ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- St. Louis County is allocating $160,000 in federal CARES Act funding to help provide free tutoring to students with special needs.

The program, a partnership between Miriam Learning Center and the county's library system, will offer tutoring sessions for the next 14 weeks.

"I'm very concerned that a lot of kids are going to be a whole year behind in education and school districts or schools are going to pass them on to the next grade and they're not going to have that foundation," said Beth Rose, Director of the Miriam Learning Center.

Deborah Hernandez began homeschooling her children a few weeks into the school year after realizing virtual learning was not the best fit for her 9-year-old son, Owen.

"To be able to just focus on one screen, and sit in one spot for such a long period of time, even with breaks to go out and run around, it's just too hard," said Hernandez.

Homeschooling her children has been a big undertaking and Hernandez said her son needs additional help with reading and writing. 

"I'm a mom all day long and it's hard all of a sudden then to be teacher and have him listen to me as a teacher," she said.

Last fall, when the first round of tutoring took place, Hernandez said she jumped at the opportunity. Not only did it help her son, but she said it was a good change of pace for his emotional and mental health, too.

"It's really nice to be able to have someone else be able to teach him for some time," she said. "For him to be exposed to other people and other instruction is a good thing."

Students that are eligible for the program can receive one free tutoring session per week, for up to 14 weeks.

"Kids already are falling behind, just by the nature of them having learning disabilities." said Rose. "When you add in that they're not getting that direct instruction or Zooming into classes on top of it, you know that gap is just getting bigger."

Rose said as of Tuesday, the program has room for another 50 to 60 students, thanks to the additional funding from the county. In all, between both the fall and spring programs, St. Louis County has allocated $260,000 in federal funding to the program. 

For more information on registration and eligibility requirements, visit here.

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