A community resource center serving parents of children in special-education programs will open at Robert Smalls Middle School early next year, thanks to a $50,000 federal grant.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grant will enable the Beaufort County School District to buy books and materials for a library and hire a part-time employee, said Brenda Hunt, the district's director of special education.
The center will help parents become better advocates for their special-needs children and connect them with services provided by state and county agencies, Hunt said.
"It's another resource," Hunt said. "Sometimes parents don't know about all of the available services that are out there in the community."
Sean Alford, the district's instructional services chief, said the center will provide books and videos about various disabilities to help parents better understand the challenges their children face. A staff member with experience in special education will be available to answer questions and discuss strategies for helping special-needs children.
"It's a tremendously frustrating experience for parents to be in," Alford said. "To want help, to need help and not know where to get it. ... It helps to have a single place where parents can go to find that help."
The center will be modeled after similar programs in the Horry County School District and others across the state, Hunt said. The Beaufort County district already operates parent resource centers focused on early childhood education and school readiness.
Hunt was notified the school district received the grant in late November and plans to open the center as soon as materials are ordered and a staff member is hired.
The district received two other federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants last month, both for staff development for literacy education and increasing the number of students who read at grade level.