Parents of Children with Special Needs Need Special Skills
August 2021
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AJE news, events, and resources to help you feel informed and ready for the new school year!

As the start of the 2021/22 school year approaches during this second summer of the COVID-19 response, AJE hopes all our readers are safe and well.

This newsletter has information for the first day of school and beyond, including some opportunities to earn thank you gift cards by participating in focus groups and surveys, so much sure you scroll down!


Is your child enrolled for the school year 2021/22?

If you are still looking for a school for the upcoming school year, please don't forget that your neighbor DCPS school should accept your student without an application; if the neighborhood can not implement a student's IEP, they may be moved to another DCPS school). You can also do a post lottery application; more information about the application and waiting lists is available here from MySchoolDC.
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Is transportation set up for your child?

We have information about Kids Ride Free here and you can request a Kids Ride Free SmarTrip Card from your School ID Administrator at your school.

More information about Kids Ride Free is here: English | Spanish (Español) | Chinese (中文) | Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt)

If your student receives transportation from OSSE-DOT, right now is a good time to make sure that OSSE-DOT has all the right information, and that your child's school, or LEA (Local Educational Agency) if they attend a nonpublic school, has updated their information, if needed. Remember that DC does not have one centralized location for student data, so if you move or have another change (like a new drop-off location) you may need to make sure that OSSE-DOT has the correct information, as it may not have been automatically updated.

OSSE-DOT is sending letters home to families whose school/LEA has not yet submitted a Transportation Request Form (or TRF). If you get this letter, you need to contact your child's school/LEA and ask them to immediately submit a Transportation Request Form. Also, please remember that OSSE-DOT will not accept student information or Transportation Request Forms directly from parents, so you MUST ask your school or LEA to complete it. It can take anywhere from several days to two weeks for OSSE-DOT to go from receiving at TRF to having a bus ready for students so please do not delay in contacting your school/LEA if you receive this letter from OSSE-DOT.

If your student may need an exception to the OSSE-DOT masking policy, we suggest confirming now that all of the documentation for that mask exemption is properly reflected in the IEP and that OSSE-DOT is fully aware of it. Parents may want to review OSSE-DOT's letter to schools about the mask exemption policy. AJE is also happy to answer any questions about masking at school or on the bus for students with disabilities.

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Is your child fully vaccinated?

Use vaccinate.dc.gov to make an appointment to get your child’s required immunizations at 37 sites across DC. You can schedule your children ages 3-18 years-old for their routine childhood vaccinations that are needed to go back to school. Appointments can be made at any of the participating school sites, regardless of where the student actually attends school.

Additionally, you have the option to add on a COVID-19 vaccine at the time of scheduling. The COVID-19 vaccine is not currently required for eligible students, but is strongly recommended.

Reminder: DC law and regulations require all schools in the District to verify student compliance with immunization requirements as part of enrollment and attendance. For more information about the District’s Immunization Attendance Policy, please visit the OSSE website or the DC Health Immunization Program website.
Events and Resources from AJE & in the Community
AJE Distance Learning Focus Group – Thursday, August 19th!

AJE wants to hear from you!

We will be hosting our third focus group on August 19th. The purpose of the focus group is to discuss the impact that the policies created during Distance Learning had on families. The aim is to help develop parent-led strategic plans to address some of these policies.

If this is something that you would be interested in attending click the link on the flyer to register, or you can follow this link to register.

Spaces are limited so registration is required.
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Do You Need Help Talking to your Health Care Provider about the Return to In-person School?

The Administration for Community Living has been working with a group of federal and non-federal partners to develop a COVID-19 decision guide for families with children with special health care needs, and they are seeking the assistance of DC families with beta testing this decision guide, you can find it here, or at AJE's blog here.
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Summer Meals!

Please see this list for summer meals sites and grocery distribution sites for DC youth.

If you have questions about other food programs, please see here - https://coronavirus.dc.gov/food#6

Transition Resources

AJE families with youth how are 14 or above and thinking about transition planning, may want to look at AJE's updates from REAL Transition resources, available here and updated monthly. Also, don't forget to look at our social media for #TransitionTuesday posts! The buttons below make it easy to follow us!!
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Did you know that Homeschooling is legal in DC? And that you MUST register with OSSE?

COVID-19 and distance learning has lead to an increase in interest around homeschooling. AJE has a great blog post about homeschooling DC, which you can find here. You can also listen to AJE staff member Maria Blaeuer talk with OSSE's Stephanie Thomas about homeschooling and OSS's role here.

Students with disabilities who are eligible for services under IDEA via an IEP or who have a 504 Plan are not able to access services in DC as homeschooling students. Eligible students with disabilities who are in private schools may be able to access equitable services, but homeschooling students can not. However, DCPS does still have an obligation to identify, locate and evaluation all students, including homeschooled students, who are suspected of having a disability. This DCPS pamphlet has more information.

Please contact AJE if you would support or information about navigating that process or anything else connected to homeschooling in DC.
Surveys and Focus Groups (many paid) for families

AJE's website has numerous opportunities for families to share their experiences with researchers and other professionals. A few are listed below -


We frequently share opportunities for families to share their experiences, so check back often!
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Need help affording internet access? Lok at the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program!

There is a new federal program to assist families with internet costs—It is called the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB).


What is the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB)?

The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a temporary Federal Government subsidy program designed to help low-income households connect to the Internet and stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. This benefit provides eligible customers of participating broadband providers up to a $50/month ($75/month for Tribal lands) credit toward Internet service and leased Internet equipment for the duration of the program. It will last for as long as the Federal Government funds the program. The amount of the credit depends on the rate for the Internet service that you choose.

If you’re an Internet Essentials customer, you qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit and simply need to enroll in the program. Other qualifying criteria include a household member’s qualification for the Lifeline program (such as Medicaid and SNAP), free and reduced-price school lunch program, or if the household experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020.

Click here for more information. In addition, we also suggest contacting your internet provider to see if you qualify and can apply through their website.
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Text AJE to 202-953-4355 to join our Text list

Join AJE's text list for updates and announcements about events, resources, and trainings specific to you. In order to receive these updates, you have to opt-in by texting AJE to 202-953-4355 (this is a different process than joining our email list). Messaging rates apply.

Text AJE to 22828 to join our E-list

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DC Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC) is seeking Councilmembers

The DC Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC) seeks to strengthen the voice of people with developmental disabilities and their families in DC in support of greater independence, inclusion, empowerment, and the pursuit of life as they choose. DDC strives to create change that eliminates discrimination and removes barriers to full inclusion through our advocacy.

If this sounds like something you also want to work toward, please see our post for more information about applying!
Legal Resources for DC residents

There is a new COVID-19 resources page at www.LawHelp.org/DC that has information about legal resources and social services available in the District of Columbia during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

This “one-stop-shop” of useful information can help answer questions about:

About AJE:
Advocates for Justice and Education is the federally designated Parent Training and Information Center and the Health Information Center for DC. AJE seeks to empower families, youth, and the community to be effective advocates to ensure that children and youth, particularly those who have special needs, receive access to appropriate education and health services.
 
Our passion is empowering families by equipping parents and students with disabilities with the tools they need to be their own advocates.

Have questions? We are here to educate, advocate and empower. Contact us today!
Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc.| (P) 202.678.8060 | (F) 202.678.8062 |

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