Texas Federation for Children Calls on State to Expand Program to Serve More Special Needs Students

Today, the Texas Federation for Children (TFC), a project of the American Federation for Children, called on the state to expand access to a newly created program that serves special needs students.

The state’s Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) program provides families with special needs children $1,500 grants to purchase services to help get additional support for children dramatically and painfully impacted by school closures. This program was started by Governor Abbott in coordination with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) because of school closures due to COVID-19.

Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) has filed Senate Bill 1716 which will expand the program to ensure these children have the educational choices they need to succeed. It will also expand the eligibility requirements to make this program available to more Texas families.

As of today, 11,918 students have submitted applications to utilize these grants for special needs services they have missed over the past year, and from those applications, TEA has awarded grants to about 7,000 students. Thousands of Texas families are grateful for the much-needed assistance, and thousands more are struggling and waiting for the help they desperately need from an expanded SSES program.

Statement from Mandy Drogin, State Director of Texas Federation for Children:

“The global pandemic further exposed the serious challenges confronting special needs families and the imperative of providing the fullest range of educational options for their children. The Governor and Texas Education Agency took a major step by establishing the SSES program, and the legislature now has an opportunity to make the SSES program permanent by passing Senator Taylor’s SB 1716. This bill is a major step in giving these Texas families access to needed supports and services through parent-directed accounts. TFC applauds the Governor for starting this program and Senator Taylor for seeking to expand it.”