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What We Do

Critical Needs

Providing students in need with everyday essentials.

Some students with disabilities have financial needs that affect their ability to meaningfully engage in the learning process.

Unmet critical needs often negatively influence the experience that students have with the school system and the community. The Special Education Foundation seeks to provide funding to meet critical needs, including:

  • Incontinence supplies – child and adult sizes when Medicaid or private insurance allotment has been used due to illness
  • Prescriptions – when uninsured, underinsured, awaiting insurance
  • Nutritious foods – when crisis strikes and nutritious foods aren’t immediately available in food deserts
  • Basic needs – shoes, socks, undergarments, deodorant, bath soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, coats, gloves, hats
  • Eyeglass repair – when insurance won’t replace or repair due to revolving two-year cycle
  • Dental services – many students may require sedation during routine cleaning and advanced dental treatment, especially after the age of 18 years of age
  • Other – support that results in increased independence and achievement for students

Applications may be submitted at any time to Adrienne Eaglin at or to the Special School District Learning Center, 900 Hornet Drive, Hazelwood, MO 63042. The application must be completed by a social worker, teacher or administrator. All information must be complete, supporting information must be attached, and an administrator’s signature is required. Applications will be considered based on the following criteria:

  • Emergency need apparent and documented – social worker/teacher/administrator has talked with family about the need; family admits that they aren’t able to meet the need
  • Financial need detailed  – free/reduced lunch status; family meets the federal guidelines for poverty; information in SIS
  • Community resources have been exhausted; no options exist to assist the student
  • High potential for student medical emergency/loss of independence/academic failure/dropout due to the need not being met

How many students in St. Louis County are in need?

  • There are currently 57,090 students in St. Louis County enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program.
  • As of 2015, 30,716 children under the age of 18 years old live in families with incomes below the poverty threshold.
  • As of 2016, 5,094 children are homeless.
  • In 2014, 38,610 children live with food insecurity.
  • In 2015, 43,153 children live in high child poverty zones. These are areas in which 30 percent or more of the residents under 18 are at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • In 2014, over 10,000 children in St. Louis County are uninsured.
  • In 2014, 1679 children had preventable hospitalizations.

What behaviors are associated with unmet critical needs?

  • Decrease attendance/truancy
  • Low academic performance
  • Poor self esteem
  • Refusal to attend class when in school
  • Excessive hunger
  • Lethargic/apathetic/unmotivated/depressed behavior
  • Decreased ability to focus in class settings
  • Unpredictable/difficult to manage student behavior
  • Increase in student illnesses
  • Refusal to access medical services in emergencies because they can’t access transportation to follow the child
  • Decrease in family engagement
  • Increased likelihood of students disengaging in school

To contribute to our effort to meet the critical needs of students with disabilities, please contact Adrienne Eaglin, Family and Community Outreach Manager of Special School District, 314-989-8311,

From the Newsroom

Let's rally together to ensure that every student, especially those in special education, has the essentials they need to thrive in school.

Your donation to SEF will directly contribute to the purchase of hygiene items such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, and other essentials.

Final Days of the Critical Needs Coat Drive