Charleston CAN

Collaborative Action Network

About Charleston CAN

Strengthening Community for Special Needs and Disabilities

Charleston CAN is a network of self advocates, service providers, families, caregivers, and professionals committed to making Charleston a better place to live and work for individuals with disabilities. We believe that through partnerships, cooperation, and local advocacy, Charleston can be a more equitable and inclusive community to live.

Our strength comes from individuals and organizations working together to create strong communities.
CharlestonCAN is not a formal organization; instead, it is a network of partners working together as a coalition with common goals.

We believe the best way to increase services, programs, access, opportunities, and resources in our community for individuals with special needs and disabilities are through collaboration and partnership.

Instead of creating new organizations to fill gaps in our community, we address community needs by linking organizations together, leveraging available resources to expand capacity, and advocating for system and policy change.


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Education Workgroup

Our research recognized the importance and challenge of school transition services. Instead of creating a new school transition work group, we partnered with an existing effort to improve school transition led by Charleston County Schools representatives and other key community stakeholders such as The City of Charleston, The Citadel, the College of Charleston, Trident Technical College, Synergy Support Services, South Carolina Commission for the Blind & the Transition Alliance of South Carolina.

Goal Statement:

  • To ensure young adults and adults of all levels of disabilities seamlessly transition to and are engaged in appropriate and meaningful adult services and opportunities in the education and the world of work.

  1. In partnership with the school district, improve process and ease of transitioning youth from children’s services to adult services

  2. Empower persons with disabilities and/or their caregivers to take proper planning decisions for the future care and supports

  • Address the gap of adult support.

  1. Increase access availability of meaningful adult day services

  2. Engage local businesses in creating and implementing an innovative model of meaningful employment for individuals with disabilities that utilizes and maximizes their skills and potential

For more information in regards to Education and School Transitions or to share your voice please contact:

John Bracy at: [email protected]

Employment Workgroup

The Employment workgroup formed as a subgroup of Transitioning Through Adulthood and is focused on increasing employment opportunities for individuals with special needs and disabilities.

Currently, we are identifying existing employment opportunities, programs and services, barriers to employment, and partners.

For more information in regards to the Employment Workgroup or to share your voice please contact:

Jeff Stotler at: [email protected]

Employment Action Plan
Disability Etiquette Guide

Collective Action Through Collaboration & Partnerships

Adaptive Expeditions
Art Institute of Charleston
Beyond Basic
Carolina Life
Charleston County Board of Disabilities
Charleston County School District
Charleston Southern University
City of Charleston
Clemson Life
Coastal Carolina Life
College of Charleston
Family Connection of South Carolina
Family Resource Center for Disabilities and Special Needs

Gavalas Kolanko Foundation
Healing Farms
Lowcountry Autism Consortium
Medical University of South Carolina
Palmetto Youth Connections
South Carolina Assistive Technology for Transition Program
South Carolina Commission for the Blind
South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs
South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation
Springboard Consulting LLC
Synergy Supportive Services LLC
Trident Technical College
Winthrop Think College


After consideration of all the levels of resources for those with disabilities, it became obvious that while each was operating well there was no collaboration.  A “silo-effect” prevented groups and service providers from working together.  Without a collaborative effort, there is a lost opportunity to rise to a higher level of service within the community.

Early in August of 2014, the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation invited family members, media, service providers, educators, City of Charleston officials, and interested parties to promote the idea of working together to better serve the communities needs and the status quo. These 25 attendees unanimously agreed this collaborative effort would be in the best interest of the community.

On October 31st, 2014, Mike Teachey, leading spokesperson for GreenvilleCAN, came to help facilitate the early foundation and implementation of CharlestonCAN.  Teams were formed and leaders were chosen with an agreement, each team would meet monthly with all teams meeting on a quarterly basis.

Your Community CAN!

Our hope is that every county in South Carolina will develop a Collaborative Action Network to strengthen its community for special needs and disabilities.  CharlestonCAN was established following the model used to create GreenvilleCAN.  Together, GreenvilleCAN and CharlestonCAN will be able to learn from each community’s success and challenges.

If your community is interested in replicating the CAN model please contact Mike Teachey, Lead Facilitator for GreenvilleCAN at [email protected] or Mike Stutts, Lead Facilitator for CharlestonCAN at [email protected]

We Want to Hear from You… Contact Us

Charleston CAN is a coalition and by staying informed and sharing your voice, you are part of that coalition.  If you have questions, need more information, have ideas to share, experience accessibility challenges, want to share a great experience with a business that is disability friendly, etc., please contact Mike Stutts at [email protected]

New Diagnosis?

One Step at at Time…

Learning for the first time that your child has a developmental delay, disability, or other condition that may affect their intellectual and / or physical development can be very overwhelming. Parents and guardians who have been through this before often say, “if only I knew then what I know now, things would have be a lot easier.”

The information below is a compilation of recommendations and helpful tips from parents and professionals to help you navigate the systems of support, know what to do next, and connect with beneficial services.

Helpful Tips:

  • You are your child’s biggest advocate and sometimes only advocate so speak up and let your voice be heard. Knowledge is power so be prepared to be an active participant in your child’s care, services and school.
  • Don’t put limits on your child. When you receive new medical diagnoses, you will often hear the worst- case scenario for outcomes but that doesn’t paint your child’s picture.
  • You always have options and choices when it comes to the care of your child so don’t be afraid to find a new provider if you aren’t pleased with the one assigned to your child.
  • Go up the “chain of command” when you aren’t getting the information or answer that you need. Ask for a supervisor. There are all levels of experience and clout within the human service provider system so seek out an experienced veteran to help you if you get stuck.

Next Steps:

Below are possible next steps for you to consider to get started in identifying services and support for your child. Don’t feel like you need to call each one right now. Read through these suggestions and start with the one that seems most appropriate for your needs. Each organization on this list will have information that can help guide you through this process.

Contact South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs

South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (SCDDSN). SCDDSN is the state agency that plans, develops, oversees and funds services for South Carolinians with severe, lifelong disabilities of intellectual disability, autism, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury and conditions related to each of these four disabilities. Call 1-888-DSN-INFO (376-4636) and visit,

To request eligibility determination over age three, call 1-800-289-7012.

Contact South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS)

Contact South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) about South Carolina’s Medicaid program, called Healthy Connections, a health insurance program that pays medical bills for eligible low-income families and individuals whose income is insufficient to meet the cost of necessary medical services. “Katie Beckett” TEFRA is managed by Healthy Connections and provides benefits to certain children with disabilities who would not ordinarily be eligible because their parents’ income and/or resources exceed the limit. Visit or call 1-800-318-2596 and visit for more information.

Contact South Carolina DHEC’s Children with Special Health Care Needs

DHEC’s CSHCN division serves “children and youth who have or are at risk for chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally.”  Services include information and referral; care coordination and financial assistance with payment for medical services, supplies and equipment.

CARELINE at (800) 868-0404 (8am-6pm M-F) (864) 372-3064

Call Family Connection of South Carolina

Call Family Connection of SC, a statewide nonprofit organization that connects families of children with special healthcare needs, disabilities or chronic illnesses with resources, support and education. Family Connection provides support to parents with a child or family member with any special healthcare need and is a family-to-family network with statewide offices to educate, inspire and empower families and their children to live rich, fulfilling lives in spite of many challenges. Contact 1-800-578-8750 and visit

Call SC Autism Society (SCAS)

If your child received an Autism Diagnosis, contact the SC Autism Society (SCAS). SCAS provides information to parents and professionals about autism and available services and offers Case Management to individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Visit and call (800) 438-4790.

Cerebral Palsy?… Check out the CP Tool Kit

The CP Tool Kit was designed to help you better understand and cope with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Created by parents of children with CP and leading experts in the CP field, this tool kit guides you through the initial diagnosis period, offering practical advice and relating first hand experiences to help you during this time. We know this time is difficult for you and your family. You are not alone. You may download a free digital copy of The CP Tool Kit by going to the CP NOW website and signing up for our mailing list: www.cpnowfoundation org. You may also purchase printed copies via Amazon: