COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Education is set to receive additional federal funds to help schools address challenges faced by vulnerable student populations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials say $56 million in extra funding was provided to the department under the American Rescue Plan Act to support the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grant programs targeted at students with disabilities, and to support specific and urgent needs of students who are experiencing homelessness.

“South Carolina’s vulnerable student populations continue to be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “These funds will be used by school districts to address the specific needs of students with disabilities and those experiencing homelessness so that they have every opportunity to be successful now and into the future.”

According to the SC Dept. of Education, the state’s allocation of more than $43 million can be used for all expenses allowed under the IDEA, with a focus on alleviating challenges sparked by the pandemic when it comes to equity in education for students with disabilities.

Uses may include:

• Providing compensatory services based on Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team decisions;

• Providing support and direct services for students with disabilities;

• Providing positive behavior and intervention supports and mental health services;

• Improving the use of technology in the classroom and/or in a remote setting to enhance learning;

• Implementing transition services to support postsecondary activities; and

• Assisting districts in meeting personnel shortages including hiring additional personnel to provide special education and related services and reducing caseloads in key areas.

The funding will be distributed through two formula grants.

IDEA Section 611 for children ages three through 21 and Section 619 for children ages three through five. Each district’s allocation can be found here

McKinney-Vento Homeless Funding

South Carolina was allocated $13.8 million in homeless children and youth funding with $10.4 million going directly to school districts and the remaining amount reserved by the SCDE’s McKinney-Vento Program to implement activities that will support districts in identifying and supporting children and youth who are experiencing homelessness.

During the 2019-2020 school year, approximately 12,000 South Carolina students were identified as experiencing homelessness. The population includes children under the age of five and students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

Uses of this funding may include: 

  • Providing wraparound services, which may be provided in collaboration with and/or through contracts with community-based organizations, including:
    • Academic supports
    • Trauma-informed care
    • Mental health services
  • Purchasing needed supplies, such as:
    • Eyeglasses
    • School supplies
    • Personal care items
  • Providing transportation to enable students to attend classes and participate fully in school activities;
  • Providing access to reliable, high-speed internet for students.

Each district’s allocation can be found here

Public schools in South Carolina have received $3.3 billion in federal COVID-19 educational relief funding dating back to March 2020 in support of school reopening and addressing student, staff, and community pandemic-related needs.