Family Support

Housing & Transportation

Resource Contact Information

During Hospital Stays
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh
Housing for families of pediatric patients undergoing treatment.

Home Modifications

If you need home modifications to accommodate your child with special needs, here are some resources.

Resource Contact Information

ACTION-Housing Inc.
Provides modifications to homes to accommodate residents with disabilities through the Allegheny County Accessibility Program.

See Alternate Funding in this section of the Guide for information about funding home modifications.

Residential Options for Children Under Age 18

Parents or guardians may decide that a child can benefit from an alternative to full-time, at home living. Such arrangements can be provided on an as-needed, temporary or permanent basis.

Resource Contact Information

The Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health
Service coordinators will assist in finding schools and organizations that meet your child's needs and family wishes, and will help identify funding sources. You also may contact residential care facilities directly to ask for information.

If your child is registered with Allegheny County Office of Intellectual Disability (OID) contact their Supports Coordinator for assistance.
If your child has a diagnosis of mental retardation and is not registered call the OID Intake and Registration at 412-253-1250

The following schools and organizations offer residential placements:

Transitional living services for adolescents
Allegheny Valley School
Range of living support options, from on-campus to group homes, for people with intellectual and physical disabilities
McGuire Memorial
Residential services for preschoolers to adults, including campus living and group homes.
Passavant Memorial Homes
Pressley Ridge
Offers range of residential services for children and youths with mental health, and/or delinquency issues.
Verland Foundation, Inc.
Housing and supports for persons with severe intellectual disabilities, school-age and older.
Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children
Residential programs for children with vision impairments
Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf
Residential education and supports program for children with hearing impairments, preschool through grade 12

See the Transition to Adulthood section of this Guide for Residential Options for Individuals Age 18 and Older


Renting or Purchasing Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicles

Resource Contact Information

Mobility Works
Rents and sells new and used accessible vans and minivans. Can determine if adaptive driving controls and lifts can be added to your vehicle.
Wheelchair Getaways
Rents accessible vans.
Keystone Coach Works
Rents and sells accessible vans.

See Alternative Funding in this section of the Guide for resources for funding a wheelchair-accessible van.

"Travel Training" and Driver's Education

The two PA Deparment of Education Intermediate Units that serve Allegheny County offer Travel Training for eligible Transition-age students with IEPs.

Travel Training includes:

  1. assessment of the student's needs
  2. travel awareness
  3. skills instruction
  4. trips on public transit

Teenagers with disabilities who are interested in learning to drive should discuss options with the Transition Coordinators on their IEP team.

Resource Contact Information

Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3 (Allegheny County, excluding the City of Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh-Mount Oliver Intermediate Unit 2
The Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists
Offers a national directory of members who are certified in training people with disabilities to drive and supporting personnel in the field of vehicle modifications.
Brant's Driving School
Provides cognitive and physical assessments, assessment for vehicle modifications. Assists with funding and on-road training.
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)
OVR may fund driving lessons if a person with special needs must drive in order to obtain employment.

See the Transition-to-Adulthood section of this Guide for more information about Transition services.

Non-Drivers' Photo ID Card

Individuals who are not planning to get a driver's license can apply for a Photo ID Card from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver and Vehicle Services - 800-932-4600.

"Person with Disability" Parking Placards and License Plates

These plates and placards allow you to park in designated parking spaces at public venues. A healthcare provider must certify the disability. More information - 800-932-4600.

Port Authority Bus and Light Rail Service

The Port Authority operates bus and light rail transit service in Allegheny County. Children under age five ride free when accompanied by a fare-paying passenger. Children ages 6 through 11 pay half-fare on Port Authority vehicles. Age 12 and older pay adult fare.

Individuals who have a certified disability are eligible for a Reduced Transit Fare Card. Holders of this card pay half fare except during weekday rush hours. To apply, call 412-442-2000 or visit the Port Authority Downtown Service Center, 534 Smithfield St. A representative of a social service agency or a physician must sign the application.

Half-fare cards for all day riding, plus free transit for an accompanying personal assistant, are also available to people who are "conditional" riders on ACCESS Paratransit (see below for ACCESS Paratransit info) .

ACCESS Paratransit

The Port Authority operates the ACCESS shared-ride, door-to-door service for people who cannot ride buses or light rails either some of the time or all of the time. Application and verification of disability are required.

Advance reservations must be made for this service, which can be used for any purpose. An adult must accompany children under age 10.

ACCESS operates seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Detailed information for riders with special needs - 412-562-5353.

Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP)

Individuals who are receiving Medical Assistance (MA) and who need help getting to medical appointments are entitled to receive MATP services from their county. The service can take the form of mileage reimbursement, help paying for public transportation, or shared ride transportation.

You must register for the program before you or your child can use the service. Enrollment is a three-step process:

  • MATP will verify the client's MA eligibility and complete the MATP Application (usually over the phone).

  • MATP will mail the client's application for signature.
  • Clients must sign application and return it to the MATP Office.

MATP is required by law to provide the least costly transportation available, including public transportation, mileage reimbursement, or para-transit shared-ride system. Agency decisions about the type of transportation service are based on client's physical and/or behavioral health condition, health needs, physicians' recommendations, and availability of public transportation between the trip origination and destination.

To enroll, call the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Office of Community Services, at 888-547-MATP (6287) or visit the Human Services Building, One Smithfield St., Downtown.
Information online 412-350-4476 or 1-888-547-6287

Resource Contact Information

Greyhound Bus Service
has supports in place to assist individuals with special needs traveling by bus

Other Transportation Providers

American Cancer Society
Volunteer transportation and financial reimbursement
Automated Health Systems, Inc.
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Transport Team
Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) of Southwestern and Midwestern PA
AMTRAK Rail Service
Assistance for people with special needs

Car Seat Safety

The Pennsylvania Child Passenger Protection Act requires that all drivers transporting children ages birth-4 years use an approved child safety seat. Children ages 4 to 8 must wear a seat belt and be in a booster seat.
Children with medical conditions or disabilities may require special considerations or adaptations for transportation safety.

Resource Contact Information

The Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project Information Hotline
Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project
Conducts training for school districts and companies on transporting children with special needs.
The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration
Provides information on car safety, car seat recalls and where to find places to have a child seat inspected for safety.
Safe Car
Informational web site about car safety in general, with a tab for child safety rules and sources.
Easter Seal Society
Provides referrals and information about car seats.
The American Academy of Pediatrics
Provides referrals and information about car seats.

Passenger Airbags

Airbags are lifesavers for adults but can be deadly for infants and children. An airbag can inflate with explosive force in a split second, even in low-speed, fender-bender accidents. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Transportation urges that all children under the age of 12 ride in the rear seat.

However, some parents whose children have medical needs are uncomfortable with their child being out of sight and reach. The best solution is to have another adult in the car who can sit next to the child. Or parents can purchase a special wide-angle mirror that allows a better view of the child.

Parents who want their children to ride in the front seat should be sure the airbag is turned off. Some vehicles have switches for this; others require a mechanic's assistance.

The following can help prevent airbag injury to an older child:

  • Move the seat back as far as possible.
  • See that the child is properly restrained.
  • Have the child sit upright against the seat back.
  • Do not permit the child to lean forward towards the floor, dashboard, or radio dials.
  • Do not let the child fall asleep with the head or upper body falling forward.

Air Travel

The Transportation Safety Administration provides vital information for passengers with special health care needs, such as what medicines and liquids you can carry on board, screening procedures for individuals who need assistive equipment, and what to do if you think your child might be upset during the screening process. 866-289-9673; TTY, 877-872-7992 - TTY

Ask airlines about procedures before making flight reservations. Explain that your child has special needs and whether you will have medical equipment. If you are making a connecting flight, ask the airline for added assistance. Check to see if full fare must be paid to guarantee a child's seat.

Here are some other tips for safe air travel with children from the Federal Aviation Administration:

  • For a child less than 20 pounds, use a rear-facing car seat.
  • For a child 20-40 pounds, use a forward-facing car seat.
  • For a child more than 40 pounds, use the airplane seat belt.
  • Booster seats are prohibited for use on planes and must be checked as luggage if you need to take them.

More information online - 866-TELL-FAA.

Critical Care Transport by Air

Resource Contact Information

Angel Wings, Wings for Children
Provides free medical airlifts for children (ages birth-18 years) who live within 500 miles of Pittsburgh, need specialized care and treatment, and cannot use commercial airlines due to medical or financial factors. The organization is staffed by volunteer pilots who lease aircraft when needed.
Air Ambulance Network
Full-service air ambulance company specializes in critical care transports, elective medical transports, and medical escorts. Operates 24 hours a day and is staffed by physicians, nurses, and therapists. Costs may be reimbursable.
Corporate Angel Network
Provides individuals with cancer free air transport for medical reasons.