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Virginia Funding Guide

Virginia Special Education Funding Guide

Building a Comprehensive Behavioral and Mental Health Program to Support Virginia Students

As need continues to grow across the country and state, it’s important that schools and communities use the full funding and program levers available to them to create a holistic approach to the education of students with special needs and disabilities. Additionally, utilizing many of these programs is better not only for students with special needs, but for all students.


  • In 2023, Mental Health America ranked Virginia 48th in the nation for youth mental health 
  • 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder (CDC)
  • 80% of children with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders do not receive care from a specialized mental health care provider (NIH)

Use this Virginia-specific guide for a snapshot of the available programs and funding to serve students with special education, behavioral, and mental health needs.

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Child Services Act (CSA) Transitional Funds

The CSA state pool fund reimbursements may be used for transition services for students returning from a private special education program to a public-school setting. Transition services may include: 
•    1:1 aids 
•    Speech therapy 
•    Occupational therapy 
•    Behavioral health services 
•    Counseling 
•    Applied behavioral analysis 
•    Specially designed instruction delivered directly to a student in a public school

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Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program

The Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program provides scholarships to eligible students to attend participating private schools and non-public pre-kindergarten programs. Scholarship opportunities are accessible to students from families whose income falls below 300% of the federal poverty guidelines. However, for students with disabilities under an Individualized Education Program (IEP), their family income must not surpass 400% of the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for assistance.

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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

ESSA governs public education across the country. ESSA does not specifically require services for students with special needs or disabilities. However, there are several provisions that support students with special needs.  

Learn more on provisions here.  

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IDEA The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

IDEA governs and provides funding for the education of students with a disability, ensuring that all students with a disability are provided a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Below is a snapshot of the programs within IDEA that can support special education services in schools. Each LEA must submit an annual plan to the VADOE for providing special education services. 

Part B: Assistance for All Children with Disabilities
Part B includes provisions related to formula grants that assist states in providing FAPE in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities ages three through 21. VDOE's annual application to receive funding for federal fiscal year 2024 (FFY) under IDEA must be submitted by May 22, 2024 for Virginia to be eligible to receive funds. 2024 funds will be made available to eligible states on July 1, 2024.

Part C: Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities 
Part C encompasses provisions concerning formula grants aimed at aiding states in delivering early intervention services to infants and toddlers from birth through age two, along with support for their families.

Part D: National Activities to Improve Education of Children with Disabilities
Part D includes provisions related to funding to support state personnel development, technical assistance and dissemination, technology, and parent-training and information centers. 

Extended School Year (ESY): Each school division must ensure that extended school year services are available as necessary to provide FAPE. Learn more here

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The Medicaid school-based services program administered by the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) enables school divisions to receive reimbursement for certain expenses linked to delivering services to Medicaid-enrolled children. Local Education Authorities (LEAs) have the option to request partial reimbursement from DMAS for eligible health services offered by Medicaid-qualified providers to students enrolled in Medicaid. Additionally, DMAS offers partial reimbursement for health-related administrative tasks.

Medicaid Reimbursable Direct Services include but are not limited to: Mental/Behavioral Health; Nursing Services; Applied Behavioral Therapy; Specialized Transportation (Transportation Services must be in an IEP); Expanded Behavioral/Mental Health Providers to include VDOE Licensed Psychologist and School Counselor; Some crises care and screening. 

For a full list of reimbursable services, click the button below. 

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Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA)

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) ensures that mental health and substance abuse services receive fair treatment in insurance coverage, promoting equality in healthcare access. Under the law, ABA is an included service if the condition ABA is being used to address is covered. Services funded through insurance should be provided in the child’s natural environment, which includes school-based settings. Families must work directly with their insurance provider to determine whether a child is eligible for services under their health insurance. 

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School-Based Mental Health Services Grants

Developed in partnership with the Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services (DBHDS), The School-Based Mental Health Services grant program provides grants to school divisions to contract with public or private community partners to provide mental health services to students, as well as training to school staff, parents, and school-based mental health advocates. 

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Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)

Perkins V provides students in a program of study with academic knowledge, technical and employability skills in a program area. Perkins V designates nine identified Special Populations, which includes individuals with disabilities. Notable highlights for students with special needs includes: 

Once enrolled in a CTE course, there are supports for students including accommodations and modifications for students with disabilities. 

Virginia also has developed Education for Employment (EFE) CTE courses for students with special needs to prepare them for inclusion in regular CTE programs.

Programs and courses designed specifically for students with special needs are available within the following program areas: agricultural education, business and information technology, career connections, and technology education. In addition, family and consumer science, health and medical sciences, marketing, and trade and industrial education also provide for students with disabilities through their IEPs. 

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Students with Intensive Support Needs/Regional Programs

Formerly designated funds for school division part of the Special Education Regional programs are now available to all school divisions that meet the requirements of students with intensive support needs. Funds are authorized through the Governor’s Budget specifically allotted to what are still called Special Education Regional Programs, now identified by the VDOE as Funds for Students with Intensive Support Needs. The Students with Intensive Support (SISNA) is submitted annually to the VDOE and information on the SISNA is available to all school divisions. Funds for students identified as meeting the criteria as a Student with Intensive Support Needs are provided through a reimbursement model.

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