Today, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) announced the release of additional federal funds to assist school districts in addressing the challenges faced by vulnerable students population due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds are provided under the American Rescue Plan Act to support the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grant programs targeted at students with disabilities, and to support specific and urgent needs of students who are experiencing homelessness.
“South Carolina’s vulnerable student populations continue to be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “These funds will be used by school districts to address the specific needs of students with disabilities and those experiencing homelessness so that they have every opportunity to be successful now and into the future.”
South Carolina’s allocation of more than $43 million may be used for all expenses allowed under the IDEA, with a focus on alleviating the challenges created by the pandemic related to equity in education for students with disabilities. The uses might include:
- Providing compensatory services based on Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team decisions;
- Providing support and direct services for students with disabilities;
- Providing positive behavior and intervention supports and mental health services;
- Improving the use of technology in the classroom and/or in a remote setting to enhance learning;
- Implementing transition services to support postsecondary activities; and
- Assisting districts in meeting personnel shortages including hiring additional personnel to provide special education and related services and reducing caseloads in key areas.
The funding is distributed through two formula grants. IDEA Section 611 for children ages three through 21 and Section 619 for children ages three through five. Each district’s allocation can be found here.
McKinney-Vento Homeless Funding
South Carolina was allocated $13.8 million in homeless children and youth funding with $10.4 million going directly to school districts and the remaining amount reserved by the SCDE’s McKinney-Vento Program to implement activities that will support districts in identifying and supporting children and youth who are experiencing homelessness.
During the 2019-2020 school year, approximately 12,000 South Carolina students were identified as experincing homelessness. The population includes children under the age of five and students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
Uses of this funding may include:
- Providing wraparound services, which may be provided in collaboration with and/or through contracts with community-based organizations, including:
- Academic supports
- Trauma-informed care
- Mental health services
- Purchasing needed supplies, such as:
- School supplies
- Personal care items
- Providing transportation to enable students to attend classes and participate fully in school activities;
- Providing access to reliable, high-speed internet for students.
Each district’s allocation can be found here.
NOTE: South Carolina public schools have received a total of $3.3 billion in federal COVID-19 education relief funding dating back to March 2020 to support the reopening of schools and addressing student, staff, and community pandemic related needs. A description of those funds and their allowable uses can be found by viewing this fact sheet.