Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency announced a new program that’ll benefit students with cognitive disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Supplementary Special Education Services program, special education students may be eligible to receive $1,500 to use toward therapy, tutoring and digital resources.

“It’s a program that would give a credit to parents to be able to purchase services for their students to replace services that may have been lost due to the school closures,” said Matt Montano, TEA Deputy Commissioner for Special Populations. “All families that have children with those disabilities are qualified, but we would be prioritizing low income families.”

Jessica Saldana is a mother of two and called this program a blessing in disguise because learning for her special needs son, Leo, during the pandemic has been difficult.

After COVID-19 hit last school year, Saldana struggled to give her autistic son the resources he needed to succeed.

“Whenever I try to teach him here at home, it doesn’t click. Whenever he learns at school, with another authority figure, he understands it,” Saldana said.
On top of the struggles that came with the Covid-19 pandemic, money is tight in the Saldana household. They’re currently relying on the Hays Hope 2 Go food distribution program. In addition, the grant for Leo’s therapy ran out and the school can’t provide the resources Leo needs. Affording therapy or tutoring for her son right now is not an option.

Saldana is relieved to hear the Texas Education Agency and Governor Greg Abbott are looking out for her son. She sees this financial assistance program as a blessing and already has an idea of how to use the funds for her son.

“If we were able to be approved for it and we have the account set for him to receive the services, occupational therapy and speech therapy would be the top two things that we would do with the allowance,” Saldana said. “Our kids are our futureno money should ever hinder a child from receiving a proper education, whether it is a public school or any type of therapy they need.”

The application process will be available by the end of this year and families will have a four-month window to apply. Families who are approved will be able to use the funds at TEA approved vendors. That list will be released when the application process opens.

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