We interviewed Christine Lai, co-founder and executive director of the Special Education Legal Fund (S.E.L.F.), a Connecticut-based nonprofit that advocates for children in the special education system throughout the Tri-Border region and beyond. We wanted to know more about this great organization and let parents know how to contact them. S.E.L.F. provides grants to needy families with children in the special education system through its flagship legal aid program for legal assistance from a lawyer qualified in special education. S.E.L.F. also provides parenting and education to families in Connecticut, New York and beyond through its Parent Education Webinar Series and its Proyecto de Educación Especial, an innovative special education, civics, and communication program offered to ESL/ELL families in seven languages (Spanish, Creole, Portuguese, Polish, French, Chinese and Arabic) in person and on our website. S.E.L.F. also provides training to non-profit organizations that serve members of our community on a variety of special education topics and issues. Finally, through the Advocacy Support Program (Fairfield County, Connecticut only), LLP provides grants to families who need advocacy support for their students as part of an IEP or 504 plan. S.E.L.F. provides needy families with children in the special education system with grants for legal assistance from a qualified special education advocate through its flagship legal aid program. S.E.L.F. also provides parenting and educational education to families in Connecticut, New York and beyond through its Parent Education Webinar Series and Proyecto de Educación Especial, an innovative special education, civics, and communication program offered to ESL/ELL families in seven languages (Spanish, Creole, Portuguese, Polish, French, Chinese and Arabic) in person and on our website.
The mission of the Special Education Legal Fund is to create a level playing field for needy families with children in special schools. S.E.L.F. provides knowledge and resources to enable families to fully, effectively and independently represent the interests of their students. Every day, CPAC`s parenting counsellors provide personalized training, support and accountability to parents and professionals who come to us with questions about their children`s and students` education. We offer free educational programs for families and educators throughout the state. We offer a wide range of online training and information accessible on our website and via social media. We work with a variety of partners to reach families, youth and educators to find and address issues in the education and transition of students and youth from birth to age 26. CPAC is comprised of parents of children with disabilities who have personal education and experience with disability law and issues. All families will have the confidence, knowledge and understanding they need to advocate effectively for their children and work with professionals to ensure children and youth grow up and reach their full potential.
WORKING WITH FAMILIES DURING THE INTRODUCTION OF THE NEW INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) Always send an email to your school team – never discuss anything in person unless you follow up with an email that gives you a timestamp of your communication and provides proof that you have made a request or declaration. During meetings, always ask to record your CSE meeting – if you`re afraid of looking too confrontational, you can say you`re having trouble taking notes during your meeting and you`ll need to check back afterwards to make sure you`ve done everything right. Or you can say that your husband/wife/partner cannot attend the meeting and you need to record for him/her. All Children Learn is a free resource for parents to find the right schools and local providers. The ACL search engine allows parents and caregivers to search for providers based on their child`s individual needs. S.E.L.F serves needy families defined by adjusted gross income less than 300% of the federal minimum poverty line in Connecticut (all school districts) and Westchester County. Students must have an IEP to apply for the Legal Assistance Program and an IEP or 504 plan plus Fairfield County Residence to apply for the Advocacy Support Program. The mission of the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center is to educate, support, and empower diverse families of children and adolescents with disabilities and chronic illnesses as young as 26 and the professionals who serve them.