Finally, some good news for families with students in special ed from the Texas governor’s mansion!

On Wed., Oct 21, the Gov. Abbott’s Office sent out a press release stating that he has authorized TEA (Texas Education Agency) to oversee grants of up to $1,500 per child to families of some kids in special education.

Unlike most TEA grants, which go to school districts, these Supplemental Special Education Services Grants will go directly to families.  Though TEA has minimal information on their website at the moment, here are some key points from the FAQ (frequently asked questions) sheet on the website.

Watch for the Devil in the Details

To qualify:

  • Families must have a student receiving special ed services through an IEP
    • Students on 504 plans are not eligible
  • Students must have any one of the following disabilities
    • an intellectual disability,
    • a developmental disability,
    • a visual impairment,
    • hearing loss,
    • a significant physical disability,
    • multiple disabilities, or are on the
    • autistic spectrum
  • Students must have been enrolled and receiving services through an IEP in a public school in spring 2020
    • The FAQ was not clear whether charter schools were included
    • Students from private schools are not included
  • Families will apply for an account on-line (no paper applications)
  • Families can receive up to $1,500 per child

So Will TEA Send Me Money Directly?

No.

Families will choose vendors & therapy providers from a TEA approved list.  As the therapy or service or materials are “purchased”, TEA will pay the vendor directly.  There is some flexibility to add vendors to their list, but the vendor would have to apply.

The funds can be used to pay for:

  • Private tutoring
  • Educationally related services and therapies from a licensed or accredited practitioner (OT, PT, BCBA, SLP, PT)
  • Textbooks, curriculum, or other instructional materials
  • Computer hardware, software, or other technological devices that are used for educational needs

Will Everyone Who Applies Receive the Grant?

Possibly.

Right now, they are setting the limit at 20,000 accounts.  TEA has estimated that there are 59,000 students who fit the category.  So, the first 20,000 applicants will get the grants.

If less than 20,000 families apply, they will extend the application window.

When Can I Apply

That’s a really good question.

The press release stated that applications would be at the end of 2020, and the TEA FAQ stated that the deadline was January 31, 2021.  So, my bet is on them opening applications by November 15—but don’t quote me on that one.

The FAQ listed no details for how to apply.  The TEA representative from the grant department that I spoke with was unaware of the grant.  She recommended that people sign up for updates to know when applications are being accepted.

You do this by clicking here, to get to the main TEA page.  Once there, click on the “sign up for updates” link.

TEA home page

The arrow shows where the “sign up for updates” link is

Clicking on the update link will take you to a page where you input either your email or phone number (if you’d prefer to receive a text).

Then you will go to a page where you have to confirm that you agree to the data privacy standards.

On the third page, you can select which area you’d like to receive updates about.  Scroll down to the Finance and Grants section, and check grants.

This should put you on the list.  To be on the safe side, you can also email the special ed department at sped@tea.texas.gov and put SSES grant in the subject line.

Like to have more information like this?  Sign up for more my newsletter here.