The Child & Family Law Center
A Division of Grund & Leavitt P.C.
Summer 2021
~ In this Issue ~

Special Education Issues:
Extended Services to Transition Age Students,
Returning to School: New CDC Guidelines,
Mental Health Days as a Reason to Miss School

Family Law:
Divorce Checklist
Upcoming Webinars and Presentations:
Starting the School Year with the BEST IEP
Divorce Considerations When Your Child Has Special Needs

The Child and Family Law Center: A Division of Grund & Leavitt
Extended Services to
Transition Age Students

The pandemic wreaked havoc on educational programs for many students. For students who were transition age and turning 22 the impact was enormous. Recent legislation enacted by the Illinois General Assembly were designed to ameliorate the unique challenges faced by this group of students.

HB40 impacts students who turn 22 during the school year by allowing them to continue to receive special education services until the end of that school year rather than until the day before their 22nd birthday.

HB2748 titled “COVID-19 post-secondary transition recovery eligibility”, provides an extended period of IEP services for students who turned 22 during the time in which the student’s in-person instruction, services or activities were suspended for a period of 3 months or more during the school year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who fit these criteria are eligible for services through the end of the regular 2021-2022 school year.

Who does not qualify for these services:
  • Students who are no longer residents of the district they attended when they turned 22.
  • School districts are not required to resume private their private therapeutic day or residential services for students who have aged out of the program or when funding for the placement is no longer available.

IEP teams are required to work on the goals that were in place when the student turned 22. At their discretion IEP teams can revise goals and set priorities as needed to meet the student’s transition needs. 
Returning to School: New CDC Guidance         

  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools on July 9, 2021:

  •  Return to in person learning is a priority
  •  Promoting vaccination is important.
  •  Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physically distancing cannot be maintained. * [ Schools are still working on the details of how.]
  • CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully reopen while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other strategies, such as indoor masking.
  • Screening, testing, ventilation, hand-washing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contract tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
  • Stay home when they have any signs of infectious illness.
  • Many schools serve children under 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies consistently) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated, especially in areas of high community transmission levels.

The Illinois State Board of Education has fully adopted these guidelines. The Guidance for Schools is Evolving. We will keep you updated as we get new information.
Mental Health Days as a Reason
to Miss School

           On May 30, 2021, SB1577 passed both houses and was sent to the governor for signature on June 26, 2021. This bill amends the School Code to reflect that the mental or behavioral health of a student is “valid cause” for absence from school. The most recent amendment would allow parents to keep their student home from school for the mental or behavioral health of the child for up to 5 days for which the child need not provide a medical note. The bill also provides that the mental health or behavioral health absence will be considered an excused absence and the student will be given an opportunity to make up their missed schoolwork.
           While this may be helpful to some students and families the trend toward an upswing in mental health concerns from students at all grades is the real story. There is much discussion on the impact of the pandemic on student’s mental health issues the trend was developing well before the recent shutdowns.
           A few facts about mental health disorders in children according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
           ADHD, behavioral problems, anxiety, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. Many of these disorders occur together.
  • 9.4% of children aged 2-7 years (approximately 6.1 million) have received an ADHD diagnosis.
  • 7.4% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.5 million) have a diagnosed behavioral problem.
  • 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety.
  • 3.2 % of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have diagnosed depression.
           It is often difficult for parents to access treatment and early diagnosis. Schools can and should provide screening for mental health and behavioral issues as part of routine screening procedures. They should work proactively to reduce or remove the stigma around these issues. Regrettably, in my experience as a special education attorney schools are reactive, meaning unless it is a big problem it doesn’t get addressed early.

What can parents do?
  • Don’t wait.
  • Ask for help.
  • Share information.
  • Request an evaluation from the school in writing.
  • Involve your child’s pediatrician.
  • Get a referral to a mental health professional. 
Divorce Checklist

           It is not uncommon for someone to consult with our office when they are just beginning to contemplate the possibility of divorce. Often, they want basic information about the legal process and their rights as well as advice on how to prepare for such a major life event. My clients have found it helpful to have a checklist that they can have on hand as a reference. It has been my experience that being organized helps in developing a plan and is useful in calming some client’s anxiety. Below is a checklist and although it is something that may vary from case to case it does provide a framework for people contemplating divorce.

1.   Your child or children’s names and dates of birth. If there are special needs considerations that will impact aspects of the divorce it is important that those are detailed to your lawyer.
2.   Date and location of marriage or civil union.
3.   Your spouse’s name and employer.
4.   Information regarding your spouse or your being self-employment where applicable.
5.   Your employer’s name. Current income.
6.   The last three years of your tax returns. Mortgage statements on the marital residence.
7.   A copy of any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.
8.   A summary of your debts.
9.   Vehicles.
10. A list of property including retirement accounts owed before the marriage.
11. A list of property, including retirement accounts accumulated during the marriage.
12. Expenses for the children. (e.g. tuition, camps, tutoring)
13. Vacation property.
14. A list of any stock, stock options or investment accounts.
15. An estimated monthly budget that should include all costs including utilities, insurance. This is an important tool in determining what the financial future holds for you and your family.
16. An inventory of the personal property in your home. (e.g. art, furniture, electronics)

Non-Financial Issues

17.  Mental Health concerns for either party that will impact parenting time or decision making.
18. Health concerns.
19. Parenting Plan proposals.
20. Decision Making (shared, sole)
21.  Post-divorce plans and vision for what post-divorce life will look like for your family.

           Not all of these things will be resolved immediately. Divorce is a process. It is always best if the parties can work together on these matters but that isn’t always possible. Regardless of the posture of your case it is essential that both parties be fully informed about the financial and child related issues in order to make the best decisions for the family.
           If you are exploring the possibility of divorce, already committed to divorcing or have post-decree issues please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Our office is dedicated to advocating for the best outcomes for children and families. Call (312)-640-0500 or email me at Consultations are available in person or by Zoom. Safety protocols are followed.

Starting the School Year with the Best IEP:
An Interactive Discussion and Q&A that will help ensure
that the school year is off to a good start.
           August 16, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. via Zoom.

Divorce Considerations When Your Child Has Special Needs
     Presentation by Micki Moran followed by a Q&A.
           September 22, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. via Zoom.
Click here to Register for one or both of these webinars
IAASE Virtual Fall Conference "No Room at the Inn: Meeting the Needs of Students who Require Residential Placement

More information soon with additional details. October 21, 2021 time TBD
Call our office for a consultation to see if we can be of help
regarding your special education issues.

Micki Moran
The Child & Family Law Center of the North Shore
A Division of Grund & Leavitt, P.C.
600 Central Avenue, Suite 248
Highland Park, IL 60035
Phone 312-640-0500
Fax 847-681-1295