Deadline approaching: Reimbursement for special education services in GA

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 7:43 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Parents of children with special needs are eligible to receive reimbursement for educational expenses; however, there’s only one more day left to apply.

While educating children during the pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, parents with special needs children faced different obstacles.

“It was especially hard, there were some unique challenges,” said Hannah Heck.

Heck, who’s son has downs syndrome, says there is a wide spectrum of children with special needs. “Students who have special needs within the schools get an individualized educational learning plan because of their needs and how education is delivered to them...all is different.”

The Georgia Department of Education is offering parents with special needs children up to $500 of reimbursement for educational expenses.

Michael O’Sullivan, executive director of Georgia Can, a non-profit that advocates for students, says parents have to meet these requirements in order to qualify:

“You have a student with an individualized education plan, you were enrolled in a Georgia public school last year that you’re able to prove through receipt or some form of documentation,” O’Sullivan explained.

Parents like Brandy Dawson, who has children with special needs, but doesn’t qualify because she homeschools, says the pandemic has been just as hard for her family. “As a homeschooler, we already put out more expenses than the average parent anyways.”

Sullivan says they tried their best to get the information out to everyone.

“The governor’s office sent out press releases, our organization, Georgia Can, - we’ve utilized social media and tried to do town halls.”

But many parents in Columbus say they didn’t know anything about the ability to get reimbursed for expenses involving educating their special needs kids. They say the state needs to find a better way of informing parents.

“And more publicizing about the resources that are out there because they are there, just hidden,” Dawson added.

Sullivan says the reimbursement application has been available since may and has been extended once already.

Click here to fill out a reimbursement application.

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