Statement Supporting the Report of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission

For Immediate Release: Commission’s Proposal Aims to Support Homeschooled Children

Canton, Ma., 3/6/15—On March 6, 2015, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission presented its final report to Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy. The report contains recommendations that parents of homeschooled children with significant emotional, social and/or behavioral difficulties create individual education plans in cooperation with public school special education personnel, and that they file annual progress reports. “These recommendations are an important step forward for homeschooled children,” stated Rachel Coleman, Executive Director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education. “I applaud the Committee for crafting a proposal that aims to foster cooperation between homeschooling parents and local special needs providers and works to ensure that the needs of troubled children are not ignored.”

Like children in other groups, many homeschooled children struggle with mental health issues. According to 2011 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 15% of homeschool parents report homeschooling because of their child’s physical or mental health problems. Also in 2011, the Cardus Education Survey found that some homeschool graduates struggled with more feelings of helplessness and lack of direction than their peers. A 2014 survey conducted by Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO) found that approximately 25% of the 3,700 homeschool graduates surveyed had been diagnosed with a mental illness by a mental health professional. Homeschooled children do not always have access to appropriate mental health care—nearly one in five of the homeschool graduates surveyed by HARO reported that they suffered from mental health issues while being homeschooled, but that nothing was done to help them.

“Homeschooled children have rights, needs, and interests that do not always align perfectly with those of their parents,” Coleman added. “One of those interests is being able to access mental health care even in cases where parents may be negligent about getting them help. We need to reimagine children’s mental health care in a way that ensures that all children—including homeschooled children—receive the mental health care they need.” The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s proposal is a step in the right direction.

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.

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