Learning Aid Ohio will help families of special needs students during pandemic

Posted at 11:16 PM, Oct 29, 2020

BATAVIA, Ohio — Beth Lammers can handle busy. She’s the mother of nine children, many of whom have disabilities that require daily care. She’s been busy for years.

But she never could have prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted her family’s carefully constructed routines and forced them to pivot with no warning.

Some of her children are now learning from home; others are still attending in-person classes because they need support that schools can’t provide remotely. She and her husband pay out of pocket for a tutor to visit once a week.

MORE ON THE LAMMERS FAMILY: Hoping to keep siblings together, Batavia family adopts seven children in seven years

And all of their doctor appointments are still mandatory. It adds up financially as fast as it does emotionally.

“I mean, it’s a struggle,” Lammers said. “It’s a struggle, I’m sure, for a lot of families. I know for ourselves that we almost are picking health over schooling or health over education.”

She, and thousands of parents whose children have disabilities, will soon be able to ask the state of Ohio for financial help dealing with the pandemic.

Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday announced the Learning Aid Ohio program, which will allow families like Lammers’ to receive some educational help for free.

Learning Aid Ohio will work to connect students who have disabilities with educational services that help take the pressure off of their parents during the pandemic.

Families that join the program must have children who are learning remotely full-time and working with individual education plans, commonly known as IEP. The family must also be experiencing financial hardship, per the program’s official website.

Each family accepted to the program will receive a renewable grant for $1,500 to pay educational service providers during the pandemic.

Lammers said she was glad to hear it, both for her children’s sake and the sake of others.

“I think it means so much,” she said. “I think there’s more than myself, many out there that are sending their most vulnerable children to school right now to receive all of these services because it’s hard to do at home, so I think the grant could help.”