TFC Applauds Governor Abbott for Expanding Special Needs Education Program

The Texas Federation for Children (TFC) today applauded Governor Abbott for expanding the Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) program which provides money directly to families and connects eligible students with severe cognitive disabilities additional support for the services they need. The $20 million grant will be instrumental in helping the 2,829 medically dependent students in the State of Texas to achieve their full potential.

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

“Texas’ SSES program has been instrumental in bridging the educational gap for special needs students. The additional funding announced today will enhance this program and change the lives of thousands of Texas children. TFC applauds Governor Abbott for expanding educational freedom for families with special needs children.”

Details:

  • In 2021, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), with the support of Governor Abbott, created the SSES program which was later expanded by the Legislature through the passage of SB 1716.
  • This program provides $1,500 to parents of students with disabilities to help pay for supplemental services needed due to Covid-19 learning loss. Only public-school students quality for SSES funds.
  • Parents are enthusiastic about the program, and legislative expansion of the program received bipartisan support in both chambers.
  • Parents are able to select services from the pre-approved list of providers, which has been established and monitored by TEA.

According to TEA, there are 2,829 medically dependent students in Texas. This is a very small percentage of the special education population, but one that needs extra attention due to Covid-19 learning loss.

Since the start of the SSES program in January 2021, Governor Abbott has dedicated $110 million to the program, including:

  • $30 million – Supplemental Special Educations Services Program (January 2021)
  • $60 million – SB 1716 Supplemental Special Educations Services Expansion and codification legislation (signed by the Governor in June 2021)
    • SB 1716 was authored by Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), sponsored by Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Galveston) in the House, and shepherd through the legislative process by House Education Committee Chairman Harold Dutton (D – Greater Fifth Ward, Houston).
  • $20 million – Expansion of Supplemental Special Educations Services Program (December 2021)