GREENWICH — A Greenwich-based legal services nonprofit is accepting applications for grants to provide families of special education students with access to qualified attorneys.
The Special Education Legal Fund Inc. announced Monday that it would award grants of up to $5,000 for qualified families living in Connecticut or Westchester County, N.Y., for its Legal Assistance Program.
“Special Education Legal Fund (S.E.L.F.) provides resources and knowledge to families in need to promote full advocacy for children in the special education system,” a statement from the group said.
“Although a free and appropriate public education is a right guaranteed to all students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the realities of special education in the U.S. can be quite different,” the group says on its website. “Parents and educators may disagree on the appropriate education of a student with specific needs.”
S.E.L.F. was co-founded by two special education parents from Greenwich, Christine Lai and Ulrika Drinkall.
In addition to the geographic qualifications, families must have a child with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and an adjusted gross income of below 300 percent of the federal minimum poverty level.
In Connecticut, the cost of taking a special education case to a due process hearing can be over $50,000, the group said.
Since 2018, the fund has provided more than $275,000 to support families in Connecticut and New York. The group also supports special education families through its Parent Education Program and Agency Education Program, which provide resources to families navigating the special education system.
S.E.L.F. also provides services to English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Language Learner (ELL) populations through its Proyecto de Educacion Especial.
According to its website, S.E.L.F. was created to help level the playing field for parents navigating the special education system. For more information or to apply for a grant, visit spedlegalfund.org.
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