Two Fairfield moms join forces to help children with disabilities


Ann McCarthy

Fairfield residents and education advocates Ann McCarthy and Laurie Markus recently opened Advocacy for Kids, a Fairfield-based company dedicated to securing educational rights for Connecticut children with disabilities.

Education advocates help parents work with the public school system to develop programs and services that address the learning, social, behavioral, and medical issues faced by their children. This is accomplished, in part, through a comprehensive understanding of the procedures that govern the ways which children receive supports in school.

To date, Markus and McCarthy have supported more than 300 families throughout Connecticut. McCarthy has been working as an advocate since 2007, and most recently served as the managing director and supervisor of the advocacy department at The Southfield Center for Development in Darien.

In 2010, Markus, a native of Fairfield, joined The Southfield Center to form the second half of its advocacy team. Since then, they have worked together closely to develop their unique and effective style.

“The fact that teachers call us for support when their own children are having challenges with school, is something that we are proud of and speaks to the success of our approach”, McCarthy said. “It’s not just about having the technical expertise to navigate the school system. That’s only one part of what we do. We also teach parents to collaborate with school teams, and create mutual respect between parents and educators.”

Markus agrees.


Laurie Markus

“We aim to bring school teams and parents together — not create further divide,” she said. “We pride ourselves on the ability to create a team atmosphere, and work with our clients to do some ‘repair work’ when the parent-school relationship has been strained.”

In addition to their direct experience working with families and schools, McCarthy and Markus have received hundreds of hours of training and professional development related to education advocacy. Their “pre-advocacy” work as a marketing manager/business administrator/MBA and as a litigation attorney afford decades’ worth of expertise in managing conflict, facilitating negotiations, running effective meetings, building teams and fostering positive relationships.

“All of this — in combination with our knowledge of what works in education advocacy — makes us very good at something that we are both passionate about and honored to do,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy and Markus will offer a free parent lecture, “Executive Functions: Their Impact on Learning and Solutions for Remediation,” in the Memorial Room at the Fairfield Public Library on Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. To reserve a seat, visit or call 203-763-4099, ext. 101.

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