When Edgar Allen founded Easter Seals in the early 1900s, the organization supported families whose children had special needs or disabilities – most notably children who had been stricken with polio. Now, Easter Seals North Georgia carries on the tradition of serving children with special needs and disabilities and their families through many programs, including early education, early intervention and support services. We have blogged about our early education and early intervention programs, but not about our support services….until now!

The Easter Seals Georgia Coalition began The Champions for Children program in 2008 to meet the needs of families who have medically fragile and special needs children.

While low-income families have access to government resources and wealthy families have their own financial means, middle – and even upper middle-income – families struggle to pay for all that is required to meet their children’s needs. Hence, not only is the child with the disability affected, but so is the family. Private insurance often does not cover all the services and supplies necessary to care for a child with exceptional needs, or the maximum benefits are depleted when the child is still very young. A national study reported that 40% of families of children with special health care needs experience a financial burden due to their child’s condition.

A child who has received a Level of Care denial from the Medicaid Waiver Program – Katie Beckett – is eligible for services through the Champions for Children Program. After the family completes an Individualized Family Care Plan, which prioritizes the needs of the child, the Program Coordinator works directly with them to identify providers or vendors for the needed services or supplies. The parents purchase those services, supplies and equipment noted on the IFSP and is reimbursed for those items up to $2,000 per child annually.

Ages of Children in Program: Birth to 18 years
Number Enrolled in Program: 300 across Georgia
Most Commonly Requested Services: Therapies, medications, medical supplies and medical services
Most Prevalent Diagnoses: Cerebral palsy, pervasive developmental disability and autism spectrum disorders

  • Have applied for Katie Beckett and received a level of care denial
  • Children up to the age of 18
  • Live at home
  • Have a physical, cognitive, developmental or medical disability

This description of service and facts are great and all, but let’s meet a child and her family who is supported by The Champions for Children program.


Neely – Generations of Easter Seals Support and Success

Stephanie and Lane Lawler struggled and sacrificed to provide the best level of support and care for their daughter, Neely, who has cerebral palsy.

They have successfully done so through job loss, financial devastation, medical scares and academic struggles. Through it all, though, they have remained steadfast in their commitment to their kids, family, church and community. Easter Seals North Georgia’s Champions for Children helps the Lawler’s with medical and therapy expenses. This program allows her family to breathe a little easier knowing that things will not be such a struggle financially. They can focus on Neely’s successes not her necessities.

“Champions for Children has done more for us than we could have ever imagined. Neely has cerebral palsy, but it does not define her. She is just a regular kid who loves to play, spend time with her grandfather and live life to its fullest. We would have never been able to afford the services we received without ESNG’s financial assistance,” said Stephanie

Neely’s grandfather was also a recipient of Easter Seals services when, sixty years ago, he was stricken with polio. He spent many years away from his family in hospitals and rehabilitation. Easter Seals supported his family then and now.

Check out other success stories here.
More information about Champions for Children can be found here.


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