and help them reach their highest potential.

Laredo, Texas

stamp with text loredo texas

If finances are your primary concern, take a look at Laredo, Texas. When seeking a place to live with a special needs child, it’s essential to consider employment options for the future and other financial realities they will face later in life.

Laredo is among the cities with the lowest cost of living and the ones with the highest employment rate for people with disabilities. Disabilities require high-skilled medical attention, and Laredo focuses on the affordability of medical care and the cost of in-home services.

However, special needs programs are not abundant, and the city, being small, is not that great accessibility-wise. Laredo is growing, though; at one point in the 2000s, it was the second fastest-growing city in the country! This impressive progress is not an unexpected miracle since the city has so many colorful special needs programs and provides accessibility for everyone.

Parents want their kids to succeed and have options to grow professionally, and Laredo is doing great in that area. Laredo ranks near the top on the list of the best places for special needs children!

Baltimore, Maryland

baltimore maryland cityscape

While showing you around their city, the local realtors in Baltimore MD, won’t hesitate to share their town’s many attractive special needs features that make it one of the best cities to raise a special needs child in the U.S.

For starters, Maryland is among only eight states, with over 40% of its special needs population competitively employed. Moreover, its special needs programs place it very high on our list.Additionally, Baltimore is, amongst others, home to two of the most respected special needs schools, the Kennedy Krieger School and the William S. Baer School. And, most prominently, the Kennedy Krieger School is widely regarded as the best in the country!

Orlando, FL

the orlando florida eye

Situated in south-central Florida, this summery southern paradise is home to more than just the acclaimed Disney World Theme Parks. With tens of thousands of tourists frequenting the town each week, the professional staff will accommodate people with special needs.

With most public spaces and services boasting extensive special-needs accessibility measures and virtually every attraction and institution equipped with similar measures, Orlando is definitely one of the best cities to raise a special-needs child.Real estate agents in Orlando FL, will quickly point out another reason the city is so attractive to parents of special needs children: the climate. Orlando is home to a highly temperate climate, mainly free of inclement weather, with temperatures rarely dropping below fifty degrees Fahrenheit. For parents of those suffering debilitating disorders that cold temperatures may exacerbate, this city is a dream come true.

The cities of Scottsdale and Peoria, Arizona

Since these two exceptional cities were selected for America’s top five disability-friendly locations (see later), we decided to give them the red-carpet treatment here. Scottsdale and Peoria also qualify as the best places to raise a family in Arizona

Scottsdale, the most livable city in the Phoenix metro area, proved to be a superb location for those who want to raise a family under smooth circumstances. It has plenty of safe suburbs low crime rates, and its educational system is top-notch in Arizona. Among its many attractions, the local real estate agents in Scottsdale AZ, would highlight its famous golf courses, drop-dead gorgeous resorts and spas, art galleries, posh nightclubs, and country clubs. According to the state, Scottsdale Unified School District has around 2,300 children with disabilities, making up 10 percent of the overall student population.

Want to pursue an active lifestyle and take chill-out walks with your children? Then Peoria, AZ, is, by all means, the ideal place for you! Take a breather in relaxing spas and resorts; recreation is the buzzword, and the city delivers unparalleled opportunities. Start with Lake Pleasant Regional Park! As the name indicates, the cheerful venue is a 23,000-acre park hosting two marinas. Don’t get lost in its many activities, such as boating, fishing, water skiing, kayaking, camping, and scuba diving! Everything in the city is disabled-friendly! The Peoria Unified School District has grown its reputation as an outstanding facility for special needs children.

Updates on communities with disabilities

people charity donation

Each year, the list of disability-friendly cities changes due to the efforts of each community to accommodate these individuals. According to the website Abilities and a thorough analysis compiled by the consumer finance website WalletHub, “Overland Park, Kansas tops the chart as the best place to live for the disability community.” The cities of Scottsdale and Peoria, Arizona, and Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida, complete the top five list.The analysis considered the three most important factors for a disabled person:  economic environment, quality of life, and healthcare conditions. The cities above showcase great potential regarding employment rate, median income, and job market openness. When considering moving to a disability-friendly city, you might want to try one of the top five while getting help from agents specializing in homes for the disabled. Your offspring with unique needs can surely adapt to an environment that has made significant progress in this field.

What does living with a disability and/or being a parent of a child with disabilities mean?

happy family moments

Doctors classify a diversity of conditions and impairments as special needs. Under the umbrella term of special needs qualify the following: chronic and terminal illnesses, physical, hearing, visual, and speech impairments, and cognitive or psychiatric issues (intellectual disability and traumatic brain injury). Specific learning disabilities, like dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affecting attention and executive function, autism, emotional disturbance (such as schizophrenia, anxiety), etc.

Recent statistics show that 19 percent of children under the age of 18 in the United States, or approximately 14 million adolescents, need special health care services. Children with special health care needs are present in nearly 25 percent of U.S. households.

Parents should be able to provide information on the child’s strengths and weaknesses at home. Secondly, they must know any background information on the child’s history and development. Thirdly, if this is the case, they must inform teachers and doctors about family factors that may affect the child’s learning.

The importance of living in a disability-friendly environment

facilitation people equity image view

The importance of living in a disability-friendly and accessible environment is undeniable for people of all ages. It is appropriate to state that everyone in society, including those with impairments, benefits from accessibility. Improving accessibility achieves a higher quality of life and fosters greater independence and social integration. Additionally, it improves health and can save money in various ways. In reality, increased accessibility allows disabled individuals to live independently in the community, reducing the need for specialized services and improving the economy.

In a disability-friendly environment, people may take better care of themselves and live independent lives for much longer. Accessibility encourages active aging, which benefits society by lessening caregiving stress and senior care services expenses.

When they are in accessible locations, people with disabilities can move around independently and use daily services. As a result, people are inspired and encouraged to interact with others and engage in social life by leaving their houses more frequently. This also helps them avoid social isolation.

Better accessibility to public transportation in the U.S. ensures that all people may use sustainable mobility modes and that daily services are available without requiring a car. 

Enhancing accessibility in the workplace and recruitment process benefits society in many ways, such as expanding the talent pool available to businesses, lowering the reliance of individuals with disabilities on social welfare, and increasing the number of people actively participating in the economy.

Regarding leisure, increased accessibility to sporting and cultural events enables more people to actively engage in society and enjoy themselves with their friends and families. Additionally, participating people will have improved health, lowering the demand for medical services.

What are the housing benefits for parents living with special needs children?

home or houses on gold coins

The US government’s website informs us they provide help for people with disabilities. Want a place to live? Apply for housing help now! There are different programs that can help you find a home, make your current place disability-friendly, or learn to live independently. Each program has its own rules and application process.

Public housing is there to make sure families with low income and people with disabilities have a good and safe place to rent. It comes in different sizes and types. Just get in touch with your Local Housing Authority or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Your family can also apply for Rental Assistance. HUD has something called Privately Owned Subsidized Housing that gives discounted rents for disabled people. You can also try for a Housing Choice Voucher to help pay the rent. Remember, each state or city has its own rules for these housing programs. 

Conclusion

One last thing to consider is the proximity to the family. Support is one of the most valuable things a family with special needs children requires. Of course, a special needs program can be a heartfelt and valuable surrogate, but nothing replaces the security only a family can provide. Don’t they say that home is where the heart is?

Moving to a new city should always be the adventure of a lifetime for the whole family. A new environment can bring lots of joy and support from special friends, who, in this case, are also professional helpers with special needs. We hope our list of best places to live with a special needs child gives insight into where works best for you and your family. Moving to a disability-friendly city sometimes can’t be carried out due to financial difficulties. However, accepting these hardships does not mean you should put up with intolerance of others for your child’s particular needs. Advocate in your community to raise awareness. 

No child in this country should grow up without all the best care possible!

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13 Responses to " Best Places to Live in the US with Special Needs Children "

  1. Real Estate Agent has the best articles I have seen!

    • Teo Teo says:

      Hi, Mary! Thank you for your comment! We are glad you find our articles useful. Have you read the new article on special needs housing?

      • Kathy says:

        I have a special needs young adult she will be leaving school in 2 years, at age 21. I can then move, might you know of any Special Need communities / towns? I did put my daughter on the housing list but, it is a very long wait. I currently live in NJ. Thank you.

        • Ovidiu Tarnaceanu says:

          Hey, Kathy!

          We are glad to hear about your daughter going to school, and we hope this message finds you both well and healthy. Our agents can help you find the town/community you are looking for and by accessing the link provided you can find real estate agents in New Jersey that can help you with your housing situation.

          Also, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-866-495-4953 and we will do everything we can to assist you. Stay healthy and we are looking forward to hearing from you.

  2. B Menconi says:

    This is absolutely ludicrous. Did you look at how many successful ADA lawsuits there are for the state of Texas alone?

    I’m in Houston, and I have been forced to work at poverty level in order to afford my daughter’s medical bills. I went ahead and called my family in Laredo to check your facts, they just laughed. I contacted three friends in and around Scottsdale, AZ and they were utterly shocked. You are setting up special needs families and individuals up for failure.

    • Carmon says:

      wow thank you menconi I was thinking about moving to Arizona becaue if my daughters CP what is a good state for her this is so sad it has to be some kind of help out there for us. This is stressful.

      • Jessica says:

        I live in Arizona with my son who has autism. Our program here is called the Department of Developmental Disabilities. DDD is known for being one of the best ‘ in theory’ and while on paper it offers families/people with disabilities with a lot of services; actually getting providers/caregivers to work is impossible. Arizona pays their caregivers the lowest nationally meaning there is no one to actually work all the wonderful hours of respite care you qualify for. Also, while the budget is exceptional, qualifying can be challenging and wait lists to receive services is long. Some families wait years to get services in place. There are many other issues that boil down to high turnover within the department and a focus on internal issues within DDD at the expense of actual performance for its clients. There are other issues to consider as well like our boiling hot summers and dwindling water supply…we are very concerned about water sustainability currently. I’m now looking for other states with comparable programs for after my son graduates from high school. I would really appreciate anyones feedback and or recommendations for other states who offer decent services to people with developmental disabilities.

    • TG Franke says:

      so you mean to tell me that all this is a joke?? that i just read through all this and it’s not true??!! it makes me sick to think that a real estate company would go to all this trouble to set up we parents who have worried and begged and pleaded and gone totally broke and have no coping skills left after years of bullshit, just to raise their own company profile and get more customers!!! when i saw Laredo on the list o got suspicious because i live in San Antonio and i know Laredo and it couldn’t be less special need friendly …something to do with the amount of violence along the border probably and the pay is laughable!!! I am an RN and i can’t make ends meet in this state of texas, in San Antonio and the listing about Houston… OMG another joke from a fellow Texan….but i don’t know the other places named so i actually had hope and now i’m back to having none. thank you for NOTHING!!

  3. Kerri Cassino says:

    Please email me with a telephone number to call for the Florida home

  4. Michelle says:

    It’s sad that state waivers do not transfer. For me to move, my daughter will lose all services and placed on a 7+ year waiting list!! Not fair…Trapped in Ohio

    • LA says:

      I so agree on this comment. Even if we do find a good state for our needs, the benefits have to be cut off from where you are living now and takes time to enroll in the state you move. So when you have a youngster that has medical health issues and relying on Medicaid as the only medical coverage, this is especially a huge hold back issue.

      As an aging parents, we also learned and I have been advocating through the Senate to overrule the policy of a 24 month waiting period for Medicare when it comes to a youngster with extreme medical needs. At the moment only a couple categories are an exception to that and such as renal stage and another one ( sorry )
      I would like to get more participants to help me fight this in order to overwrite this law. This law is existing sines early 70s. Many parents and even grandparents who take care of their children in similar need agree that this has to change but without a strong advocacy of the public population it will not.

  5. Darrell David says:

    I found this article on the best places to live in the US with special needs children to be insightful! The considerations for factors like healthcare, education, and community support provide valuable information for families seeking inclusive environments. Thanks for sharing this resource!

  6. La says:

    Would anyone know about Delaware, how good is it to people and youngsters and their families when it comes to developmental disabilities and blindness?

    We live in New Jersey, it’s a good state to our children and youngsters but the problem is high property taxes when it comes to aging parents trying to downsize. Housing for DDD world here is still a issue. Our Governor and his team working tiresome on programs for improvement but it’s still tough. From my research Massachusetts is a good state for our children needs but it’s a colder North state. We would not be able to move there for many personal reasons but for those who are ok with the weather there, look into.

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