Governor Abbott, TEA establish targeted education funds for families of students with cognitive disabilities


Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Photo by Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Governor Gregg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) today announced the Supplementary Special Education Services (SSES) program to connect eligible students with severe cognitive disabilities with additional support for the critical services they need.

The student-centered SSES program, says the Governor’s office, is intended to help connect Texas families to high-quality, personalized services through a one-time funding allocation that aims to help offset learning disruptions related to COVID-19. Qualifying families would gain access to a targeted spending account to purchase services costing up to $1,500 per student.

“Through this funding source,” states the Governor’s office, “Texas families can purchase supplemental supports such as tutoring, therapy, and digital resources through vendors approved and vetted by the TEA. The purchased services are intended to be supplementary and do not remove responsibility from Texas public school systems to provide the educational services outlined in each eligible sutden’ts Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) plan.

Families of students enrolled in public school during this school year, that were enrolled during the initial COVID-19 closures in Spring and have been noted as having a low incidence disability will qualify, according to the announcement. Nearly 59,000 students statewide may be eligible to benefit from this program. Participation priority will reportedly be given to families receiving income assistance or have documented financial need.

“This program is a win for Texas families and children with special education needs, many of whom have endured education disruptions due to COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “Education is vital to the future of every Texas child, and every student is entitled to a high quality education. The SSES program further advances Texas’ mission to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. This innovative initiative builds on the services that students are already receiving at school, and provides additional resources and support at a pivotal moment in the lives of Texas families and their children.”

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