Four-year-old now thrives in school because of Legal Aid

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Lillian Medina, a native of Honduras, came to Cleveland in February of 2006. Ms. Medina was first referred to Legal Aid by a social worker at MetroHealth. Legal Aid attorney Megan Sprecher – the project leader of Legal Aid’s medical-legal partnership with MetroHealth – handled Ms. Medina’s initial legal needs and stayed in touch with the family.

Recently, Ms. Medina was troubled by the behavior of her son Juwan. Though only three years old, Juwan was exceptionally quiet and hardly spoke at all. Ms. Medina tried to get three-year-old Juwan enrolled in preschool, but he showed signs of struggle. “He rarely spoke in Spanish or in English and seemed to have trouble following directions,” says Ms. Sprecher. Ms. Medina sought Ms. Sprecher’s help in obtaining preschool special education services, so that he could receive the proper attention and instruction that he needed. “I need him to speak and to understand,” says Ms. Medina.

Legal Aid’s education law practice works to ensure all children have access to education. Studies demonstrate that length of time in school decreases the likelihood of poverty for young people born into low-income families.

Ms. Sprecher arranged for Juwan to be evaluated for special education, revealing a large discrepancy between his verbal and nonverbal communication abilities. This qualified him for special education. With Ms. Sprecher’s help, Juwan received an Individualized Education Program (IEP) focused on improving his verbal communication and was enrolled in a different school – the plan also included transportation for Juwan from home to school. Just a few weeks away from Juwan’s fourth birthday, the effects of his IEP are evident. “He has good teachers,” says Ms. Medina. She goes on, “he has changed a lot. He is starting to talk more and use more words. He knows how to say thank you.” In addition, Ms. Sprecher helped Juwan and Ms. Medina receive SSI benefits due to Juwan’s health condition.

Ms. Medina remains extremely grateful to Ms. Sprecher and to Legal Aid: “[Legal Aid] has changed my life a lot; I’m very thankful for Legal Aid.” Ms. Medina, motioning to Ms. Sprecher, says in perfect English: “She is a very good person.”

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