If you are a Florida resident, the single best resource for your child with autism is the McKay Scholarship Program.
Essentially, the McKay Scholarship provides state funding so you can choose the school (private or public) that best suits your child’s needs. Depending on the award amount (which is based on your child’s IEP), tuition can either be reduced or completely eliminated in a private school setting. In many instances, enough funding will be left over to apply towards other services such as speech and language therapy, shadows, and after-school programs. If your child is awarded a McKay Scholarship and you opt to keep them in public school, your funding can be used strictly towards autism services, if you so choose.
Like anything else, there are eligibility requirements for McKay Scholarship participants, most notably, a child must complete at least one full year in a public school setting. For this reason, it is better to apply for the McKay Program at an early age because switching schools while in middle school or high school can often be challenging and even traumatic for kids on the autism spectrum.
To qualify for a Florida McKay Scholarship, a child must:
- Have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and
- Have been enrolled and reported for funding in a Florida public school during the October and February Florida Education Finance Program surveys (Grades K-12); or
- Have been a pre-kindergarten student who was enrolled and reported for funding in a Florida public school during the preceding October and February Florida Education Finance Program surveys and was at least 4 years old; or
- Have attended the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind during the preceding October and February student membership surveys (Grades K-12).
In general, Florida is not a great state for autism support and services,
considering that it is the 4th largest populated state in the country. However,
the McKay Scholarship is a great resource that every parent should look into. It allows for flexibility to place your child in
that’s best for them and alleviates the financial burden of private school tuition costs
and/or autism-related services. Additionally, it’s important to note that the McKay is not exclusive to children with autism, but is a resource for all children in the state of Florida who have developmental or physical disabilities.
For more info, visit http://www.floridaschoolchoice.org/Information/McKay/