Legally blind children, ages three through thirteen, may receive assistance through the South Carolina Commission for the Blind’s Children's Services Program. Our Children's Services counselors provide direct assistance with adjustment to blindness/vision loss, and also coordinate a variety of other applicable resources.
Services for children who are blind or visually impaired may include:
Counseling and Guidance for Parents - To understand vision loss and plan for the future
Workshops and Support Groups for Families
Summer Camping and Independent Living Skills (Socialization/Recreation Programs)
Consultation and Coordination with Community Resources
Community-based Early Intervention Programs can also assist families with obtaining appropriate services from professionals with specialized training in visual impairments and infant/toddler/child development.
Children’s Services counselors coordinate with several agencies and organizations to ensure all issues are appropriately addressed. Some of those referral sources include, but are not limited to, the SC Department of Social Services, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, The SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Easter Seals, and Pro Parents.
The Children’s Services Department is currently comprised of two counselors who work from the Columbia and Charleston Offices. Approximately 200 visually impaired/blind children are served through the South Carolina Commission for the Blind. We also assist with addressing the needs of legally blind children with multiple disabilities.
When making application with the SC Commission for the Blind, an updated Eye Examination Report, from the child’s eye care specialist, is required. The Eye Examination Report enables us to officially determine eligibility for services. After doing so, the counselor will follow up with the parent(s) or legal guardian to arrange an appointment in the child’s home. The initial home visit provides everyone the opportunity to discuss the services the child may be eligible to receive.
Our counselors also conduct thorough assessments to identify the specific needs of children and their families. Family input is an integral part of the process, which outlines goals and determines services to be provided. The assessments result in the development of Individualized Service Plans (ISP) for the children. The Plans are amended, as needed, and updated annually.
The South Carolina Commission for the Blind also receives Medicaid reimbursements for case management services provided to children and their families who are Medicaid eligible. Through this process, the counselors coordinate services for the children with other agencies and service providers to ensure that their needs are being met.
Children’s Services counselors also assist with the transition to preschool programs at age three. While the children are in school, our counselors attend the annual Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting and provide adaptive material and equipment such as talking calculators, mobility canes, Braille rulers, and other items needed for adjustment and to complete school assignments. The items children use will vary depending on the individual child’s specific abilities and needs.
If it is a viable option, the Children’s Services counselors may refer children to our Low Vision Clinics for periodic low vision evaluations. Subsequently, the recommended low vision devices are provided, and the Children’s Services counselor will review proper usage technique during follow up home visits. Most often the children benefit from magnifiers, monoculars, and special sun shields. Additionally, we provide families with applications for the various camps offered each summer. Camps are important, as the children learn self-reliance and have an opportunity to gain independent living skills, while also socializing and enjoying positive, new experiences.
At age fourteen the children are referred to the Commission’s Transition Program under the agency’s Vocational Rehabilitation Division. These students may also be eligible for the Summer Teen Program held at the Ellen Beach Mack Rehabilitation Center in Columbia. We encourage the teens to attend this worthwhile Program, as it reinforces and emphasizes independent living skills, orientation and mobility, Braille skills, vocational interests and interviewing skills for employment.
Typically, after a meeting with one of our knowledgeable and experienced counselors, many parents decide that the assistance would be beneficial. We welcome each opportunity to address questions and concerns, and ultimately serve as a guide with assisting the child in reaching his or her full potential.