Students with Intensive Support Needs/Regional Programs

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Funding for Students with Intensive Support Needs


In 2015, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) was directed to conduct a study of entities formerly known as Special Education Regional Programs and to review the funding model used to provide funds to school divisions that provided certain services to certain students through these Regional Programs.

Historically, the VDOE provided funds to school divisions to offset the high cost of providing instructional and other services for students identified in low incidence disability categories.  These funds were provided to school divisions that were participants in partnerships previously known as Special Education Regional Program. 

As a result of the study, in 2017 the VDOE began to transition to a new funding model, where all school divisions would be eligible to receive funds for services provided to students that meet the criteria for students identified as Students with Intensive Support Needs.

As part of the transition to a new funding model, school divisions must meet three primary requirements for eligibility:

  1. Submit an application, call the Students with Intensive Support Needs Application (SISNA).
  2. 2. Submit a detailed accounting for all expected, estimated annual costs for each student that meets the criteria as a Student with Intensive Support Need.
  3. Develop a Memorandum of Understanding between the school divisions of the required partnership.

Availability of Funds

Funds are authorized through a line item in the Governor’s Budget specifically allotted to what are still called Special Education Regional Programs. These funds are 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. The amount reimbursed is determined after the school division submits the actual costs expended for an individual student. Once school divisions have identified students to be included in the SISNA and have identified the expected annual costs to be expended for those students, also to be included in the SISNA, the school division analyzes whether the State Share that will be reimbursed for these costs will provide a greater fiscal benefit to the school division than the typical average daily membership (ADM) or standards of quality (SOQ) funds. The VDOE staff provide individual school divisions guidance with this analysis when they meet with school divisions.

Purpose of the SISNA

  • Provide an opportunity for school divisions to offset the high cost of providing instructional and direct services to students with intensive support needs.
  • Provide an equitable model for all school divisions to apply for these funds.
  • Determine the “actual” cost of instruction and services for identified students.
  • Provide a system for LEAs to be reimbursed based on actual financial costs for providing actual services and increased accountability.

Student Eligibility Criteria

Students who require intensive support services must meet the mandatory requirements:

  • All students included in the application have a current IEP.
  • All students have been identified on their IEP as having one of the following as their primary disabilities: autism, emotional disability, deaf-blindness, hearing impairment, multiple disabilities, or traumatic brain injury.
  • All students receive special education services for 85 percent or more of their instructional school day as indicated by their IEP.

Each student must have three or more of the following:

  • Current IEP demonstrates significant cognitive disabilities which impact their ability to access the general curriculum.
  • Present level of performance reflects the need for additional support services; such as intervention services, to access the curriculum.
  • Currently making minimal academic progress toward their IEP goals and/or objectives as indicated by their IEP progress report.
  • Has a current Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and/or Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) that has been implemented for at least one month (30 calendar days).
  • Documented behaviors identified in the student’s IEP, FBA, and BIP indicates the student has a significant safety risk (s) to self and/or others.
  • Requires behavioral support staff to access the general education curriculum with non-disabled peers.
  • Has a significant medical condition(s) and/or sensory impairment.
  • Requires a device(s) and/or service(s) to support positive social/emotional adaptive relationships.
  • Requires a device(s) and/or services to increase their overall capacity to work, accomplish specific tasks, and/or participate in activities that otherwise might have been difficult and/or impossible.

The SISNA Process

  • School divisions submit the SISNA and a detailed information on the services expected to be provided to these specific students to include detailed information on the expected costs for these specific services. 
  • Once the SISNA has been submitted and reviewed by the VDOE, the VDOE staff meet with every school division that submits a SISNA to discuss the application, possible implications, and answer questions.
  • Once the SISNA is approved, school divisions can be approved for reimbursement of the costs reported.

SISNA Components 

The SISNA has ten components that specify the individual requirements that must be met for a school division to be eligible to receive these funds.  In the SISNA, each component contains information and instructions for completing that section.  A brief description of each component follows.

  1.  Cover Page: a school division provides identifying information to confirm the legal entity submitting an application for funds, including the name of the partnership in which they are a member.
  2. Instructions Overview: brief information on the required components of the application is provided.
  3. Contact Information and Assurances: school divisions provide the name and contact information of the person that has completed the application. The school division will also address certain assurance related to the use of any funds reimbursed to offset the costs for services for the identified students with intensive support needs.
  4. Student Eligibility: school divisions address the mandatory eligibility criteria for each student identified in the application.
  5. Student Selection Process: school divisions provide a detailed explanation on how the school division selected students included in the SISNA. The school division also includes the total number of identified students, with totals for each primary disability category.
  6.  Services Cost Analysis: school divisions provide specific information on the expected annual costs for services and staff needed for each student identified in the SISNA. School divisions meet the requirements for this component by completing a Services Cost Analysis spreadsheet.
  7.  Summary of Costs: school divisions provide sum totals for all of the individual students' costs itemized in the Services Cost Analysis spreadsheet, and total these costs by general category.
  8.  Collaboration – Partnership: school divisions must partner with one or more school divisions, in order to meet one of the eligibility criteria to receive funds. School divisions provide a brief description of any partnership activities they engage in to support students with intensive support needs.
  9. Previous Year’s Funds: school divisions provide a detailed explanation on how they utilized the funds from the immediate previous year consistent with SISNA requirements.
  10. Submission Checklist: the application includes a checklist of all of the required components of the SISNA.  School divisions can utilize the checklist to ensure all requirements have been addressed and all required information has been prepared for submission.

Additional Information on Funding for Students with Intensive Support Needs 

Additional information is available to assist school divisions with completing the SISNA. Include an introductory paragraph about the FAQ Guidance Document for students with Intensive Support Needs.

  1.  The Students with Intensive Support Needs Application: Instruction for Submission training video provides detailed information about all aspects of completing the SISNA to include the Services Cost Analysis.
  2. The FAQ Guidance Document for Students with Intensive Support Needs provide additional guidance concerning service delivery and partnerships as it relates to Students with Intensive Support Needs.
  3. The SISNA can be found on the Single Sign-On Web Systems (SSWS).