My husband and I have three kids. I am in nursing school, so we have basically been on one income the last few years. We are a Christian family and wanted to send our kids to private school, but it is expensive, and we could not afford it.
Our youngest son was in pre-school at Faith Evangelical Lutheran in Antioch, and they told us about Empower Illinois and the Tax Credit Scholarship Program. We applied when the program started in 2018 and again in 2019, and we did not receive any scholarships. My kids were going to the local public school, and it just wasn’t working out for our family.
When the COVID-19 pandemic happened, things started getting worse. Obviously remote learning is not as effective as being in the classroom, and by August I realized that it was not working for my kids. I pulled my boys out of the public school and started homeschooling them. There are a lot of resources, but it was a lot to juggle, especially with my own schoolwork.
After a few months of homeschooling, I was having a really hard time. My husband and I discussed if we should try living on a tighter budget or taking money out of our retirement fund to afford private school for the kids. I remember that was a Tuesday night, and then Wednesday morning we received a call from Faith that they had a 75% scholarship for Isaiah for the 2020-2021 school year. If that is not an answer to a prayer, I do not know what is!
My son Isaiah had an IEP for his for speech was working with a speech interventionist for his reading delay, and now he is doing really well. He is moving up closer to reading at his grade level and frequently meets with their specialist. It is so great they have the staff and resources he needs. It has really been a huge blessing all around. My other two kids currently attend West Lake Christian Academy with financial aid. My daughter was really struggling with remote learning, so it is worth every penny to have her back in class at a school she loves.
The Tax Credit Scholarship Program is so important because it allows families to choose their best-fit school. For example, having smaller class sizes and a faith-based education was important for us. Not every environment or every classroom setting works for every kid. You should not only be able to attend private school if you are wealthy, and this program has made it possible for so many families like mine.