- Lodestone Academy is private ABA school located in central Florida specializing in Autism Spectrum disorder, Conduct Disorders, and other related disorders.
Finding the right place for your child’s education can be a difficult and painstaking process. You spend the time and energy to research, visit, and find the perfect fit for your child. Excited to finally have a place that your child will be able to meet their potential, you may suddenly realize that you finally found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but upon further inspection the responsibility falls on you to fill it! Good, individualized educational services are resource intensive, and the necessary expertise is hard to find. Unfortunately, there may be a large tuition associated with getting your child’s needs met. At first glance it may even seem impossible to pay for, but you do have options. In today’s post, we’re going to talk about what is available in Florida, to allow you to have your child’s education completely covered, letting you use your hard-earned monies for all the other unexpected things that come with the territory of having a special needs child!
The first step would be to research different funding sources for private education in your county and how to get enrolled in the programs. Here are some places to start
1. McKay Scholarship
McKay Scholarship gives the parents the power to choose which school (public or private) they want their child with special needs to attend. The freedom to choose your child’s education is great, but there are somethings you mustdo first:
- Make sure your child is eligible to participate in the McKay Scholarship Program
- If your child meets the requirements then you are ready to Apply Here
- Once you have completed those two steps you then have to wait…happily, waiting isn’t so bad because you can check the status of your application here
The most IMPORTANT thing to remember with McKay are the deadlines and requirements for the provision of funding to the school of choice. This can determine whether or not a school decides to enroll your student. If it is past the enrollment date that private schools must follow, then you may be waiting two more months until your child can attend that academy.
For more information, including deadline information go to the following link: http://www.fldoe.org/schools/school-choice/k-12-scholarship-programs/mckay/mckay-parent-info.stml
2. Step Up for Students
Step up for Students is a scholarship based program that allows parents to apply for either Income –Based Scholarships or Special Needs Scholarships. The best thing about this scholarship is that it can be used in conjunction with the McKay Scholarship and other funding sources.
Income Based Scholarships
Apply before the deadline (Unfortunately the deadline has passed for this year, but you can join the interest list for next year) Planning ahead will be critical for this scholarship.
You can receive up to $5,677 in additional scholarship money depending on your yearly income.
Special Needs Scholarship
This scholarship is called The Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PSLA) and helps families that have children with special needs including autism spectrum disorder, including Asperger’s, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, spina bifida, Williams syndrome, Intellectual Disability (Severe cognitive impairment)
In order to apply you must create an account here. (Click the home tab at the top)
You can receive up to $10,000 in additional scholarship money with PSLA
3. Medicaid with an ABA Authorization
Probably the slowest to get enrolled (if you haven’t already), but it can be very helpful if you are able to get approved and the school of choice offers extra-curricular services. Many families can get approved for up to 40 hours per week of ABA therapy. Most school weeks are only 30 hours, so imagine what you could do with 40 hours (this can also include speech and occupational therapy.)
Here is a helpful link to a PDF PowerPoint explaining the process for getting started with Medicaid.
Putting the Pieces Together
Now that you’ve selected your funding sources and depending what you get approved for its time to find that perfect school that accepts each type of funding. Some parents find the school first, and then seek out funding. Oops. They learn the hard way that not every school is authorized to accept McKay, Step-up, and/or provide Medicaid services.
Happy hunting while barely spending (out of pocket)!
*FTC – Florida Tax Credit (Step up for Students)