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May 2, 2016

Adopted Kids Win Equal Treatment


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Adopting a child can be extremely rewarding, but it is also a lot of work, especially if the child has special needs. Many states, like Georgia, provide financial and health care assistance for parents who adopt a child with special needs, to help offset some of the additional costs.

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However, two HSLDA member families in Georgia found out that these benefits were not equally available for parents who choose to homeschool.

The Pittman family’s benefits were terminated when their adopted son turned 19, even though he was still in high school. Had they enrolled him in a public or private school, they could have received the adoption assistance benefits until he turned 21 as long he was still dependent upon parental support. But because they chose to homeschool, no funding or medical coverage was available after his 19th birthday.

The loss of the subsidy, along with added insurance expenses, cost the Pittmans about $800 a month. That’s nearly $20,000 over the two full years until their son turns 21.

Both families asked HSLDA for assistance. After discovering Georgia’s discriminatory treatment of homeschool families, HSLDA President J. Michael Smith wrote a letter to the governor, the Division of Family and Children Services commissioner, and the chairmen of both state oversight committees for the Department of Human Services.

“Under the current policy,” Smith wrote, “a parent who chooses to exercise his right to homeschool is denied a full two years of benefits that he would otherwise receive if his child were in public or private school.”

Smith requested that the state amend its policy so that homeschooling parents would be allowed to qualify for benefits on the same basis as those parents who choose to enroll their children in public or private school.

In response, DCFS recently updated its adoption assistance policy. The new policy no longer discriminates against homeschool families. They are eligible for adoption assistance upon documenting compliance with Georgia’s statutory requirements for homeschooling.

HSLDA applauds Georgia’s decision to support families who homeschool adopted children with special needs.

Homeschooling provides unique benefits for struggling learners. If you’re a member and have questions about homeschooling a child with special needs, contact one of our experienced special needs educational consultants. There is no fee for a consultation. It’s just another great benefit of HSLDA membership!