Dacia Heaton has always dreamed of having her two foster children attend Christian School District in O’Fallon where she teaches, but until this summer had no idea how she would pay for it.
“I was really struggling as a single mom to figure out how I could afford both my children to attend the private school,” she said. “There was no second guessing when the opportunity came up to apply for the MOScholars fund. I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to send my children to a private school, so to work here and then also have the opportunity to make sure my children can come here was huge.”
Thanks to the MOScholars scholarship, Heaton was able to enroll her oldest child in Kindergarten with the Christian School District this summer and still afford to bring her youngest child to participate in the school’s preschool program.
Until she heard about the MOScholars program Heaton had been questioning whether or not she could continue to work at the school herself, or if she needed to find a higher-paying job so she could afford to send her children to a school she believes in.
“All summer I was stressing about whether or not I needed to sacrifice being in a Christian environment and teaching at this school,” she said. “So when we found out we got the award I celebrated and just felt this huge burden lifted. I no longer had to face making the possible decision of whether or not both my children could come here.”
Without the MOScholars scholarship or a different job, Heaton knew she could not afford to pay for both children to attend Christian School District but knew it would break her youngest daughter’s heart if she was not able to join her mom at school this year as Heaton and her oldest daughter had promised for years.
“She would have to be in a different daycare, which in and of itself would be a struggle,” said Heaton. “My youngest was so excited to finally be at mommy’s school. So I was not looking forward to the discussion I was gonna have to have essentially breaking her heart and saying that you can’t be at mommy’s school this year. Then figuring out okay, well that’s this year, but what does next year looks like, you know, like would there have ever been a time without this tuition award that I could afford to have both my children in Christian School District?”
Thankfully, that is a path Heaton did not have to take, thanks to the MOScholars program.
“My oldest daughter loves, has always loved, coming to school with mommy and now my youngest daughter is able to do it,” Heaton said. “It’s normal now. They love it. They love coming to my classroom. They think that they rule the school. It is like a family because it is a small private school everybody knows everybody we pray for everybody and the girls just they love it.”
Heaton added that the MOScholars program was especially wonderful because it helped foster parents have more of a say in their children’s education.
“Private schools can be afforded now,” she said. “It’s great that the state covers many costs, but if foster parents choose to send their children to private schools that is completely out of pocket.”
Heaton pointed out that small private schools are particularly suited to help many foster children.
“Public schools are great, but there’s a small class setting, small student-to-teacher ratio, more individualized attention, our teachers have actually had some trauma training which is beneficial to kids from foster care,” she explained. “Our teachers have an idea on how to help children walk through some of the triggers when they experience them.”
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