Delaware Public Media

Parents of visually impaired kids voice frustration over recommended FY 2020 budget

Feb 22, 2019

Some parents of visually impaired students say their kids aren’t getting the resources they need to succeed in the classroom.


Gov. John Carney recommends the Division for the Visually Impaired get nearly $5 million in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. It includes $365,000 in new funding for the state’s 285 students.

That breaks down to $100,000 for educational material, $200,000 for classroom technology and $65,000 to teach life skills to students.

But Sonya Lawrence said that’s nowhere near enough. She said one piece of educational material for her son, Xavier, costs around $43,000.

Sonya and Xavier Lawrence
Credit Sarah Mueller

Fifth grader Xavier Lawrence has been asking the Joint Finance Committee for additional money since he was in second grade. Sonya said next school year she’ll send him to middle school in Philadelphia because Delaware doesn’t provide enough assistance for kids like him.

“Where is DHSS (Department of Health and Social Services) in this," she said. "Where’s the Dept. of Education? Where is the governor" It’s not as if we’re talking and we haven’t provided a listing of action. We seem to be one of the only communities of Exceptional Citizens that doesn’t get attention.”

Xavier said at his middle school in Philadelphia he’ll have a teacher for the visually impaired in the classroom all the time - something he doesn’t have now.

“I’ll have someone to assist me with problems, with problems, with technology, or questions or something like that," he said. "And it won’t be just like a weekly tutor thing, it’ll be daily, which will help me a lot.”

While Xavier said he loves speaking to JFC each year, his mom said she’s frustrated. Sonya said she’s frequently contacted the governor’s office looking for additional funding.

Jill Fredel, spokeswoman for DHSS said the division for the Visually Impaired continues to seek access to education resources from multiple sources.

"Through strategic and collaborative engagement with our community partners and stakeholders, our division is confident that the needle will continue to move in a positive direction in meeting the needs of the students we serve,” she said.

The governor's office didn't respond to a request for comment.