This is a list of resources that are commonly used throughout the state of Wisconsin. Phone calls to the Milwaukee Playhouse are also welcomed or stop in and we will be happy to help you navigate the disability resources here and help tailor the discussion to best support your family. Sara, our Operations Director, is a former Special Education Teacher and Special Education Director and enjoys assisting families as an advocate or as a resource to help families navigate the schools Special Education system to increase communication among families and school staff to support each child’s success. 

Down Syndrome Resources 

  • Lettercase: Part of The National Center for Prenatal and Postnatal Resources 
  • Down TV: this is a place to see videos of children with Down syndrome around the world, news clips related to Down syndrome, talks and commentary from individuals who support the Down syndrome community. 
  • National Down Syndrome Society – NDSS: The mission of the National Down Syndrome Society is to benefit people with Down syndrome and their families through national leadership in education, research and advocacy. 
  • Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation (DSRTF): Empowers individuals with Down syndrome to reach their full potential throughout life 
  • Down Syndrome International (DSi): This UK based international charity is committed to improving quality of life for people with Down syndrome worldwide and promoting their inherent right to be accepted and included as valued and equal members of their communities. 
  • The SKATE Foundation:  
  • Down Syndrome Education Online: offers comprehensive information about Down syndrome, including articles, books and scientific papers. 
  • Global Down Syndrome Foundation: The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through Research, Medical Care, Education and Advocacy. 
  • National Association for Down Syndrome:  
  • National Down Syndrome Congress: 


Wisconsin Resources - General Information 

  • 2-1-1 Wisconsin: 211 connects you with thousands of nonprofit and government services in your area. If you want personal assistance, call the three-digit number 211 or 877-947-2211. A friendly voice to talk with you 24/7/365.   
  • Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones (ALAS): promotes the independence of people with disabilities by providing information and support to them, their families and their service providers in areas related to education and health. In English or Spanish, parents and families are supported with information and connections to community resources., 414.643.0022  
  • Autism Society of Southeastern WI (ASSEW): exists to improve the lives of all affected by Autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the life span, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. 414.988.1260  
  • Chapters of The Arc: Wisconsin chapters of the Arc are located statewide and can offer information on local programs and supports for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) across the lifespan. 
  • Childrens’ Hospital WI – Down Syndrome Clinic: Appointments are available monthly, usually the first or second Friday of the month. We customize your visits to meet your child’s and family's needs and concerns. We simply request that you schedule an appointment in advance. 
  • Compass Wisconsin-Threshold (for children): Provides outreach, intake, application and eligibility determination for Children’s Long-Term Support services to families living in Adams, Columbia, Dane, Green, Jackson, Jefferson, Kenosha, La Crosse, Lafayette, Marquette, Monroe, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties. 
  • DSAW: Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin: provides support to Wisconsin families and individuals with Down syndrome and related disabilities through awareness, education, information, programs, services, and the exchange of ideas and experiences. 
  • Friendship Circle: The Friendship Circle of Wisconsin, a division of Lubavitch of Wisconsin provides support, friendship, and opportunities to include people with all varying abilities in our community. 
  • Independence First: Inspires kids and adults with all types of disabilities to build skills for self-sufficiency. (414) 291-7520 
  • Life Navigators: Provides opportunities and services for their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (414) 774-6255 
  • Milwaukee Center for Independence: MCFI offers a full spectrum of professional services to help children with disabilities, profound medical issues and special needs reach their full potential. (414) 937-2020 
  • Office for Persons with Disabilities: County Programs, Services and Facilities (414) 278-3932 
  • Regional Centers for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs: Regional Centers provide free support to families with children and youth with special health care needs and the providers who serve them. The Centers help get answers, find services, and connect to community resources. 
  • St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care: St. Ann Center is an adult and child day care center open 6am to 6pmMonday through Friday. The center cares for children, plus adults (those over 17) with disabilities and the frail elderly as well as being a support for their families and caregivers. St. Ann Center provides Community-Based care that meets each individuals needs and helps them experience the joys of life through art, music and interactions with people all ages and abilities. 
  • Vision Forward: Vision Forward helps empower, educate, and enhance the lives of individuals impacted by vision loss through all of life’s transitions. (414) 615-0100 

  • The Waisman Center: The Waisman Center University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities supports the full inclusion and self-determination of people with developmental disabilities and their families through a variety of programs including personnel development, direct services and clinics, technical assistance and information dissemination. 1-800-532-3321 
  • Well Badger Resource Center: is a statewide information and referral hotline and online database to assist Wisconsin families and providers working with children and youth with special needs., 800.642.7837   


Spanish Websites 

When expectant parents find out they’re having a baby with Down syndrome, they often say they feel isolated and alone. For those families who speak other languages, that isolation can be even more profound as they look for translated resources and connections with other parents. For our Spanish-speaking expectant parents, and for relatives who speak Spanish, there are a variety of Spanish language materials and resources.  

  • Fundacion Iberoamericana Down21: aims to promote the social assistance, training and inclusion of people with Down syndrome or other intellectual disabilities, through their various actions, programs and projects. Channel Down21 
  • Support in Spanish-Apoyo A Los Padres: provides support and information to parents when they first find out their baby has Down syndrome, and they remain in close contact with families as their child develops. National Down Syndrome Society or 
  • Another great website in Spain is Down España. 
  • Bienvenidos al National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC): National Down Syndrome Congress has information in Spanish. 
  • Additionally, there are many Down syndrome groups in many Spanish speaking countries. Families may find it useful to take a look at the Down Syndrome International for websites of groups in their countries of origin (countries listed alphabetically) 
  • One of our favorite resources for dads is this video of a father and his teenage son Luca traveling together and sharing the evolution from diagnosis to friendship (in Spanish with English subtitles). 


Assistive Technology 


Benefits and Discounts 

  • Benefit specialists: Benefit specialists provide help to older adults and people with disabilities with questions and problems related to benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Food Share, and health insurance. Contact your local ADRC to find a benefit specialist in your area. 
  • BILLY Footwear: We at BILLY Footwear are pleased to announce our partnership with GiGi's Playhouse, where a percentage of all BILLY sales through their channel go back to their organization. 
  • Food Share Wisconsin: Helps low-income families and individuals buy nutritious food. You must apply to find out if you are eligible for Food Share benefits. Apply on-line or ask at the ADRC. 
  • Roshambo Prescription Glasses: Roshambo Eyewear is excited to be a contributing partner of GiGi’s Playhouse nationwide. In it’s new program, Roshambo will be donating 10% of all sales generated by GiGi’s Playhouse facilities and members back to the non-profit every month. In addition to the donation, Roshambo will also be offering a 20% discount to GiGi’s Playhouse members in support of their families and children needing prescription eyewear. GiGi’s Playhouse programs are 100% free to families and is a 99% volunteer-run organization! 

*Please use the code GIGI – MKE for your 20% off and 10% give-back! 

Link to auto-apply code: 

Our charitable support mission is to donate a portion of every sale to children’s charity! Learn more about the various children’s charities we partner with and donate to annually. 


Caregiver Supports and Respite 

  • Broadscope Disability Services: Broadscope provides respite options for caregivers, with locations in Milwaukee and Waukesha. (414) 329-4500 
  • Caregiver Support Programs: Provides information and assistance to help people better care for their loved ones – and themselves. Can arrange for services and help families understand their options for care, Caregiver support programs are available in every community. Contact your local ADRC or contact a caregiver resource specialist: (866) 843-9810 
  • How to Get Paid as a Family Caregiver 
  • Parent’s First Call program: DSAW has many programs and resources available for new and expectant parents through our Parent’s First Call program. 
  • Respite Care Association of Wisconsin: A resource and referral agency that assists in locating a respite service and other resources in your area. 608-222-2033 
  • Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA): is Wisconsin’s statewide member association for organizations and individuals committed to making every early childhood a great one. SFTA has ten Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies that assists in finding the childcare that meets the needs of each family., 888.713.KIDS   
  • Wisconsin Foster and Adoptive Parent Association: is a peer- and volunteer-based organization that supports and advocates for foster and adoptive parents by offering training, support programs and helps to create and support different legislative measures with our fellow representatives in Madison.   


Children-Specific Programs 

  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Programs for Children with Disabilities: Wisconsin has multiple programs available for children with delays or disabilities. Find a comprehensive listing here. 
  • Wisconsin’s Birth to 3 Program: The Wisconsin Birth to 3 Program serves children under the age of 3 with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. 
  • Milwaukee County Birth to 3: Program Referrals can be made from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling (414) 289-6799 (English and Spanish). Once referred, your child will be assigned a service coordinator and expert evaluation team. The screening can take place anywhere you and your child feel comfortable.,and%20your%20child%20feel%20comfortable.   
  • Birth to Three Program: is part of the Bureau of Children’s Services at the Department of Health Services and is a federally mandated program providing early intervention services to support families of children   with delays or disabilities under the age of three., 800.642.7837   
  • Programs for Children with Delays and Disabilities: County Contact Information (CLTS & CCOP): Please use this list to contact your county representative for the Children’s Long-Term Support (CLTS) Program or Children's Community Options Program (CCOP) services.   
  • St. Francis Children’s Center: St. Francis Children’s Center offers early childhood education, birth to three services, and a free family activity center for parents and children. 
  • Wisconsin Sound Beginnings Program: is part of the Maternal and Child Health Program at the Department of Health Services and promotes and supports universal newborn hearing screening and follow up services statewide. Sound Beginnings also helps connect families to Parent Guides through the Wisconsin “Guide-By-Your-Side” program.   


Decision-Making Supports and Guardianship 

  • Supported Decision-Making and Guardianship Alternatives: There are alternatives to guardianship. Supported decision-making empowers individuals with disabilities to make informed decisions about their life that protect their rights and ensure their safety and privacy. It involves family and friends working together to help them make complex decisions. 
  • The Wisconsin Guardianship Support Center: Provides information and assistance on issues related to guardianship, protective placement, advance directives, and more. 855-409-9410 
  • Client Rights-Guardianship: Takes calls about client rights if someone is receiving services for mental illness, a developmental disability, or substance abuse in Wisconsin and has a guardian. 608-266-9369 



  • Parents United Parents United is a coalition of 25 school districts in collaboration with educators, community resources and related service providers focused on empowering parents of children with disabilities to become effective advocates and informed decision-makers. This non-profit community-based organization provides regular informational workshops featuring experts presenting a wide range of topics relative to students with disabilities and their families. 
  • Transition Improvement Grant: Provides professional development to Wisconsin youth, parents, educators and all stakeholders in postsecondary transition for students with disabilities. TIG Coordinators are located throughout Wisconsin. Search for transition and other supports by county: 
  • WI FACETS (Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training & Support): Connects families to community resources. Educates parents on their rights and how to use those rights to become involved in their child’s education. 877-374-0511 
  • Wisconsin Head Start: is a federal program for preschool children from low-income families. Non-profit organizations, schools, community action commissions or other local grantees operate the Head Start program. Head Start supports Parent Affiliates to help guide the work of Wisconsin Head Start., 608.442.6879   
  • Wisconsin Statewide Parent-Educator Initiative (WSPEI): WSPEI assists families and educators to find resources, build relationships leading to positive outcomes for children’s learning. Parent educators provide free support within their CESA area. 1-833.879.7734   



  • DSAW offers Employment Services: including career discovery, work readiness, and work-based learning to people with disabilities in Wisconsin. To get started, please fill out this form. 
  • Division for Vocational Rehabilitation: DVR services are available to people with disabilities who have difficulty finding or keeping a job. After application DVR can take 60 days to determine eligibility. Apply online. 
  • Employment Resources, Inc: Supports people with disabilities in achieving employment goals, receiving benefits counseling, accessing healthcare, and connecting to financial information and resources. 1-855-401-8549 
  • Friendship Circle: The Friendship Circle of Wisconsin has developed an Employment Training Program that provides opportunities for adults with disabilities to meaningfully contribute to a business in an engaging, safe, supervised environment. 
  • Medical Assistance Purchase Plan (MAPP): Offers people with disabilities who are working or interested in working the opportunity to buy health care coverage through the Wisconsin Medicaid Program. 
  • Wisconsin Employment First: Resources and connections to seek Competitive Integrated Employment Contact the Wisconsin Board for Persons with Developmental Disabilities: 608-267-9897 
  • Employment Success Stories for people with disabilities: and 
  • Work Incentives Benefits Counseling: People who receive disability benefits can still work but may need to use work incentives tools and access the guidance of a work incentives benefits counselor. Ask your DVR Counselor or contact the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program. 


Family Supports 

  • Family Voices of Wisconsin: Helps families who have children and youth with disabilities and/or special health care needs navigate health care and community supports. 608-828-9959 
  • Wisconsin Family Ties: Information, resources and support for families with children who have emotional, mental health or behavioral disorders. 1-800-422-7145 
  • WisconSibs: Serving Wisconsin brothers and sisters with siblings with disabilities. Offers Sibshops® and camps for boys and girls, future-planning training and social events for adults and families. 920-968-1742 
  • Parent 2 Parent of Wisconsin: A peer matching program for parents of children with special health care needs or disabilities. No parent should feel alone, ever. 888-266-0028 
  • ALAS: Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones: Helps to promote the independence of persons with disabilities by providing information and support to them, their families, and their service providers in the areas related to but not limited to education and health. 414-643-0022 


Financial and Legal Planning Resources 

  • Special Needs Alliance: A national organization comprised of attorneys who can help answer questions about public benefits, special needs trusts, guardianships/conservatorships, planning for disabilities and special education issues. 
  • Wispact: A private nonprofit organization that administers pooled and community Special Needs Trusts for people with disabilities. 800-943-7386 press 9, press1, enter Ext. 53975 
  • Opening an ABLE Account in Wisconsin: Wisconsin residents may establish an ABLE account in another state as Wisconsin does not have its own ABLE program. Wisconsin residents may compare other state ABLE programs through the ABLE National Resource Center 
  • What is a Special Needs Trust? 
  • The Life Navigators Trust Program: Pooled trust and other trust resources and information. 414-774-6255 


Future Planning and Aging 

  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers: Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) are in most counties and are the first place to go to get accurate, unbiased information on all aspects of life related to aging or living with a disability. Go here to learn about program options, benefits and to enroll in adult programs. 
  • Aging Services: DSAW is expanding programs in order to better serve aging individuals with Down syndrome and their families. We have support opportunities for loved ones and caregivers, a number of education opportunities, resources, and more. 
  • A Journey Forward: Training specifically designed for adult siblings of persons with I/DD to plan for the future of their family. 
  • Person-Centered Planning Resources: 
  • Planning Alternative Futures with Hope (PATH) 
  • “It’s My Choice” 
  • SeniorCare: Prescription Drug Assistance Program is a program for Wisconsin residents who are 65 or older. The program helps seniors pay for prescription drugs and vaccines. 



  • ABC for Health, Inc:. Provides health care consumers with the information, advocacy tools, legal services, and expert support they need to navigate the health care financing system. Health benefits counselors are available to answer questions. 800-585-4222 
  • BadgerCare Plus: Prenatal Plan: The BadgerCare Plus Prenatal Plan provides health care for pregnant people who qualify. You may qualify based on immigration status. You may also qualify if you’re in prison or jail. 
  • Byte: Educational guide on dental care for children with autism over the age of 12 years. 
  • Katie Beckett Medicaid: The Katie Beckett Program is a special eligibility process that allows certain children with long-term disabilities, mental illness, or complex medical needs, living at home with their families, to access Medicaid-funded healthcare. 
  • Medicaid Programs: Wisconsin’s ForwardHealth Medicaid is public health insurance for the elderly, blind or disabled who meet eligibility requirements. You can apply for Medicaid online, by phone, by mail, or in person with your local agency. 
  • Medical Assistance Purchase Plan (MAPP): Offers people with disabilities who are working or interested in working the opportunity to buy health care coverage through the Wisconsin Medicaid Program. 
  • Provider Search Tool: A fast method for consumers to find a health care facility or care provider as well as compliance history for Wisconsin providers regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). 



  • Independent Living Centers: Independent Living Centers (ILCs) provide assistance to people with disabilities including peer support, information and referral, independent living skills training, coordination of personal care and other services, advocacy and community education. 
  • L.I.F.E. Academy, LLC: L.I.F.E. Academy operates its Daily Living Skill Training facility in a “Home” located on the West Side of Green Bay, WI. This facility is used as a training center for those in both the DLST and SHC programs. The neutral setting offers individuals the opportunity to learn and practice their skills in a setting that resembles that of their own home or future residence. L.I.F.E. Academy serves Brown and Shawano Counties. Services include: Supportive home care for individuals with disabilities, Daily living skills for individuals with disabilities, plus other services such as “Respite” Services, after hours group training and class opportunities (Budgeting, Meal Planning, Healthy Relationships, and more), and Social Group Activities. 
  • Wisconsin Medical Home Initiative: promotes the concepts of medical home for primary care clinicians, families and service providers throughout Wisconsin. Training, technical assistance and resources are provided to support medical home implementation with a focus in the areas of early identification of and timely referrals for children with developmental concerns and behavioral health integration into pediatric primary care.   
  • Movin’ Out Inc.: Provides information and resources covering a wide range of housing options to Wisconsin households that include a family member with a permanent disability. Contact: or 877-861-6746 x7 
  • Community Supported Living: Community Supported Living is a flexible partnership that enables a person needing support to live in their own home with support from an entity that provides individualized assistance. (Contact your Family Care or IRIS agency to ask about options for Community Supported Living and providers in your area.) 
  • Housing Discrimination Resources: 


Long-Term Services and Supports 

  • Comparison chart of Wisconsin Long-Term Care programs for Adults: 
  • Covered Services in Wisconsin Long-Term Care Programs: 
  • Family Care: Family Care is a managed care long-term care program that helps frail elders and adults with disabilities get the services they need to remain in their homes. People who are eligible for long-term care have the choice of IRIS or managed care. Must first undergo a functional screen process to determine eligibility. Contact your Local ADRC to find Family Care organizations serving your region. 
  • IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct): IRIS is a self-directed long-term care option. The participant manages an Individual Services and Supports Plan within an individual budget and the guidelines of allowable supports and services to meet his or her long-term care needs. The participant has the flexibility to design a cost-effective and personal plan. People who are eligible for long-term care have the choice of IRIS or managed care. Must first undergo a functional screen process to determine eligibility. Call the IRIS Service Center 1-888-515-IRIS (4747). 
  • Family Care and IRIS Ombudsman Program: Supports people experiencing problems with the Family Care, Partnership, or IRIS programs through independent ombudsman resources. 800-928-8778 


Mental Health Supports 


Recreation, Fitness and Social 

  • Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI): provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy while participating in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, Special Olympics athletes and the community. 
  • Local Chapters of The Arc: Wisconsin chapters of the Arc offer a variety of recreational and social opportunities for people with disabilities. 
  • Best Buddies Wisconsin: Offers One-to-One Friendship and Leadership Development programs connecting individuals with and without disabilities in Wisconsin. 414-271-1470 
  • Look for opportunities in your local community. Ask about accommodations for programs available to the general public. 
  • Milwaukee Ballet Tour de Force: In French, “tour de force” can be translated as a “vital step.” Milwaukee Ballet and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin offer children with disabilities a beginning ballet class and the chance to use their muscles and minds in new ways. At the close of the five-week sessions, the children enjoy a Milwaukee Ballet performance. 
  • Miracle League of Wisconsin: The Miracle League allows all children to play organized baseball, regardless of ability. Kids with special-needs dress in uniforms, make plays in the field and round the bases, just like their peers in standard little leagues. All areas of the field, including the dugouts and restrooms, are universally accessible. 
  • Zachariah’s Acres: Zachariah’s Acres offers 48 pristine acres where kids with special needs and their families can enjoy nature and experience the outdoors and learn about agriculture and nature. (262) 825-3737 


Rights and Discrimination 

  • Adult Protective Services: Aid for elder adults and Adults-at-Risk who have been abused, neglected, or exploited. There are agencies and elder agencies in every county in Wisconsin. 
  • Arc Wisconsin: develops programs and advocates for public policy to give people with disabilities the opportunity to learn, live, and work inclusively in their communities. Through locally affiliated chapters (, the Arc provides social, recreational and educational programs to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families., 608.422.4250    
  • Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW): Helps people with disabilities gain access to services and supports through its advocacy and legal expertise. Training and rights protection. DRW helps people across Wisconsin gain access to services and opportunities through its advocacy and legal expertise. 800-928-8778 Resource Center: 
  • Family Voices of Wisconsin: is a statewide network of families who have children with special health care needs and disabilities and those who work on their behalf. Family Voices provides information, training and leadership opportunities so that families can be informed and effective partners in their children’s care and in influencing the systems that support them., 608.220.9598   
  • Wisconsin Families for Hands & Voices: provides support of and advocacy for families who have children who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind. Their mission is to create a comprehensive system of parents and professionals who are committed to the unbiased support of families to provide deaf, hard   of hearing and deafblind children with an education designed to support each child to reach their highest potential.  
  • Wisconsin Board for People with Development Disabilities: Advocates for the independence and inclusion of people with developmental disabilities through a series of projects, trainings, public policy work and funding opportunities available to the public., 608.266.7826   


Self-Advocacy and Leadership 



  • Wisconsin Association of Mobility Managers: Mobility Managers operate shared-ride taxi services, intercity buses, local transit and paratransit services, teach people how to use transit, coordinate trips between agencies, manage volunteer driver programs, educate communities about transportation options, organize van pools and carpools, run one call centers and more. 
  • Map of Wisconsin Public Transit Systems: 
  • Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT): People enrolled in certain Wisconsin benefit programs (including Medicaid) may be eligible for NEMT rides. 
  • Find Transportation options in your area: Contact your ADRC 
  • Transportation and Parking Resources: