Financial Assistance and Parent Training Program

Financial Assistance and Parent Training Program

Individualized Learning

Program Description

(*Pilot to launch in spring 2011; Applications will be accepted at that time.)


The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri’s (CEAM) Financial Assistance and Parent Training Program is the first of its kind in the country. The program will provide grants directly to parents of children with special needs requiring Individualized Education Plans or ‘IEPs’, enabling them the choice of schools and organizations that deliver the best special needs education and therapeutic services in St. Louis City and St. Louis County. Schools and organizations will be invited to participate by referring families in need.  Grants will distribute funds in the form of needs-based scholarships and financial assistance for therapies and will provide certificates for payment for services from approved outside providers delivered outside of the school.

Funds may not be used for any other purpose than tuition and therapy assistance. These funds will follow the child(ren) through 8th grade provided the family re-qualifies financially during school registration each spring, continues to reside in St. Louis City or St. Louis County, maintains their portion of tuition payments and the student maintains good standing in the school.  Grant recipients will receive a 3-year commitment of support, with the ability to re-apply after the 3d year allowing support to follow the child through the 8th grade year.

Additionally, CEAM will offer individualized learning specialists to train parents to become advocates for their child’s education and therapies. Services will be provided at no cost to any Missouri parent who requests it, regardless of whether or not their child is a recipient of the financial aid program.  Trainings, hosted by our learning specialists, will be offered through two group parent orientations per year, quarterly 3-week training sessions that educate parents on IDEA, IEP process, the differences between public and private education and monthly one-hour support seminars for issues that develop with parents, families and schools.

Statement of Need:

After extensive research, face-to-face surveys and discussions with leading educators in the St. Louis metro area, we have found that the greatest need for financial assistance is in the special needs community, and the greatest opportunity for impact is with children in middle school (grades 6-8).

Missouri is home to over 133,000 IEP students.  CEAM receives calls on almost a weekly basis from parents who are dissatisfied with their child’s educational situation and are seeking alternatives.  These parents cannot afford an alternative option and remain trapped in the failing situation. Though any child with an IEP is eligible to apply for this scholarship program, it is known that a significant increase in diagnoses of autism alone threatens to overwhelm our school systems.   Here are some statistics related to just autism:

  • The National Autism Association estimates that the divorce rate is 80% for parents of autistic children.
  • Statistics show the lifetime cost of caring for a person with autism, including medical care, is between $3 million and $5 million.
  • Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by two thirds with early intervention
  • Bankruptcy rates are higher than the national average, 1 in every 1,100 households in January 2010
  • Currently, 1 in 91 children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum (formerly 1 in 150, up until 2009; 1 in 10,000 in the early 1990s)
  • 4:1 ratio of boys to girls (1 in 58 boys)
  • Fastest growing developmental disability
  • More than $100 billion in estimated annual costs nationally
  • In ten years, the annual costs are projected at $200 billion to $400 billion.
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than cancer, diabetes, Downs Syndrome and AIDS combined.