Jenny Clark, the founder of Love Your School, spoke with The Arizona Sun Times to explain the newly signed House Bill (HB) 2853, sponsored by State Representative Ben Toma (R-Peoria), which expands the eligibility for Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) and the ways it will benefit parents in the state.
“The expansion means that every Arizona family who has a child in kindergarten through 12th grade is now eligible to take a portion of their education dollars to the school or education environment that works for them,” Clark said. “The empowerment scholarship can be used for tutors, therapists, home education, and it can be used for private schools.”
The ESA has been available in Arizona since 2011 and, under the new legislation, can provide roughly $7,000 per year per child. Clark explained the process for how parents can get access to these funds.
“So, the application process is incredibly simple, and it’s all managed by the Arizona Department of Education [ADE],” she said.
Parents can find the application online, which Clark stated may require three documents, including proof of residency, the child’s birth certificate, and any documents involving the child’s need for extra help such as special needs. The department will then send a contract that can be approved within 30 days. Funds are placed in an online account handled by the ADE, which parents can draw from for tuition or other qualified educational needs.
Furthermore, Clark shared that an ESA is not necessarily a permanent agreement, and parents can switch back to a traditional education at any time.
“I think the most important thing they [parents] should know is that if their child is struggling or if a traditional kind of educational environment maybe isn’t working for their child, the ESA could be something short-term that they consider to help get their child ahead, maybe in a private school or back on track through home education. If they love it, they can stay on it,” Clark said. “For a lot of parents who just know their child may be behind, especially since COVID, switching over to an ESA for a period of time might be the right choice, and then they always have the flexibility to return to a traditional environment if that’s what’s best for their child.”
Clark added that parents can simply close the account once they are done using the ESA.
Moreover, as a mother of five herself, Clark has used the ESA to benefit her family, and shared that unique perspective.
“My first two children got on the ESA about four years ago because we discovered they had dyslexia. We were kind of shocked when we realized that our local public school did not have any dyslexia remediation programs available for our kids. So, we ended up getting on the empowerment scholarship, and right away, we were able to purchase a lot of dyslexia-specific curriculum, and we were able to hire some tutors to implement that curriculum,” Clark said. “My kids, especially my two oldest boys, have benefited tremendously from an ESA.”
While ESAs are not specific to Arizona, other states, including West Virginia and Florida, also use the program; Clark said Arizona’s is currently the most expansive, as all school-aged children qualify.
Thank you @DougDucey, Majority Leader Toma, and everyone who worked hard to expand educational freedom in Arizona! Universal ESAs are here and every family qualifies! Learn more about how to use this amAZing opportunity for your child here 👉 https://t.co/f2RmRJYBPO pic.twitter.com/qTgSQovwDL
— Love Your School (@iheartmyschool) August 16, 2022
Love Your School provides parent concierge services and support to families looking for something different for their child’s education and in need of help finding the right fit.
– – –