Advocating for inclusion in Christian schools…tips for parents

CLC2We’re looking at the topic of inclusion of kids with special education needs in this miniseries with Barb Newman and Elizabeth Dombrowski of CLC Network.

In Part One of the series, we discussed how CLC Network became involved in serving kids with disabilities in Christian schools in their home region of Western Michigan, and the obstacles they face in getting other Christian schools to pursue inclusion. Today, we’ll hear from Barb and Elizabeth on funding inclusive Christian education, and advice for parents who want their kids with special education needs to attend a Christian school.

C4EC: How do schools find the financial support to afford families an educational experience for their children who qualify for IEPs that is equal to (or better) than that offered by the public schools?

CLC Network: Each school has a unique plan. Some schools build in the needed money by simply making it part of the tuition each family pays. Some schools ask for donations or hold fundraisers that allow for those funds. Some schools have a foundation that keeps a good portion of the expenses funded. Some schools can access limited funds from the public school, depending on the district and needs of the children. The most important thing, however, is allowing the community to understand that this “inclusion” program does not just benefit the children with a disability. An inclusion program is about including everyone, and the benefits are for everyone. Isaac’s presence in that school has cost some money, and Isaac’s presence has benefitted nearly each child in the school. It’s money well spent, schools will agree.

C4EC: What advice would you give to the Christian parent who wants their child with special education needs to attend a faith-based school, but lives in a community where none of the local Christian schools are willing or equipped to meet their needs?

CLC Network: Perhaps the Isaac video is a great place to begin. Taking the administrator or key teacher out for lunch and sharing that video clip might be a great place for discussion. Giving them a copy of Barb’s books… Any Questions or Nuts and Bolts of Inclusive Education may also give them a picture of what it could look like in their school. A call to the Executive Director of CLC Network can also help that school imagine the possibilities. We also invite interested schools and parents to visit one of the schools partnered with CLC Network so they can see it in action in schools of varying size and backgrounds. Don’t recreate the wheel. Let us help! That’s the call God has placed on our organization, and we are eager to walk with Christian schools in this exciting journey. Remember it doesn’t take a huge investment—you and your school don’t have to have all the answers today. You might get a lot of “yes, but” answers in the beginning. If you and your school leaders can keep the big picture in mind, you can find a way to ensure your student is part of the community.

C4EC: CLC Network has developed some extensive resources for Christian schools seeking to better serve kids with learning differences. What resources do you make available for educators in Christian schools? How can they access those resources?

CLC Network: In addition to the books and DVD’s in our catalog, we have a library of professional development videos and an online Goals & Objectives program that can track the success of any student on an alternate learning path. Our eight Teacher Consultants draw on their experiences to provide customized advice to your school and your students. In addition, our four school psychologists provide in-depth evaluations, starting with each students’ gifts and providing a plan for success. We know there isn’t one plan that works for everyone, so we like to talk with you to identify what tools might be best for this point in your journey.

Next: Resources for Christian schools seeking to pursue inclusion 

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logoCLC Network is a nonprofit educational consulting firm helping schools and churches support people at all levels of ability and disability.  To contact CLC Network for a consultation, evaluation, or resources, call 616-245-8388 or visit www.clcnetwork.org.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
This entry was posted in Advocacy, Families, Hidden Disabilities, Inclusion, Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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