Home Educating Children with Learning Differences, Special Concerns and/or Medical Needs
Eagle’s Nest is dedicated to promoting a supportive, Christian-based environment to assist parents with the home education of their children. This includes the growing number of Eagle’s Nest families that are choosing to home educate our exceptional children. These families face daily situations and challenges that most families cannot comprehend or understand. It is the desire of Eagle’s Nest to provide resources to our families for support, encouragement and empowerment to complete our day to day tasks.
Making the decision to home educate any of your children should be one that is met with much prayer and consideration. However, making that decision for your child that has learning differences, special concerns and medical needs can be even more difficult and very overwhelming. However, once you have made the decision you will probably discover that the rewards for your child and to you and your family will exceedingly compensate for the challenges that you may face.
Because of additional factors home educating your child that has learning differences, special concerns and medical needs, it is strongly recommended that you consider joining one of the nationally recognized organizations that offer legal advice and support such as Home School Legal Defense Association.
Below are just a few topics that we feel may be beneficial to our family members of Eagle’s Nest. If you know of other programs or subject matters that would be advantageous, please feel free to contact us with the information so we can share with others.
For more information about homeschooling your child that learns different, has special concerns and medical needs, you may also want to visit the Home School Legal Defense Association’s website. They have numerous resources in the Struggling Learner section.
TEFRA/Katie Beckett Waivered Services
TEFRA/Katie Beckett Waivered Medicaid Services allows Georgia to make Medicaid services available to certain children with disabilities who would not ordinarily be eligible for Social Security Income (SSI) benefits because of their parents’ income. Income qualifications for TEFRA/“Katie Beckett” are based solely on the child’s income, but a number of different factors are considered for approval. If approved, the same eligibility for health coverage will be available to the child as other Medicaid members.
Eligibility for Medicaid under TEFRA/“Katie Beckett” will only be approved if ALL of the following conditions are met:
Child is 18 years of age or younger.
Child meets the federal criteria for childhood disability.
Child meets an institutional level of care criteria.
Even though the child may qualify for institutional care, it is appropriate to care for the child at home.
The Medicaid cost of caring for the child at home does not exceed the Medicaid cost of appropriate institutional care.
If you believe that your child may be eligible for this service, you will need to complete a TEFRA/Katie Beckett Waivered Medicaid Service packet that you can get from your local Department of Family & Children Services (DFCS) office.
This process is time consuming and may be overwhelming and frustrating. However the benefits that your child receives may be more important. There are several organizations that periodically offer training on TEFRA/Katie Beckett Waivered Services and we will be glad to support you as much as possible.
If your child does not qualify for TEFRA/Katie Beckett Waivered Services, there are other programs that may be able to help you such as Easter Seals Champions for Children.
For more information, visit https://dch.georgia.gov/tefra.
SIBSHOPS: For Brothers and Sisters of individuals with special concerns
The Moses Ministry of First Baptist Church sponsors Sibshops for brothers and sisters in our community that have a sibling with learning differences, special concerns or medical needs.
Brothers and sisters an opportunity to meet other siblings in a relaxed, recreational setting and realize that there are others that face similar situations.
Brothers and sisters to discuss common joys and concerns with other siblings of children with special concerns.
Brothers and sisters to learn how others handle situations commonly experienced by siblings of children with special concerns.
Brothers and sisters to learn more about the implications of their sibling’s special requirements.
Parents and other professionals with opportunities to learn more about the concerns and opportunities frequently experienced by brothers and sisters of people with special concerns.
Sibshops has two age groups: 3rd – 6th grades and 7th – 12th grades. Each Sibshop meets at First Baptist Church, Newnan once each semester during the school year.
For more information, visit http://fbcnewnan.org/
F.O.C.U.S., Families of Children Under Stress, provides respite for children with disabilities and special medical needs and their siblings monthly during the school year at Cornerstone Methodist Church in Thomas Crossroads. This is a free service; however, they do request a donation to cover costs. Contact F.O.C.U.S. directly at www.focus-ga.org.
Children that are being home educated by their parents may participate in Special Olympics with Coweta County Schools. For more information, please contact Coweta County Coordinator, Kelley Abercrombie, at 770-254-5546, ext. 203 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Below are just a few of the more common questions that parents ask when deciding to home educate their child with learning differences, special concerns and medical needs. Since the needs of each child and each family are so unique, please use these answers as examples only.
Do I have the right to home educate my child with learning differences, special concerns and medical needs?
YES! Parents who wish to home educate any of your children have the right to do so. This includes parents who presently have their child on an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) set up by their public school’s special education department. You will need to adhere to the GA state law concerning homeschooling any child.
Do I mark “Special Ed” on my letter of intent form?
NO! The law states that the declaration of intent must include the names and ages of the students (not birthdays), the address where the program is located, and the dates of the school year. If you receive a copy of the letter of intent from the GA Dept of Education’s website, there is a space for you to mark “Special Ed”, however, it is written in very small letters that this is optional and it is not required by state law. **Never share more information about your child than what is required.
Can a home educated student receive related services (speech, occupational and physical therapy) for their child through the school system?
Yes! GA law states that “For the purposes of IDEA, students enrolled in home study programs shall be deemed to be private school students and shall be provided with the same special education and related services as students in private schools.” (Code 1981, Section 20-2-159, enacted by Ga. L. 2002, p. 798, Section 1.) 20-2-159 Georgia Code Annotated. The Coweta County School Board of Education has deemed that more students need speech therapy, and this is the only service that is currently offered to students that are not registered in the district. **Most homeschool legal associations generally recommend that families obtain services provided by private organizations or individuals.
What is the process for eligibility through the public school system for my child to receive related services?
You will need to contact the local Special Education Department of your school system and have your child evaluated through a process called Child Find. This determines the needs of each child. The contact number in Coweta County is 770-254-2810.
What services are available to home educated students with learning differences, special concerns and medical needs?
Just like any child that is home educated, there are numerous resources available for each child and family. You may need to be creative to find services for the needs of your specific child.
Am I legally required to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for my child that is home educated if they would have one if they attended public school?
NO! The public school system uses IEPs to set up individual teaching plans, obtain related therapeutic services, and make needed transportation arrangements. Home educating offers individualized education for all students—not just students with learning differences, special concerns and medical needs. It is suggested by homeschool legal organizations that parents have a Student Education Plan (SEP) for every child. The SEP describes the goals that you have for each child and details the means by which your child can reach these goals.
“Our child was diagnosed at birth with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a deletion in the 15th chromosome, so this is a life-long, entire-body challenge for her. She has physical issues including constant hunger and the inability to control her food intake, slow metabolism, growth hormone deficiency, behavior issues, and more. She has definite learning differences although she is making slow, steady progress. She has some social challenges as well – she is not quite like the typical eight years old. The hardest thing with her disability is that at first glance she appears “normal,” so people have expectations of her and they don’t quite know how to handle it…when they spend a little time with her they find out she is . . . quirky (for lack of a better word!)” –EN Mom
“My son is 8 years old. He was adopted when he was 6 years old, almost 3 years ago. While in the public school for preK and Kindergarten, he was receiving speech therapy for a non-specific learning disability. In 1st grade, I brought him home to home school him. I immediately realized he did not just need speech therapy. Something else was going on, big time. So I began to research his “symptoms” and read everything I could. Diane Craft described him to a “T” but she didn’t give the disability a name. Eventually, after days and days of research on the internet and talking to people online, I found out about something called “audio processing disorder”. I realized this sound remarkably like him, so I took him to our ENT doctor to begin the process of having him diagnosed. Eventually, we had him tested and they confirmed that he has APD (both the receptive and expressive kind). They also believe that he has dyslexia. I suspect that he also has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can cause many LD’s.” –EN Mom
“We have always homeschooled our daughter with Down syndrome from the day that she was born. By homeschooling her, we can find curriculum that is designed to be effective with children that have an intellectual disability or we have altered existing curriculum. Either way, we are able to find what will help her to reach her highest potential. We tried therapy services through the school system, but found that the therapy was not enough and was geared more towards the masses instead of her specific needs. We use private therapists now and she is doing very well. It wears me out sometimes taking her to all of them, but looking at the big picture, it is what is best for her. If we were not homeschooling, we would not be able to take advantage of many opportunities that are offered just because of time.” EN Mom