dtudent with disability in Chicago IL
Chicago’s low-income families of students with disabilities eligible for new $500 grants

Chicago’s municipal government, under the leadership of Mayor Brandon Johnson, has allocated funds from pandemic relief. These funds are meant to provide financial assistance to students with disabilities from economically disadvantaged households. On Tuesday, it was announced that eligible families can apply for a $500 grant, and up to 8,000 individuals will benefit.

The Initiative

It’s an initiative known as the Diverse Learners Recovery Fund , which was made possible by the partnership between the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and Ada S. McKinley Community Services. It’s also made possible by the $5 million allocated to Chicago through American Rescue Plan funding.

One of the many beneficiaries of this fund is Sherry Henry, a resident of Hyde Park and mother to a 12-year-old son with Autism. Like many families, the Henrys have faced challenges with their internet access during remote schooling, hindering their son’s ability to attend virtual classes and resulting in his failure in a math course.

How the grant has assisted

Though they were fortunate enough to not incur additional costs for services, Sherry sees the opportunity to use this grant towards purchasing supplies that can assist her son with his sensory integration disorder – difficulty with sensory sensitivity.

This includes specialized footwear and recently acquired tennis rackets to aid in improving his grip.

Application and approval process

The application and approval process for financial assistance is available to parents and guardians of students with disabilities in the city of Chicago. Eligible applicants must have a household income not exceeding federal poverty level, which amounts to $93,600.

Another requisite is applicants must also provide documentation showing that their child is receiving school services, such IEP or 504 plan, or a doctor’s certification confirming their child’s disability.

During the pandemic that occurred in recent years, students with disabilities were deprived of their legally mandated school services outlined in an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  As reported by a thorough investigation conducted by Chalkbeat, Chicago Public Schools had failed to assess and provide appropriate support for these students.

The school district’s neglect resulted in over 10,050 incomplete reevaluations, initial evaluations, and annual reviews of student IEPs during the 2019-20 academic year. This number was three times higher than the previous school year’s statistics, marking a significant regression in meeting the needs of students with disabilities.

Parents Remark

Parents have expressed their happiness towards the city’s initiative of providing grants. These grants will reduce families’ financial burden related to medical bills, food costs, and transportation to therapy services. To apply for these grants, families will be selected through a randomized lottery system. Interested families can submit their applications through the website or by texting “AdaMOPD” to (877) 478-1359.

There are boundless opportunities for individuals with Autism to accomplish great things when given the proper support and assistance.

This is why at Illinois Autism Center, our professionals are committed to providing comprehensive care, tailored specifically for Autistic children to help them reach their highest potential.