High-Cost Special Education Program - National Program Guidelines 2016-2017 (revised February 2017)
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The High-Cost Special Education Program (HCSEP) provides additional investments to recipients who provide services for students who ordinarily live on reserve and whose special education needs cannot be met within the current resources that are made available for the general student population.
Broadly speaking, special education needs students fall within a continuum of mild to moderate, moderate to severe and severe to profound.
Special education needs categorized as mild to moderate needs are expected to be addressed within the funding and terms and conditions of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Elementary/Secondary Education Program.
Only high-cost special education needs (ranging from moderate to profound) are eligible for funding under the High-Cost Special Education Program.
There are two types of approaches that are typically used in the school systems that help school administrators identify if a student has high-cost special education needs. These two approaches are sometimes combined:
The intervention-based approach is a formula-based method that does not require formal assessments before intervention strategies are introduced. Nevertheless these students must undergo a formal assessment no later than the end of the following school year. Under this approach, teachers with the appropriate training are able to use and interpret assessment instruments and develop the necessary intervention measures to address the student's immediate needs while waiting for a more formal assessment. A student Individual Education Plan (IEP) should be initiated at this stage. The intervention-based approach is designed to provide immediate attention to the high-cost special education (HCSE) student by addressing the student's learning problems as soon as they are identified. This approach serves to mitigate some of the subsequent learning problems that may be experienced in later grades.
IEP: Individual Education Plan
An IEP can also be called an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) or an Individual Program Plan (IPP).
IEPs will vary depending on the educational jurisdiction.
A student who has been identified by a team of experts as having high cost special education needs must have an IEP in place, one that will map his or her progress during the school year.
The IEP will identify the curricular areas that will need to be modified or it will state whether the child requires an alternative curriculum which may be the case for students with severe to profound HCSE needs.
The IEP will also identify the accommodations and or any special educational services the child may need to reach their full potential.
The assessment-based approach involves classifying student needs into recognized high-cost categories and providing a "per pupil" funding allocation to support individualized programming. Severe to profound high-cost special education needs based on permanent physical or intellectual exceptionalities require at least one psycho-educational assessment. These students are identified by a physician's/psychologist's report and are required to have an Individual Education Plan that recognizes the broad range of their physical/intellectual abilities and addresses specific educational, health, and personal care needs.
The objective of the HCSEP is to improve the educational achievement levels of First Nation students on reserve by providing for access to special education programs and services that are culturally sensitive and meet the provincial standards in the locality of the First Nation. The program works to enable students with high-cost special education needs to achieve their fullest potential, as well as increase the number of special needs students acquiring a high school diploma or a certificate of completion.
The outcomes of this program are:
An increased number of high-cost special education students have acquired a high school diploma or a certificate of completion; and
High-cost special needs students are provided with support services as identified through their Individual Education Plans.
Note: Recognizing that students with high-cost special education (HCSE) needs may not achieve the same academic objectives as students without HCSE needs, the goals set out in student individual education plans are a measure of a student's ability to meet or exceed their educational goals, demonstrating progression towards a high school diploma or a certificate of completion.
In keeping with the trend among provincial education systems, HCSEP funding supports both direct and indirect services. This approach will maintain the requirement for formal assessments of students and the development of individual education plans (IEPs), and will also allow First Nation schools the flexibility to employ intervention strategies more quickly.
Activities funded under the program include:
Identifying the students with high-cost special education needs;
Identifying the category or categories of exceptionality that applies to each student;
Preparing an IEP for each student; and
Procuring or delivering the types of services recommended in the student's IEP.
Direct services are program activities such as classroom student intervention and counselling, focused directly on meeting student needs. These activities must represent a minimum of 75% of the annual HCSEP resources (See Section 7 for Eligible Expenditures).
In order to gain the benefits of aggregation, indirect services refer to an array of supportive programs and activities often, but not necessarily, delivered by band-operated schools or Regional First Nation Organizations (may also be referred to as First Nation Regional Management Organizations [FNRMO]).
These activities may represent a maximum of 25% of the annual HCSEP resources (See Section 7 for Eligible Expenditures).
5. Eligible Recipients
5.1 Eligible Recipients (Service Providers)
Eligible recipients of the HCSEP funding are:
provincial ministries of education;
provincial school boards/districts;
private education institutions; or
organizations types which can be designated by band councils (band/settlements, tribal councils, education organizations, political/treaty organizations, public or private organizations engaged by or on behalf of First Nation bands).
Note: Eligible recipients who can only provide special education indirect services are only eligible to receive funding to deliver those indirect services (See Section 7 for Eligible Expenditures).
5.2 Eligible Participants (Students)
To qualify as an eligible participant, the following criteria must be met:
The student with exceptionalities is registered or is eligible to be registered on the nominal roll, i.e. is enrolled in and attending either a band-operated, federal, provincial, or a private/independent school that is recognized by the province as an elementary or secondary institution.
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) must be in place or be in the process of being created when a student has been identified by the school administration or a team of experts as having high-cost special education needs. The IEP must map the student progress during the school year. An IEP is also known as an Individual Learning Plan (ILP), an Individual Program Plan (IPP) or an equivalent plan according to the province of residence.
The student's age is from 4 to 21 years (or the age range eligible for elementary and secondary education support in the province of residence) on December 31 of the school year in which funding support is required.
The student is ordinarily resident on reserve* (a student who is ordinarily resident on reserve lands that are leased is not eligible for funding unless that student is a registered Indian).
*Ordinarily resident on reserve means that the student usually lives at a civic address on reserve, is a child in joint custody who lives on reserve most of the time, or is staying on reserve and has no usual home elsewhere. Students continue to be considered ordinarily resident on reserve if they return to live on reserve with their parents, guardians or maintainers during the year, even if they live elsewhere while attending school or working at a summer job. (In this context, reserves are deemed to include all land set aside by the federal government for the use and occupancy of an Indian band, along with all other Crown lands which are recognized by DIAND as settlement lands of the Indian band of which the student is a resident.)
Note: In the case of a child in the care of a Child and Family Services Agency, or in the care of the province, the residency of the child is determined by the residency of the guardian with whom the child is placed. A guardian is a person who assumes authority for the child through a legal guardianship agreement.
6. Funding Request Process
Submission of funding requests
HCSEP is a national program that is managed and funded by INAC regional offices. Each year, INAC regional offices solicit, review, and evaluate incoming HCSEP funding requests (e.g. a proposal, work plan or application) from eligible recipients.
Eligible recipients must submit detailed requests for all the high-cost special education activities to be undertaken during the school year, clearly stating how the proposed activities will further the objectives of the program and respond to the students' high-cost special education needs and the expected results of the program.
The programs or services that are to be implemented or maintained during the school year must be comparable to the high-cost special educational programs and services that are currently rendered by the (relevant or applicable) provincial schools.
Deadline for submission of funding requests
Capacity to manage the implementation of the activities proposed in the funding request;
Engagement and commitment involving support from schools and communities;
Comparability with programs and services provided by provincial schools within the locality of the First Nation;
Implementation activities that identify timelines, cost-effectiveness and, anticipated impact on outcomes;
Management activities that support governance, deliverables, monitoring, and reporting; and
Costs assessed on the basis of estimation of reasonableness of expenditures.
Note: Meeting these criteria does not guarantee funding from the High-Cost Special Education Program. Funding is limited overall by total available funding both nationally and regionally.
Review and Approval of Funding Requests
The funding requests will be reviewed and approved by the INAC regional office or jointly by the INAC regional office and a First Nation management organization. A written response will be sent to applicants to confirm whether, or not, their funding request has been approved.
Funding Approaches and Use of Funding
Funding is available through Set contribution funding, Fixed contribution funding and Flexible contribution funding. Your regional office will inform you about eligibility for these funding approaches.
Notes to Recipients
Recipients shall use these guidelines in conjunction with their Funding Agreement for the management of funds received and expended for the delivery of this program, e.g. the retention, the use and the reimbursement of unexpended funding, the redirection of funds received under a Flexible contribution, etc.
The use of unexpended Fixed funding (i.e. surplus):
The retention of unexpended Fixed funding is only applicable when program delivery requirements identified in the funding agreement have been met in the fiscal year for which the fixed funding was provided. Under meeting those requirements, the surplus may be retained and used for purposes consistent with the delivery requirements of the HCSEP.
Unexpended funding in a fiscal year that remains unspent at the end of the following fiscal year must be reimbursed to the department.
The use of unexpended Flexible funding (i.e. surplus):
The funding provided in a fiscal year is to be used by a HCSEP recipient in that year and based on the recipient's cash flow requirements for that fiscal year. However, if exceptional circumstances such as delays in the project or other circumstances beyond the recipient's control occur during the period of the funding agreement or the program, service, project or activity, the recipient may retain unexpended funding remaining at the end of each fiscal year during the period of the funding agreement, for use in the next year to continue to achieve results toward the HCSEP program, service, project or activity objectives being funded.
No carry over will be permitted as a means to avoid program funds from lapsing at year end.
Contact your regional office to confirm the validity of any carry-over of funds.
Unexpended funding identified for a program in a fiscal year that is not used by the recipient in the next fiscal year to continue to achieve results towards program delivery requirements must be reimbursed to the department.
Unexpended funding amounts remaining at the expiry of the funding agreement or the completion of the program, service, project or activity, whichever comes first, must be reimbursed to the department.
The redirection of Flexible funding:
The HCSEP offers the Flexible funding approach to eligible recipients in order to provide students with access to required specialized services. That funding approach allows the redirection of funding among the various cost categories/functional areas within the HCSEP budget activity. The redirection of funding must be based on changing needs of students, to ensure identified students do not have interruption in services due to a situational change. When redirection of funds takes place, the recipient's funding request (proposal, work plan or application), funding agreement and/or budget allocation will be amended if necessary and approved by both parties.
Contact your regional office to confirm the validity of any redirection of funds.
While there is not a limit between specific cost category breakdowns, there is a certain limit for redirection of overall Direct Service and Indirect Service cost categories. Direct service expenditures must always represent a minimum of 75% of the annual HCSEP resources provided to a recipient in order to ensure that activities and services are targeted to costs directly associated with student needs in an educational setting, including culturally sensitive components. (Refer to Section 7 below for eligible direct and indirect services expenditures.)
7. Eligible Expenditures
HCSEP programs and services are divided into two categories: Direct (First Level Services) and Indirect (Second Level Services).
Direct services must represent a minimum of 75% of the annual HCSEP resources. The direct services HCSEP allocation is to be spent on high-cost student support services. The following is a list of eligible expenditures for direct services:
Costs associated with tuition (and tuition top ups) for special education students attending specialized and non-specialized school institutions (i.e. band operated, federal, provincial, or private/independent schools);
Costs associated with in-school expertise as well as the development and monitoring of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or other professional assessments using provincially recognized methods and techniques;
Salaries/benefits for special education teachers;
Salaries/benefits for individual teacher aide / paraprofessional workers;
Costs associated with educational psychological services;
Costs associated with counselling / social work services;
Costs associated with services provided by Elders;
Costs associated with speech / language services;
Costs associated with occupational therapy services;
Costs associated with physical therapy services;
Costs associated with instructional / resource materials; and
Costs associated with assistive technologies / equipment purchases.
Assistive technologies and equipment purchases
The following list of Adaptive Hardware and Software is provided as an example of the types of tools that can be used in the classroom to assist the high cost special education needs students.
Audiocalc is a talking scientific calculator;
AudiSee is an audio-visual FM system used by oral-deaf or hard of hearing students (enhances understanding of speech and filters environmental noise);
Dream Writer Smart Keyboard is a portable keyboard with a built in word processor;
Franklin Language Master is a Merriam-Webster dictionary 300,000 word spell checker with visual and auditory feedback;
Hewlett Packard Scanner and Laser Jet Printer;
Juliet Braille Embosser is a Braille printer;
Kurzweil Personal Reader is a scan and text reading technology;
Magna Cam is a portable scanner and print magnifier (mini-screen/TV/eye-wear);
Tracker 2000 is a head mouse and bat keyboard; and
V-Cam is a head mounted zoom-lens (Jordy - zoom - lens video eyewear).
JAWS for Windows / DOS speech output synthesizer (screen reader);
Open Book Unbound OCR software, scan text and convert to E-text;
Text Help, Wordsmith & Inspiration (multi sensory computer software that assists reading fluency and enhances writing development for students with reading and written language difficulties); and
Zoom Text (print magnification screen reader).
Up to 25 percent of the HCSEP allocation may be spent on school activities and services that will improve special education programs for high-cost special education needs students. The following is a list of eligible expenditures for indirect services:
Costs associated with providing information services;
Costs associated with contracting professional high-cost special education support and professional assessment services;
Costs associated with professional development for professional accreditations;
Costs associated with other professional development (e.g. workshops, conferences);
Costs associated with accommodations (e.g. lodging (room and board);
Costs associated with accommodation needs, and may also include changes in how a student accesses information and demonstrates learning. These may include changes in the method of instruction, the curriculum, and the environment;
Costs associated with transportation (e.g. the transportation of severely disabled, special day-class pupils, and orthopedically impaired pupils who require a vehicle with a wheelchair lift, as specified in their IEP); and
Costs associated with emergency transportation.
Administration Costs: Direct and indirect services funding may be used for administration support. Eligible administration costs include only the actual costs associated directly with administering HCSEP and must not exceed 10% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs. The program's Data Collection Instrument (DCI) will automatically calculate the amount. Eligible administration costs include, but are not limited to:
The collection, maintenance, and reporting of data and information in accordance with program and financial reporting; and
Costs associated with ensuring that personal information is appropriately managed and safeguarded during its collection, retention, use, disclosure and disposal.
Further distribution of funds by INAC's funding recipients: When a funding recipient further transfers, to a Third Party, funds that were received under this program, the 10% allowed for administration costs must be divided between the parties, as agreed to between the parties. The total administration costs retained by all parties must not exceed 10% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs.
8. Ineligible Expenditures
Ineligible expenditures include, but are not limited to:
Services for special education students whose needs are mild to moderate are expected to be addressed by INAC's Elementary and Secondary Education Program.
Enhanced programs and services for gifted students or enriched, subject-specific programming for students streamed into, for example, drama and the arts are not eligible for HCSEP funding.
Expenditures for constructing, operating, and maintaining facilities, or purchasing vehicles are provided through INAC's Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program and cannot be charged to the HCSEP budget allocation.
Duplication of federal funding for a given activity (i.e. receipt of funding from more than one federal source for the same activity).
9. Maximum Program Contribution
The maximum contribution for high-cost special education services per student shall not exceed the costs in accordance with the educational components set out below:
Tuition Rate for Specialized Schools (e.g. Provincial School for the Deaf)
$65,000 is the maximum amount allowed per year, per high-cost special education student attending a specialized school. The student must be registered or be eligible to be included on the Nominal Roll. When this funding allocation is provided for a student, the band council is ineligible to receive the regular elementary or secondary education program funds for that student.
Tuition for Non-Specialized Schools
$30,000 is the maximum amount allowed per year for tuition per high-cost special education student attending a band operated, federal, provincial, or private/independent school.
The First Nation that records the student on its Nominal Roll will receive funding for the student through the elementary and secondary education program, and will be eligible to receive additional tuition funding under the HCSEP.
Accommodation for High-Cost Special Needs Students (includes room and board)
$50,000 is the maximum amount allowed per year for a high-cost special education student.
Transportation for High-Cost Special Needs Students
$5,000 is the maximum allowed per year, per student for transportation costs.
$5,000 is the maximum amount allowed per year, per student for emergency transportation. An example of emergency transportation would be when a designated student who resides away from home has to return home due to a death in the family.
Note: Depending on the severity of the student's exceptionality, according to methods prescribed by the province of residence and provincial standards for funding eligibility, the maximum contribution may be increased by the salary of a teacher's aide (per student) over and above the instructional services tuition rate.
10. Monitoring and Accountability
Funding recipients must deliver the programs in accordance with the provisions of their funding agreement and the program delivery requirements outlined in these National Program Guidelines while also ensuring that the necessary management controls are in place to manage funding and monitor activities. Funding recipients are required to exercise due diligence when approving expenditures and must ensure that such expenditures are in accordance with the eligible expenditures set out in these National Program Guidelines.
INAC is committed to providing assistance to recipients in order for them to effectively carry out obligations under these National Program Guidelines and funding agreements. Regional offices and other departmental contacts are available to answer questions and provide guidance related to INAC programs and funding.
To ensure that program delivery requirements are being met, that funds are expended on the intended purposes and that INAC's accountability to Parliament is being met, activities including audits, evaluations, as well as desk and on-site compliance reviews will be conducted with all funding recipients.
The Department's collection and use of personal information and other records for the purposes of program compliance reviews will be limited to what is necessary to ensure program delivery requirements are met.
The Department is responsible for all information and records in its possession. The confidentiality of the information will be managed by INAC in accordance with the Privacy Act and other related policies on privacy. Recipients are responsible for the protection of personal information per the privacy legislation, regulations and/or policies that govern them up to the point that it is transferred to INAC.
11. Reporting Requirements
The reporting requirements (program and financial reporting) are listed in the recipient's funding agreement, and details on these requirements are available in the Reporting Guide. Recipients are responsible for ensuring that reporting requirements are met and reports are accurate and submitted on or before the established due dates.Recipients who have access to the INAC Services Portal can access the reporting forms by opening a session on the Portal. If you do not have access to the Portal, contact your regional office.
Recipients must report on all funds received and expended, including the use of unexpended funding they were allowed to retain to use in the following fiscal year.
Recipients shall use these guidelines in conjunction with their Funding Agreement with respect to reporting requirements.
You can also write to:
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
10 Wellington Street
Gatineau QC K1A 0H4
Fax (819) 934-1478 Education@aadnc-aandc.gc.ca
These National Program Guidelines can be consulted in the Education National Program Guidelines page of INAC's website and through the View Instructions button on the first page of this program's Data Collection Instrument (DCI).