Since 2008, Evanston CASE has provided Community, Advocacy, Support and Education for families affected by special needs. Our goal is to empower and support parents to secure appropriate educational services for their child, to reduce the isolation and stress that goes along with raising a child with a disability, and to promote inclusion of families and children in school and community activities and programs. We serve families with children aged 3 to 22 who attend Evanston public and private schools.
Over 1,300 students in the Evanston community receive special education services in our schools. In other words, over 1,300 families are facing the complex challenges involved in raising a child with special needs. These children and families are grappling with disabilities including autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome, dyslexia, mood disorders and cerebral palsy, to name a few. Their lives are drastically different from families who have typically developing children, which can be a painful and isolating experience.
Navigating the special education process is complex and overwhelming for many parents. Without the services the CASE provides, parents enter into the special education system unprepared to understand how to secure the appropriate services their children require, and that schools districts are legally required to provide, in order to ensure their child’s success in school. Parents are overwhelmed by the information they receive from school staff, they are outnumbered and vulnerable in meetings in which staff develop individual education plans (IEP’s) for their child, they do not know how to communicate their child’s needs and the resulting impact on their functioning at school, and they do not understand how to evaluate the progress or effectiveness of the IEP. In short, parents cannot be equal participants in this high stakes process. Parents want to rely on the expertise of school personnel to address their child’s needs, however sometimes the schools fail to provide their legally mandated (through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — IDEA) responsibilities to appropriately educate their child.
In addition, parenting a child with special needs can be an isolating and painful experience. CASE provides supportive spaces where parents and caregivers can share their experiences, and to help one another relieve the sense of isolation often felt by parents of children with special needs.
Navigating the school system, searching for inclusive programs in the community, living with family and financial stressors and finding a place of belonging — free of stigma — are central to the lives of these families and the issues Evanston CASE is uniquely situated to address these issues. The services that Evanston CASE provides are unique and urgently needed in our community. Through the execution of our mission, we have demonstrated a significant and positive impact on the experience of the families who have children with special needs.
CASE continually strives to build a welcoming and accepting community among families who have children with special needs and to expend awareness and inclusion in the Evanston schools and the city as a whole. We provide public presentations on topics related to special needs and we sponsor and participate in community forums and events.
Through the CASE Advocacy and Education Clinic, we provide a range of services to assist parents to secure appropriate special education services for their children. To address complex problems, CASE provides individualized consultation and professional advocacy representation for parents in special education meetings. In addition, CASE advocates for improvements in policies and programs in the school district special education system.
Through our Parent Connections support groups and online forum, CASE provides empathic spaces where families affected by special needs can support one another with resources, suggestions and understanding connection.
CASE teaches parents the skills they need to be effective self-advocates for their children at school. We provide parents with information to prepare them for the complexities of special education procedures and terminology, as well as their rights under the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
To learn more about our programs and services, visit our Services page and the Evanston CASE Education and Advocacy Clinic page.
We care deeply about children with disabilities and their families.
We are proud and privileged to do this important work. We welcome your participation and support. If you are interested in contributing or volunteering, please contact Katie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.