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Sometimes helping a child overcome a disability is like piecing together a quilt. Here is an example of how little steps and persistence can create a "pattern" for success.

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Tri-County Special Education Association provides area school districts with reliable access to specialized student services.  In brief, member districts provide all educational programs, including special education programs, and Tri-County supports the effective implementation of district programs. 


Support services available through Tri-County include student evaluation, administration, program supervision, professional development, and related services such as Occupational and Physical Therapy, Psychological and Social Work Services, Speech-Language Services, and Assistive Technology.  Many specialized services are provided through partnerships with member districts, other educational organizations, and community agencies..

Service options for students who have, or are suspected of having, disabilities are most comprehensive, but Tri-County’s services are sometimes helpful for any or all students on a limited basis.   Member districts implement an instructional approach called Response to Intervention, or RtI.  Building upon the collaborative problem solving initiatives of the past, RtI is important for meeting the learning needs of all students early and often—well before special education becomes necessary.

Tri-County regularly offers a comprehensive set of professional development opportunities to area educators, parents, and community members. Find out more.  Professional development is improved through collaboration with the Heart of Illinois Low Incidence Association and community providers of services to people with disabilities.

Finally, Tri-County helps districts to identify and adapt specialized instructional materials, methods, and tools to the needs of area students.  This service allows member districts to identify and try out new interventions before making a long-term commitment or a large investment of district resources.


Tri-County Special Education Association was established in 1967 to help school districts in McLean, DeWitt and Logan Counties meet the special education needs of students, parents, educators and administrators. Today, the association employs a staff of approximately 50 people as administrators, supervisors, social workers, psychologists, occupational or physical therapists or assistants, secretaries and speech-language pathologists. Tri-County maintains offices in Bloomington, Clinton and Lincoln.

Our Mission

 Tri-County Special Education Association provides a comprehensive array of specialized services on behalf of its member districts, enabling students who have, or are at-risk of, disabilities to achieve age-appropriate outcomes and to be meaningfully included in the life of their schools and communities. Tri-County supports its member districts by providing related services to students enrolled in special education programs; by offering professional development and consultation services to educators and family members; by collaborating with district personnel to implement effective educational programs for diverse learners; by identifying and providing access to educational resources; and by forming partnerships with outside organizations that enhance the range and quality of special programs, improve outcomes for students and families, and promote cost-effective service delivery. Services are grounded in the practice of collaborative problem solving and are organized around the values of diversity, creativity, individualization, and integrity.

Tri-County is a decentralized cooperative. This means that member districts provide special education programs to students with disabilities, while the cooperative provides support services to districts, students and families. Support services might include therapeutic intervention or consultation, administration, student assessment, program consultation, or professional development.

Just as 15 member districts belong to Tri-County, Tri-County is a member of the Heart of Illinois Low Incidence Association.

Heart of Illinois Low Incidence Association (HILIA)

( NOTE: Low-incidence disabilities are those that affect a comparatively small number of students in a district.)

HILIA is a regional program that combines resources to effectively meet the needs of students with low incidence disabilities including hearing, vision, and motor disabilities. HILIA exists as a collaboration between Tri-County Special Education Association, Mackinaw Valley Special Education, Bloomington District #87, Livingston County Special Services Unit, and Illinois State University Laboratory Schools.

The Illinois State University Laboratory Schools (Thomas Metcalf School and University High School) provide special education instructional programs for students with hearing or vision disabilities. Lisa Kendall coordinates those programs. Three HILIA facilitators support the unique needs of these students in lab school or district programs: Deb Trissel (hearing), Jan Harrell (vision), and Jodi Nibbelin (Assistive Technology and Motor).

In addition, a document titled Helping Students with Physical or Sensory Impairments Succeed in the Classroom is available which explains HILIA services and provides contact information.

For inquiries about HILIA programs and services, please contact your local building principal or Tri-County Special Education Association Supervisor.