The Special Needs Education Allowance (SNEA) assists with funding special education and related educationally required services for dependent children of employees who are eligible for the Department of State Education Allowance (DSSR 270). This includes Foreign Service and those agencies that participate in ICASS. Employees should explore with their respective agency if there are any restrictions to accessing the Education Allowance.
The Bureau of Medicine’s (MED) Office of Child and Family Program (CFP) determines eligibility and provides authorization for educationally required services to be reimbursed by SNEA. The specific eligibility and documentation requirements for authorizing the SNEA are covered in the DSSR 276 and 3 FAM 3280.
A child must have a valid medical clearance to be eligible to apply for SNEA funding. If your child does not have a valid clearance, please contact CFP MEDCFP@state.gov. CFP will provide guidance on next steps to employees. A child with a Class 2 post not approved, Class 5, or Class 6 will not be eligible for the SNEA away from post allowance if one or more custodial parents is residing in the United States. 3 FAM 3283 (c )
Reference: DSSR 271.m, DSSR 276.8, 3 FAM 3284
SNEA is modeled after U.S. education law; specifically, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The child’s educational disability must impact access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
To be eligible for SNEA, a child must have a formal Individualized Learning Plan (ILP), Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or equivalent, which outlines the specialized instruction and/or related services that are required to meet the child’s educational needs.
Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Individualized Learning Plan (ILP), or Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP)
The following is a list of required elements of the IEP, ILP or equivalent as defined by IDEA 2004 which must be present for SNEA to be authorized:
- Present levels of academic achievement and functional performance
- How the disability affects the child’s involvement and performance in the curriculum
- Description of how the child’s progress towards meeting educational goals will be measured
- Required services to be provided with the identification of the provider, location of the service, and frequency and duration of the service
- Must be documented on school letterhead, with the school year, dated with signatures of those attending the learning plan meeting (e.g., the parent/guardian(s), a school representative, teachers, learning specialists and other providers as appropriate)
- Must indicate all service providers; to include within school and if services are provided outside of the school learning support staff, identifying who is providing the service and the plan for collaborating with the school. 3 FAM 3285 (d)
Special Areas of Consideration
Educational Consultants: 3 FAM 3288.1 (6)
The cost of hiring an Educational Consultant may be covered by SNEA specifically for the purpose of identifying possible schools or Extended School Year (ESY) programs. The use of an educational consultant must be preapproved by CFP and the reimbursement is limited to 7,500 USD per assignment. The SNEA cable for reimbursement will be released upon the employee’s arrival to the overseas post of assignment.
Extended School Year: 3 FAM 3288.1 (7)
Extended School Year (ESY) services are provided during extended school breaks to those children who, because of their educational disabilities regress, losing previously learned basic skills, and/or require more time than their peers to regain those skills. The need for ESY must be specifically documented as a required service in the child’s IEP, ILP or equivalent.
1:1 Instructional Aides: 3 FAM 3288.1 (8)
In-school Instructional Aides (Instructional Assistant, Aide, Para-Educator, Paraprofessional, Teacher’s Aide) will be covered by SNEA when the services are specified as required in the IEP/ILP and approved by MED/CFP. CFP recommends that schools employ and provide supervision for the Instructional Aide because of potential liability and the necessity for the family to adhere to local labor laws, as well as vetting, child protection, collaboration, consultation, and training concerns.
As soon as the need for a 1:1 Aide is identified by the school, parents are strongly encouraged to contact MED/CFP as soon as possible to receive guidance. If the parent is required to employ the Aide, then MED CFP recommends that the employee consult with Post Management about any local law requirements prior to entering into an employment contract with the Aide.
Psychoeducational Testing and Other Evaluations: 3 FAM 3288.1 (9, 10)
To include educationally required psychoeducational evaluations, pediatric developmental assessments, occupational therapy assessments, speech language assessments, etc.
CFP encourages employees to be proactive and seek direction from CFP if they anticipate an evaluation will be necessary for their child. In many cases, it is also beneficial to discuss the possibility of any assessment/evaluation with the RMO/P, who may have additional information about local or regional resources or testing sites.
Educational assessments/evaluations are to be preapproved by CFP before the service is initiated when a child has a suspected diagnosis that may be adversely impacting education or when a child has a known educational disability that requires updated evaluation, which in the U.S. is completed triennially.
The CFP preapproval is to ensure that an evaluation is conducted by a qualified person, addresses the relevant questions, and provides recommendations about required education-related services that the school can then act on.
Required supporting documentation includes describing the purpose and necessity of the evaluation from the school and/or medical provider. The child’s report cards, learning plan, standardized test scores, and other school or medical provider information will also be reviewed.
Direct Individualized Specialized Instruction: 3 FAM 3288.1 (2)
What was sometimes referred to as tutoring, but should be more appropriately called specialized instruction, can be authorized through SNEA with appropriate documentation. Usually this service is provided through the school although occasionally it can be authorized for a provider outside the school when the school does not have the resource in house.
*Tutoring to prevent failure or improve a grade may be covered through the Supplementary Instruction Allowance (DSSR 276.9) for dependent children of employees of some agencies when serving overseas and when properly documented by the school* Please inquire with your post FMO and/or respective agency for details.
Application and Appeals Process
SNEA requests can be submitted beginning 1 July of the application school year through 31 December of the following year.
Example: 2021-2022 school year, SNEA applications will be reviewed for eligibility between 1 July 2021 through 31 December 2022. SNEA applications submitted after the deadline cannot be reviewed by CFP.
A SNEA application is only needed when educationally required services and supports require charges above the regular school tuition. Please do not submit a SNEA application until confirming that learning supports are at additional cost. This information may not be known until you are at post or once your child begins the school year.
Some international schools provide learning supports at no additional cost. If learning supports do not incur an additional expense, then a SNEA application review by CFP is not needed. Please confirm with the school before submitting a SNEA application and reach out to MEDCFP@state.gov with questions.
Step 1) The employee should apply for SNEA as either a NEW or a RENEWAL request.
New SNEA applications should be submitted:
- a) The first time SNEA is requested
- b) When it has been more than two years since the last SNEA authorization cable
For new SNEA requests, employees should first contact their respective Health Unit to schedule an appointment with their RMO/P to complete a SNEA referral. The CFP Nurse is available to provide guidance to the family regarding the SNEA application process and supporting documentation requirements.
Renewal SNEA requests should be submitted:
- a) If the child is currently receiving SNEA or
- b) When it has been less than two years since receipt of the last SNEA cable
Amendment SNEA requests should be submitted:
- a) When there has been an error in the information on the cable
- b) If the services change in frequency or provider or
- c) If additional services are required (including testing)
Renewal and amendment requests do not require the SNEA Referral from the RMOP
Step 2) Complete the application:
- Services requested: parents should first verify if required services are at cost above the regular school tuition. If learning support services are at no additional cost, then there is no need to request SNEA funding.
- For services requested, CFP will need the name of the provider, location (i.e., at or outside of school), frequency (# sessions/week) and duration (# minutes/session).
Step 3) Once the SNEA referral and SNEA request checklist are submitted to CFP (MEDCFP@state.gov), the CFP Nurse will screen the documentation submitted and work with the parents to obtain any additional required information. After the employee confirms the services requested for eligibility review, the SNEA application will be assigned to a CFP specialist.
Step 4) The CFP specialist will review to determine if additional clarification is needed. If so, the CFP specialist will contact the employee to discuss.
Step 5) The CFP specialist will inform the employee of the decision regarding the requested services (approved, not approved) and confirm the services to be authorized. Once the employee confirms the approved services, the CFP specialist will draft a SNEA authorization cable. Once released, the SNEA cable is sent to the employee, RMOP and FMO at post.
Step 6) If a SNEA request is not approved, the CFP Nurse will inform parents of the appeal process. If the employee does not agree with the SNEA determination, then it is their right to appeal that decision through the SNEA Medical Review Panel (MRP) process.
All requests require an IEP, ILP, or equivalent that addresses educationally required services to be provided during the application school year. For example, the SNEA request for school year 2021-2022 must have a 2021-2022 IEP, ILP or equivalent. If there is no IEP, ILP, or equivalent, please reach out to MED/CFP for assistance.
For those families that are arriving to a new post, or at the current post the school is delayed in developing a learning plan for the application school year, please notify CFP to determine the documentation that would be required for a partial year services SNEA cable eligibility review. A partial year services SNEA cable will fund the regular school tuition for the entire school year, and educationally required services and supports for the beginning of the school year, in order to allow the school time to develop a current learning plan.
Forward all documentation not previously submitted to Medical Records for prior SNEA applications or medical clearance updates in .pdf format to both MEDCFP@state.gov and to MEDMR@state.gov. This will prevent duplication in the record and prevent delays in uploading documentation into the medical file. Formats such as .zip and .jpg will not be uploaded and will delay processing. Please contact CFP if you have questions regarding the information that is available in your child’s medical file.
Required information as applicable:
- Most recent evaluations/assessment
- Report cards for the past 3 years
- Most recent progress reports for related services (i.e, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy)
- Most recent school-based assessments (MAP, other standardized testing)
- Treatment plans for the application school year
- For services outside the school:
- proposed service provider name, credentials, and contact information
- School documentation addressing need to access required educational services outside the school due to unavailability of learning supports within the school AND confirming collaboration with the proposed service provider
- For assessments/evaluations:
- Proposed evaluator name, credentials, contact information, location, and proposed timeline of completion
- School documentation addressing learning support team/educator concerns, and need for assessments/evaluations
- For 1:1 Aide employed by employee/parent, Preschool, Extended School Year, and Educational Consultant services, contact CFP directly to receive individualized guidance
- For Away from Post SNEA eligibility, contact CFP directly to receive individualized guidance
Please contact CFP for questions regarding documentation requirements and/or if there is a delay in obtaining required information. If a proposed evaluator/specialist is to be determined (TBD), this will not delay the review of the SNEA application for eligibility; however, the SNEA cable cannot be issued until this information is provided for CFP to review and approve.
Reimbursement of Funds
MED/CFP authorizes the SNEA to cover the costs of required assessments and appropriate follow-up services which are consistent with the DSSR. However, parents are responsible for the up-front costs of these assessments and services. To prevent delay in families recovering allowable expenses, reimbursement by the U.S. Government should precede any reimbursement recovered by insurance. Parents should submit paid, itemized receipts through E2 if directed or follow their respective agency’s reimbursement process.
For non-recurring high cost educationally required services (i.e., tiered level school learning supports) the employee is to notify the post FMO to arrange direct payment. The post FMO will then contact CFP to review the voucher request and confirm if the expense is authorized for SNEA reimbursement.
Parents are encouraged to file claims with their insurance company in a timely manner. Insurance company reimbursements for covered services which have already been paid for by the U.S. Government must be submitted to the post Financial Management Section with the accompanying insurance Explanation of Benefits (EOB). CFP is the authorizing official for SNEA allowable expense reimbursements. If there are questions, please contact the Child and Family Program.
SNEA and Clearances
Any child who is given SNEA funding cannot retain a Class 1 Medical Clearance unless the funding is for the purposes of testing only. Once the testing results are available, CFP would then review and update the child’s medical record.
If during the SNEA application review by CFP, a child is found eligible for funding due to an educational disability, or if a new medical diagnosis is identified that is related to an educational or mental health need, the child’s medical file will be updated. CFP is required to notify Medical Clearances with an educational and/or mental health recommendation. This may result in a change in the child’s medical clearance status.