Mistake Delays Funding for Florida Disabled Students


SEMINOLE COUNTY, Florida – Parents of children with disabilities say they still haven’t received the state funding they should have received at the start of the school year.

State education administrators say a data entry error in a few school districts across the state is the cause of the delay.

What would you like to know

  • Some parents of students with disabilities say they still haven’t received the expected public funding
  • Funding comes from what has long been known as the Gardiner Fellowship
  • The scholarship provides funding to parents who choose alternatives to public school as educational options and services for their child
  • Officials say isolated data entry error caused late payments

Kelly Steffee said she stays busy with her two young sons – both of whom face developmental disabilities – so she has little time to worry about when state funding to help taking care of her boys will happen.

Both boys receive what has long been called the Gardiner Scholarships, which typically give around $ 10,000 to a child with a disability.

But the money for Steffee’s son, Liam, still hasn’t come out for this school year, and she says it’s money she needs to pay for therapy to help her manage her condition. autism.

“They help teach letters, numbers, sounds, stack blocks – things that help him live a daily life the best he can,” she said.

Steffee says she’s heard from dozens of other parents still waiting for this year’s funding.

Officials at Step Up for Students, which helps distribute the scholarship money, said they recently joined the Florida Department of Education to notify concerned parents of an isolated data entry error that caused the payments to be delayed. .

The letter told parents that state administrators were working to process all overdue payments.

Steffee said she can count on some money from last year for now, but is worried about what might happen if she doesn’t get the funding soon.

“If it continues like this, I will have nothing left,” she said.

Steffee fears her son Liam will regress if a lack of funding means stopping his much-needed therapy.

“Regenerate into collapses, have seizures and feel this pain,” she said.

In the letter to parents, scholarship administrators said any delayed funding should be distributed to parents by mid-October.

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