Senate approves vouchers for parents of special education kids - - Jackson, MS

Senate approves vouchers for parents of special education kids

RIDGELAND, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

There's no one size fits all education for special needs children. But a Senate bill passed Thursday giving their parents a way to explore the best options, without breaking the bank.

Cheri Bergeron is the mom of two special needs daughters. Both had strokes before they were born.

"With a child with special needs, there's always more therapy that can be done," said Bergeron. "Every parent feels like they're not doing enough even when they're doing as much as they possibly can."

The importance of choice hit home when it was time now eight year old, Madeline, to go to school.

"I thought the public schools would be better just because they had more resources and they are more equipped in dealing with special needs kids," she said. "But because Madeline was going to be so mild. And because she could do all of what they consider necessary like walk down the hall and that sort of thing, she wasn't going to get any of the therapy."

So they chose a private school. If the Senate bill makes its way into law, parents could get more than $6,000 dollars to transfer their special needs child to a private school.

"It all depends on their public school system but specially the children that are in rural communities those special ed classrooms are full," explained speech language pathologist Susannah Silvia.

Silvia works at Beyond Therapy in Ridgeland where they try to bridge the gaps.

"We typically do not do group settings," said Silvia. "We find more progress in children that are one on one with the therapist, closed door, in a quiet structured at the table. And doing structured activity."

She sees the difference in the added time with patients. The voucher program would also allow the funds to be used for occupational and speech therapy.

The Bergeron's hope these resources will soon be available to other families.

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