Anecdotal evidence points to a growing number of families choosing to homeschool their child(ren) with Special Needs. This can often mean that the child(ren) are no longer eligible for services they would have been eligible for in a public school setting. In an effort to offset the disparity in access to therapies, in 2014 the Florida Legislature created a statewide scholarship program to help families who chose to homeschool their child(ren) with Special Needs. This program is called the Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA) and is administered through Step Up for Students. There are eligibility requirements and limited funds, which are disbursed on a first come, first serve basis. The program is in its first year of administration, and I have discovered that they are still working out the bugs.
As a homeschool mom, and as a provider of therapy for traditionally and homeschooled children, I was thrilled to learn of this program! The mother of a homeschool child that I work with enrolled in the program and became my guineau pig, so to speak, to see if they would actually pay for private therapies. The test was to see if the parent could be reimbursed for the therapy after paying for it. (Versus the traditional insurance model where the therapist provides the service, then bills the payor and waits for payment.)
The mother has submitted invoices and 3 weeks later she has not yet received reimbursement. When I talked to a representative at Step Up for Students today, she assured me that this mother can be reimbursed for services she’s paid for. This is with the assumption that the services are provided by a licensed provider, and they are the services that the provider is licensed to provide. (In other words, parents can not be reimbursed for a speech therapist who is providing gait training.) However, the representative informed me that reimbursement is much faster if the parents request pre-authorization through their online account. So, pre-authorization is not necessary for reimbursement, but it might speed up the process.
While it could be frustrating waiting for them to iron out the bugs in the system, this is truly a beneficial program for homeschool families. It is another avenue to allow parents to make truly individualized education plans for their child with Special Needs, and to access often financially burdensome services.
For more information and to receive updates, go to Special Needs Kids at Home and register.
ADDENDUM: This mother was reimbursed for all of the therapy/groups her son participated in with me. It took approximately 5 weeks for her to receive the money. Yay!