Photo of Evelyn Ayay

Evelyn Ayay

  • Hosted by Equip for Equality
  • Sponsored by ADM
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school University of Chicago Law School
  • Issue area Education/Special Education, Medical-Legal Partnership
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Evelyn (she/her/hers) will empower families and children with developmental disabilities to access critical early childhood special education services through education, representation, and a medical-legal partnership.

Access to early childhood special education services can dramatically change the developmental trajectory of young children with disabilities. Yet, programming in Illinois is not meeting the needs of children with developmental disabilities from racially and economically marginalized communities where a lack of identification and disparities in services and programming are exceedingly common.

Families and children with developmental disabilities benefit from education and representation to have the knowledge and tools they need to access critical special education services starting in preschool.

Evelyn’s background in child development inspires her deep commitment to empowering families and increasing access to early childhood special education services.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Evelyn will provide education, advocacy, and direct legal representation. Her project will focus on the representation of children at risk of being excluded from special education or receiving inadequate services due to systemic barriers, racial biases, and a lack of resources within their communities. She will also build a medical-legal partnership and use tele-mentoring to educate and collaborate with medical providers who play a critical role in the education and advocacy process for families.

By ensuring access to services early on, we can not only improve outcomes for children in preschool, but also long-term outcomes and build a more equitable education system in Illinois.

Evelyn Ayay /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Paul Easton

Host: Children's Law Center of Massachusetts

Sponsor: Biogen, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Amanda Walsh

Host: Legal Council for Health Justice

Sponsor: Baker McKenzie, Walgreen Company

Natalia Botella

Host: Legal Services of Southern Piedmont

Sponsor: Boston Scientific Corporation, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Margaret Wakelin

Host: Equip for Equality

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig Fellowship Foundation