Step Up For Students


Did you know Step Up For Students helps administer TWO scholarships for Florida children?

The Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSA) helps families personalize educational plans for their children with certain special needs. Students age 3 through 12th grade may be eligible if they are diagnosed with one of the following: Autism Spectrum Disorder, including Asperger’s, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Prader-Willi syndrome, Spina Bifida, Williams Syndrome, or an Intellectual Disability (severe cognitive impairment). Students who are in kindergarten, deemed “high risk” due to developmental delays and, not older than 5 on Sept. 1, may be eligible for the year they apply. The PLSA allows parents to direct scholarship funds toward a combination of programs and approved providers including private schools, therapists, specialists, curriculum, and technology – even a college savings account.

Another option is the Income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC), a program that provides financial assistance to low-income families with K-12 students to help pay for private school tuition and fees, or for transportation costs to attend a public school in another county. If a family’s household income qualifies for the free or reduced-price school lunch program (185% of the federal poverty guidelines0, or if the family receives SNAP (food stamps), TANF, or FDPIR, the student may be eligible.
Children who are homeless, or in foster or out-of-home care, also may be eligible for either of these TWO scholarships.

Step Up For Students in a nonprofit approved by the state to help administer both programs. To learn more, visit

Kids Crusader Corner


Kids Crusaders Logo

 Someone I Love  by: Lori Hickman “Someone I love relies on me in ways you will never understand.
Someone I love endures pain and challenges that break my heart and renew my spirit at the same time.
Someone I love is unable to advocate for themselves for things that most of us take for granted. Someone I love will never have the opportunities that every child should have. Someone I love will need unconditional love and support after I am gone, and that frightens me to the core. Someone I love encounters pity, stereotyping responses, and prejudice at every turn because they look, act/or learn differently than others. Someone I love has needs that require me to allow “outsiders” to have power and input in areas that should be mine alone to meet. Someone I love will continue to look to me for everything in life long after other children are able to assume a place as part of the world.
Someone I love has needs that require more time and energy than I can sometimes give. Someone I love has needs that mean I am not able to meet the needs of my own.
Someone I love has needs that have become the driving force behind major decisions my family makes.
Someone I love has changed me in ways I will never be able to describe.
Someone I love has taught me about love and about the really important things in life…
And still others don’t understand what it is like to be me, they aren’t living in my skin.” 






For over 43 years, Broward Children’s Center, Inc. has been a haven for children and young adults with disabilities in Pompano Beach, Florida. Founded in 1971, the program serves children with varied disabilities from all walks of life, which include autism, disabilities from birth, accidents, shaken baby syndrome, lightning strikes and other traumatic events which may have occurred in their lives. Programs and services include three developmental preschools, a Children’s Comprehensive Care Center, two Group Homes, a Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care Center, Home Health, a Center for Innovative Technology, Nutrition Program and Respite Services for families.

(click here to read more) 


Members of Broward Children's Center visit a museum and observe a dinosaur skeleton. Kids and caretakers participate in a luau at Broward Children's Center.

Institutionalization of Medically Complex Children


A.R. v. Dudek – the efforts to give children with disabilities the care they need.

Florida has been home for approximately three thousand children with severe disabilities who require constant nursing care or supervision on a 24-hour per day basis to stay alive. These disabilities could be the result of a trauma, such as a shaken baby syndrome, near drowning, or an auto accident, or could be a condition with which the child was born. Many of these children have tracheotomies, gastrostomy tubes, or ventilators, and as a result of their conditions, most of these children have degrees of developmental or intellectual disabilities.

At least since 2010, it has been the policy of the State of Florida to rely on the parents and caregivers, including siblings, of these children to provide such life-sustaining nursing care to these children, despite the requirement of Medicaid to pay for as much nursing care as is medically necessary. These parents or caregivers are not medical professionals, yet they are entrusted with life sustaining care of their children. These parents are pushed into the position of placing their child in a nursing facility to obtain the medically-necessary services they could not receive in their own homes. As a result, the State of Florida pushed many of these children into institutionalized settings, such as residential geriatric nursing homes or 12-hour pediatric prescribed extended care centers. Due to their efforts, Florida saved over $ 25 million dollars by denying claims for nursing services for our most fragile children in 2011 to 2012 alone. For those children in foster care, nursing homes is the only option because of the lack of medical foster homes.

Disability Independence Group, Inc., the North Florida Center for Equal Justice, Inc. and the FSU College of Law Public Interest Law Center are representing these children to ensure that these families receive services in the most integrated setting with appropriate and necessary supports and services to allow these kids with disabilities to live at home. In the landmark United States Supreme Court case of

Olmstead v. L.C. ex rel. Zimring, the Court recognized that the unjustified isolation of individuals with disabilities is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In so concluding, the Olmstead Court found that “institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life.” Children should be with a loving family and are worthy and capable of participating in community life. Unlike one’s own family, medical foster home, or even a group home, such restrictive, medically-based nursing facilities lack required integration with other persons, children, and the community.

This action seeks class-wide injunctive relief and requires the states and their agents to (1) provide all children with disabilities the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated settings; (2) make reasonable modifications to the Defendants’ community service system to accommodate the needs of qualified children the opportunity to live in more integrated settings; (3) implement a professionally-adequate screening and assessment process of children in nursing facilities that will accurately identify children with developmental disabilities, including whether they can be appropriately served in the most integrated settings; and (4) for those children who are medically fragile or medically complex, to ensure that they receive adequate nursing care based upon their medical needs and not based on their parents or caretakers schedule, in the most integrated setting.

Every month, our website will update this matter and provide a description of a few of these children and the families that love their kids and care for them. Each of the families have fought for the care that they have and continuously fight for the lives of their kids.

Willowbrook Pic

Balloons and Tunes Party!


5 8 DIG staff with kidsOn Friday, December 13, 2013, Disability Independence Group held its first annual ‘Balloons and Tunes’ Holiday Party at Broward Children’s Center. To make the holidays special for the children who live at Broward Children’s Center, DIG staff met with the children and gave each a shiny Mylar balloon, with balloons ranging from SpongeBob Squarepants to the Little Mermaid, a CD or DVD, depending on each child’s preference, and stickers. It was a festive day full of smiles and laughter, with DIG staff and the children having wheelchair races down the halls, playing games with the balloons, and adorning the children in stickers.

DIG staff was determined to help make the holidays great for the children at BCC, but it was not only the children who were rewarded, the Balloons and Tunes Holiday Party with the children at BCC left a lasting impression on the DIG staff. DIG plans to make the Balloons and Tunes Party a holiday tradition and is already thinking of ways to make the party bigger and better for the children at Broward Children’s Center next year.