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Get the knowledge you need to take the next steps for your child’s education with S.E.L.F.

We level the playing field for families in need with children in the special education system.

Founded by parents, Special Education Legal Fund (S.E.L.F.) is an organization that provides knowledge, resources, and support to under-resourced families so they may successfully advocate for their children.

Making a Difference

Supporting families in the special education system in Connecticut & New York.

OUr IMPACT

$ 599528
In Grants
$ 4.5 M
Educational Improvements
over 985
Happy Families

OUr Families

55 %
Single Parents
40 +%
Below Poverty Line
25 %
English - 2nd Language

OUr Students

25 +%
Autistic
16 %
ADD | ADHD
15 %
Dyslexic

OUr IMPACT

$ 599528
In Grants
$ 4.5 M
Educational Improvements
over 985
Happy Families

OUr Families

55 %
Single Parents
40 +%
Below Poverty Line
26 %
English - 2nd Language

OUr Students

25 +%
Autistic
16 %
ADD | ADHD
15 %
Dyslexic

How can S.E.L.F help you?

Board of Directors

Christine Lai (Executive Director & CoFounder)
Ulrika Drinkall (CoFounder & Board Chair)
Michael Delgass (Vice Chair)
Lara Damashek (Vice Chair)
Craig Elkind (Treasurer)
Lisa Lorant (Secretary)
Stephanie Bilenker (Program Director)
William DeHaven
Ellen Fullerton
Laurie Heiss
Adriana Ospina
Victoria Robinson
Robert Russo
Beth Sugerman

Board of Directors

Christine Lai (Executive Director & CoFounder)
Ulrika Drinkall (CoFounder & Board Chair)
Michael Delgass (Vice Chair)
Lara Damashek (Vice Chair)
Craig Elkind (Treasurer)
Lisa Lorant (Secretary)
Stephanie Bilenker (Program Director)
William DeHaven
Ellen Fullerton
Laurie Heiss
Adriana Ospina
Victoria Robinson
Robert Russo
Beth Sugerman

Frequently Asked Questions

Special Education Legal Fund Inc is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to level the playing field for families in need with children in the special education system by providing resources, knowledge, and support during the advocacy process.

Special Education Legal Fund provides two types of grants to families. The Legal Assistance Program enables a qualifying family to retain a special education attorney through a one-time grant of $5000. The Advocacy Support Program enables a qualifying family to obtain special education advocacy support through a one-time grant of $1000. 

Please visit HOW TO APPLY for more information about eligibility.

A Legal Assistance Program grant covers up to $5000 of a family’s special education legal expenses provided through a qualified special education attorney that meets S.E.L.F.’s professional guidelines. An Advocacy Support Program grant covers up to $1000 of special education advocacy expenses provided through a qualified special education advocate on S.E.L.F.’s list.

Grants are reviewed monthly by S.E.L.F. during the school year and applicants are notified of S.E.L.F.’s decision by the end of the month in which they apply.

No, Special Education Legal Fund does not make recommendations about attorneys to applicant families or families who have been approved for a grant. Families are responsible for securing their own legal representation, subject to S.E.L.F.’s professional guidelines

The following is a list of attorneys who have previously accepted grants from S.E.L.F. on behalf of clients: 

Barger & Gaines (Paul Barger)

The Law Offices of Terry Bedard

The Law Offices of Lawrence Berliner

The Law Offices of Meredith Braxton

Feinstein Education Law Group (Andrew Feinstein, Jillian Griswold)

The Law Offices of John Flanders

Forte Law Group

The Law Offices of Christina Ghio

Michael Gilberg, Esq

The Law Offices of Dana Jonson

The Law Offices of Jennifer Laviano and Melissa Gagne

The Law Offices of Robin Keller

Piper Paul Law

The Law Offices of Penelope Petzold

Special Education MAP (Melanie Dunn)

The Law Offices of Courtney Spencer

Attorneys that receive grants from S.E.L.F. must: 

  1. Have practiced law with an emphasis on special education or disability rights for seven years or more 
  2.  Have special education or disability rights law represent a majority of their legal practice 
  3. Be affiliated with the American Bar Association (ABA), the Connecticut Bar Association, or the New York Bar Association 
  4. Be licensed to practice law in the state of Connecticut or New York.

After approval, S.E.L.F. and the applicant may schedule an introductory call to discuss any concerns or questions. The applicant has 30 days from the date of approval to secure the services of an appropriate special education attorney. If recipient fails to retain an appropriate attorney during the designated time frame, grant approval for the S.E.L.F. client will be withdrawn. 

Each month Special Education Legal Fund receives many more applications than grants that we can support. If your initial application is not approved, you may be eligible, upon invitation, to reapply in the following month’s grant cycle.

Both the Legal Assistance Program Grant and the Advocacy Support Program are available on a one-time basis per child per family. If you have previously received a grant on behalf of your child, you will not be permitted to apply again for a grant for that child. 

S.E.L.F. Success Stories

Kendrick struggled in school for years until he was finally diagnosed with dyslexia at age 15.

Janavia’s mom advocated tirelessly for her daughter, firm in her belief that Janavia had something other than the ADHD indicated by her school. 

What do S.E.L.F. Parents Say