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After-School Program for Special-Needs Students to Open in Trenton, N.J.

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Children with special needs in Trenton, N.J., public schools will have their own after-school program starting next month, according to an article in The Trentonian News.

The Trenton school board and the Trenton Special Parent Advocacy Group announced last week that they would be collaborating on the program, which is scheduled to open when students return from winter break.

Nicole Whitfield, the president and founder of the advocacy group, who has been leading the effort to create the program, said it would have room for 25 students from ages 3 to 13.

"Speaking from personal experience, four years ago, I had a really hard time finding a program for my son, who has autism," Whitfield told the Trentonian. "I think for [the] Special Parent Advocacy Group to be able to collaborate with the school district to offer such a great program and provide such a great opportunity for our parents is a good thing."

The announcement brought relief to Pia Odom-Barksdale, a single parent who has a son with autism.  "I've been looking for something like this for my son for a very long time, so I can work full time," she said at the December 15 school board meeting, when the agreement was made public, according to the newspaper and the online news site nj.com.

The program will be partly funded through state and federal grants and parents will also be able to use child-care subsidies if they have them.  

In 2014, Whitfield led a successful effort to have the district provide transportation for special education students who attended an after-school program outside the Trenton school district. Although she has moved out of the district, Whitfield said she wants to start another after-school program in Trenton for older students 

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