Expanding access to individualized learning opportunities for children with disabilities.
- Children and students with disabilities deserve to benefit from both high expectations and appropriate supports, so that they are challenged to reach their full potential.
- Too often though, the individualized services and learning opportunities they need can be limited by existing programs and practices that prioritize the needs of the “system” over the needs of the child.
- The pursuit of individualized learning environments and programs often puts financial pressure on families, which may be acutely felt by the families of children with disabilities.
- The Education Freedom Scholarships (EFS) proposal creates a $5 billion annual federal tax credit for voluntary donations to state-based scholarship programs.
- This is a vital opportunity states can seize to empower children with disabilities and their families to access individualized learning opportunities, while relieving some of the financial pressure many families experience.
How EFS Can Expand Special Education Options
- States can design their programs to complement and expand existing special education programs and services, and scholarships can be focused on expanding access for children with disabilities to individualized supports, services, instruction, interventions, and therapies.
- The scholarships could cover allowable education expenses including, but not limited to:
- Educational therapies and services from a licensed or accredited practitioner or provider, including behavior therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, recreational therapy, social group therapy, speech therapy, vision therapy, and more;
- Tuition and fees at a private school of a family’s choice;
- Homeschool education expenses, including specialized curriculum and educational and therapeutic materials;
- Programs and services that support transition to postsecondary education or employment;
- Programs and services that support the early childhood needs of children with disabilities, including Developmental Delay;
- Assistive technology, including adaptive and rehabilitative devices such as prosthetics, communication boards, power lifts, refreshable Braille displays, assistive listening devices, and more;
- Cost of a paraprofessional or educational aide; and
- Educational and psychological evaluations to identify a child’s unique strengths, interests, and needs.