“My work at the Council is inspired by my mom, who tirelessly taught and advocated for children with special education needs for 35 years.”
Caitlin Whalan Jones, JD
Director of Individual Advocacy
Caitlin Whalan Jones joined the staff of Council for Children’s Rights in 2016, becoming Director of Individual Advocacy in 2018. Originally from Ocean City, Maryland (where she was a competitive surfer), she graduated magna cum laude from Furman University in 2012 and earned her J.D. from William & Mary Law School in 2015. She has recently served as chair of the Juvenile Law Section of the Mecklenburg County Bar Association. In November 2019 Caitlin married Robert Jones. When Caitlin isn’t raising the voices of children in the foster care system, she and her husband both share their beautiful voices with the Charlotte Master Chorale, Charlotte Master Chorale Chamber Singers, and Christ Church Choir.
During this unprecedented public health crisis, the Individual Advocacy Team at Council for Children’s Rights continues to work diligently to provide ongoing support and advocacy for the children we serve. Our attorneys and volunteers are closely monitoring developments, assessing the effects, and responding to resulting challenges faced by our children.
The widespread school closures across the United States have caused unprecedented disruptions in the K-12 public education system, and like many other states throughout the country, North Carolina public schools are grappling with this reality. With schools currently closed to students through May 15, 2020, it is important to ensure that all students receive the necessary support to engage in remote learning. Our children in foster care are especially vulnerable to the impact and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. School closures, along with resulting court postponements, placement changes, elimination of in-person visitation, and telehealth service delivery are just a number of changes that pose new and difficult circumstances for children in foster care.
In the face of enormous uncertainty, we are deeply grateful to teachers and school districts for their continued commitment to our students. This commitment is particularly essential for our students with disabilities. The interruption of learning in a classroom is detrimental to all students, but the obstacles are particularly acute for our students with disabilities, who may have difficulties accessing remote learning opportunities. Without appropriate supports and services, these students are at risk of not making adequate progress towards their academic and functional goals and falling further behind their peers.
We believe that gathering and sharing knowledge, experiences, and resources are critical steps to begin addressing the emerging needs of our students with disabilities. We are actively engaging with partners throughout the education community to collaborate on issues currently impacting students with disabilities, as well as those we anticipate will emerge.
Please see the resources listed below for the most recent information from the U.S. Department of Education and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction related to serving students with disabilities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal Communication and Guidance
- 3/21/2020 – Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities
- 3/16/2020 – Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students
- 3/12/2020 – Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak
- 3/12/2020 – Protecting Student Privacy: FERPA and the Coronavirus
NC DPI Exceptional Children Division Communication and Guidance
- 4/3/2020 – Supplemental Optional Remote Learning Resources for Students with Disabilities
- 4/1/2020 – Virtual Related Service Guidance and Resources for Related Service Providers in NC Public Schools
- 3/27/2020 – EC Processes Points for Consideration During School Closure
- 3/26/2020 – Exceptional Children Information for Parents Newsletter
- 3/25/2020 – Clarification on March 21, 2020 USED Supplemental Fact Sheet
- 3/16/2020 – EC Division Update COVID-19
- 3/15/2020 – FAQ COVID-19 Update
In the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, although many aspects of life have dramatically changed, the critical and urgent needs of children in foster care have not. Council for Children’s Rights is well-positioned to serve the evolving needs of our children in this crisis. We greatly appreciate the compassionate and generous support from our volunteers, donors, and community. These partnerships make it possible for the Council for Children’s Rights to serve our most vulnerable on a daily basis, especially, during these unprecedented and constantly changing times.