ASK THE EXPERTS

How Can I Afford a Tutor for My Child in Special Ed?

By Debra Collins, Family therapist

Question:

My son is in special education. I would like for him to have tutoring services, but I cannot afford them. What do you recommend I do, because tutoring would really help him?

Answer:

For the tutoring to be geared to the special education needs of your child, I suggest that you begin with your son's special education teacher or teachers.

They should be able to identify what type of tutoring best meets his needs. Tutoring may need to be specialized depending on his challenges. It is often difficult to find free tutoring, but you may be able to find tutors who work on a sliding scale.

The teachers may be a good resource for you with that as well. You can also try your school district to see if there are after-school programs for which your son is eligible. These programs are not considered day care, but more comprehensive programs that offer tutoring as one of their curriculum options.

Some schools contract with outside agencies that provide these programs free to families who are receiving government assistance or have other financial constraints. The Beacon Center is one such nationwide program that may be in your area. Facilities become qualified as a Beacon Center and are listed independently. You can do an online search for "beacon center" and your city to see if there is a center near you.

You might also try your school counselor or principal for referrals to outside educational centers that may have tutoring at reduced fees. A local university may have college students who tutor children with special needs as part of their curriculum.

I have also known parents of special education students to form parent support groups to share resources and advocate for their children in their schools. Organizing with others may be a good option for both you and your son. This helps everyone feel less isolated and it helps navigate the complex resources with more support.

Debra Collins is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has worked in both primary and middle schools as a school counselor. She gives workshops to teachers and students and offers parenting classes in the San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more, visit her website.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.