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Spotlight Series: Education Rights Counsel

On October 4, Voices for Children in Nebraska will honor those who have made an exceptional impact in ensuring Nebraska is the best place to be a kid. Over the next several weeks, we will highlight the 2019 Spotlight Gala honorees. We continue the series today with our Youth Group Award winner, Education Rights Counsel.

Education Rights Counsel was created from a desire to make education better for students and families.

Co-founders, Lauren Micek Vargas & Elizabeth Eynon-Kokrda faced daily dilemmas in their professional work. Hundreds of children were going without necessary supports to access needed educational services, and no non-profit in Nebraska was focused specifically on serving under-resourced public PK-12 school kids. Yet, in Nebraska, nearly 47% of students live in low-income families and more than 50% of children with special needs live in poverty.

After reaching out to community advocates, educators, lawyers, judges, and others and it quickly became clear that there is an extensive knowledge gap in Nebraska about public PK-12 educational rights and responsibilities across all communities, neighborhoods and stakeholders.

Access to public education is a legal right, but the laws governing education are nuanced and complex. Access difficulties are exacerbated when families don’t have the resources to speak confidently about what they think is best for their children. Parents and children who don’t accurately and adequately understand the educational system are far more likely to go without services, be removed from school, and be denied existing legal rights. The resulting harm can last a lifetime.

Education Rights Counsel’s goal is to generate systemic change by equalizing access to representation for under-resourced families, and by partnering with individuals, organizations, and stakeholders to build understanding through education and engagement. As a non-profit with very specific education expertise, Education Rights Counsel serves a unique role for a significant community of under-served Nebraska children.

To join us at the Spotlight Gala on Friday, October 4, 2019, please RSVP by Friday, September 20: https://voicesforchildren.com/2019-spotlight-gala/

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