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As my son, Caleb, was being transitioned from an auditory/oral preschool for the deaf to a mainstream preschool, I was panicked about finding an appropriate affordable setting in which he could learn. His Oral deaf school (Clarke PA School for the deaf) was incredibly expensive (though worth every penny) and not funded by the state, as our county offered a subpar program that would not have met his needs. Clarke PA was extremely generous in their financial aid, to the point that I was only paying approximately 10% of his tuition. I am a single Mother of a special needs child. I left my ex-husband when he became abusive, then he left the state and took a massive paycut to avoid paying the appropriate child support amount.

Then I found out about CCIS, where I could receive state funding to pay for an appropriate preschool for Caleb's needs. I did my research and applied immediately. I was thrilled to find that our income level qualified, and that he was placed on a waiting list for preschool funding. Over a year and a half later, we are STILL waiting. Apparently, many people have been waiting much longer! The irony of this situation is that if funding is ever approved for these children who so desperately need and deserve early learning, they will be too old to receive it! Caleb never did enroll in the preschool I found for him. He is in another school. I cannot afford the tuition, but I have no other option to give my child all the opportunities that he deserves.

Instead of receiving state funding, I have taken on a second job, and taken in a boarder into my home to offset his tuition and all the expenses associated with it. His father is thousands of dollars behind on what was supposed to be his half of the payments. Yet, here I am, climbing another mountain on my own to make sure that my child can accomplish anything he sets his mind to later on in life.

Next year, my son will be in kindergarten and be eligible for free public schooling. I am at another crossroads. To lift the burden of tution from me would be priceless. However, I have spoken with many special needs parents in my school district and they have all told me that I either need to move to another district to get better services, or keep my child in private schools. Their services have been substandard, and some children have fallen so far behind; other's IEP's haven't been updated in years, etc. When will our government learn that our children are our greatest asset for the future, and that they need to be invested in today?! How sad that we continue this vicious cycle instead of building those up who need it the most!

—TriciaPennsylvania
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