ATLANTA - There are new resources are available for families with students living with disabilities.
The Georgia Department of Early Childcare and Learning has provided financial assistance to families throughout the pandemic, but the program now has an even larger scope.
Parenting is hard enough, let alone trying to juggle a job and educate a child virtually during a pandemic. Some students require special attention. A Georgia department recognizes that and says assistance could be just a few clicks and an application away.
When the state shut down for stay-at-home orders in early March 2020, Little Ones Learning Center in Clayton County went from 170 enrolled students to eight.
"We decided to limit ourselves to families of essential workers only," the facility's executive director, Wande Okunoren-Meadows, said.
Okunoren-Meadows said families in the neighborhood were so burdened by the pandemic, they asked her childcare center for food.
That's why the Georgia Department of Early Childcare and Learning has provided financial assistance to families in the form of the SOLVE scholarship since the start of the pandemic.
"Parents are incurring having to stay at home if they're able to do that or having to pay to send their child somewhere so they can do their distanced learning while they work," Deputy Commissioner for Federal Programs, Elisabetta Kasfir said.
Originally, only families with students aged 5 to 12 were eligible.
Now, under the new expansion, children and young adults aged 5 to 22 with disabilities whose school systems offer primarily virtual learning can apply for SOLVE, which stands for Supporting Onsite Learning for Virtual Education.
Those disabilities include but are not limited to intellectual disabilities, speech, hearing, and sight impairments, autism, and brain injuries.
Families with students with disabilities do not have a financial requirement to meet, but any approved families could save hundreds or thousands of dollars.
The average scholarship for families without disabilities is $118 a week for three months.
Families with children with disabilities receive on average $170, respectively.
The money goes straight to the family's childcare facility of choice.
"They might charge $250 a week and if they have a child with a disability and they're getting 170 a week, that'd be roughly 700 for that $1000 a month," Kasfir said.
Families of students living with disabilities are required to provide proof of their child's special needs.
That can include a written diagnosis from a licensed medical professional an IEP, or individualized education program, an individualized family services plan, a Medicaid waiver, or an individual accommodation plan that indicates how the child's learning is impacted.
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