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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs: FY2016

Early Childhood Special Education Program Improvement
Fund Code: 298

Purpose:The purpose of this federal grant program is to support preschool district activities to ensure that eligible children with disabilities, ages 3-5, receive a free and appropriate public education that includes special education and related services designed to meet their individual needs, and that is provided in natural/least restrictive environments. This grant is intended to further district-level early childhood special education (ECSE) practices that align with priorities identified by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).
Priorities: The priorities of this grant align with the following Department-wide goals:
  • Strengthening curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Improving educator effectiveness
  • Using data and technology to support student performance
The following priority areas, aligned with the above referenced goals, have been identified by the Department as integral to school districts' efforts to build systems that strengthen and improve Early Childhood Special Education practices and outcomes as part of the Department's ECSE Strategic Plan. Districts must select one priority area.

Successful grant proposals will be focused on one or more of the following activities within the selected priority area that target training and technical assistance by supporting systematic use of data analysis, program planning and evaluation, and continuous improvement at the individual, classroom, building and/or district level to improve:

Priority I. Instruction to increase children's educational outcomes in:
  1. Social/Emotional Skills and Social Relationships;
  2. Acquiring and Using Knowledge and Skills; and
  3. Taking Appropriate Action to Meet Needs
  • Activities related to instruction to increase educational outcomes for children could include:
    • The integration of technology to support data collection and analysis, and progress monitoring to support instruction
    • Preschool Positive Behavioral Supports (PBS) (using the Pyramid Model strategies)
    • Coordinated early literacy initiatives
    • The implementation of new assessments or curriculum(a)
    • Professional development in nonverbal communication and assistive technology
Priority II. Systems to assist children's transition from early intervention to prekindergarten and from prekindergarten to kindergarten
  • Activities related to assisting children's transition could include:
    • Home partnership projects to improve timely referrals to special education services, including visits in the natural environments
    • Development and implementation of strategies to ensure timelines are met, including delays outside the districts control: i.e., late referrals from Early Intervention, summer referrals, delays in receiving signed consent, delays in receiving signed IEP
    • Parent workshops designed to support families and children for successful transitions
    • Development of processes to conduct eligibility determination assessments and meetings in venues and at times convenient to families
Priority III. Systems to engage effectively with families
  • Activities related to engaging effectively with families could include:
    • The development of materials for parents including handbooks and make-and-take activities
    • Workshops and trainings for parents and educators to develop and strengthen school-family partnerships
    • Opportunities for trainings on evidence based strategies to develop cultural competence
    • Parent to Parent support groups
    • Connections with outside programs/agencies providing support to families (i.e., Federation for Children with Special Needs; Preschool PBS through Pyramid Strategies - Positive Solutions Model; Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC); Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grantees)
Successful grant proposals will articulate how proposed activities contribute to systemic improvement in the identified priority area. Proposals should focus on early childhood special education program improvement and the sustainability of best practices and not on supporting individualized instruction or programming for specific children.
Eligibility:See attached list Download PDF Document  Download Excel Document. Please note districts without preschool students aged 3-5 receiving special education services are not eligible for this grant.
Funding:Federal, the total amount to be awarded is $650,000.
Fund Use: The following are allowable costs:
  • stipends
  • MTRS/Fringe (related to stipends only)
  • tuition costs for college/university courses
  • conference registration costs
  • supplies, materials, and books specifically for program improvement for children with IEPs, aged 3 - 5
  • printing and reproduction of training materials
  • consultant fees (e.g. professional development and program evaluation)
  • substitutes
  • travel for professional development activities
  • computer hardware or software, including site licenses
The following are not allowable costs:
  • food and refreshments
  • indirect costs
  • staff salaries
Project Duration:Upon approval - 6/30/2016
Program Unit:Special Education Planning and Policy
Contact:Helen Skulski
Phone Number:(781) 338-3379
Date Due:The suggested due date is on or before Friday, October 30, 2015
Proposals should be received at the Department by 5:00 p.m. on the date due.
Required Forms:
Download Excel Document
Budget Workbook (which includes the Part I--Standard Contract and Application for Program Grants [signature required], Part II--Budget Detail Pages and Part III--Required Program Information)
Additional Information:
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Budget Workbook Instructions
Download PDF Document  Download Excel Document
List of Eligible Districts
Submission Instructions: The Special Education grant program application (Budget Workbook - Excel) will be submitted electronically via the security portal to the Department by the school district staff person appointed by the Superintendent.

The signed Part I - General - Program Unit Signature Page - (Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants) can be submitted electronically via e-mail using a scanned copy of the page or a hard copy, with an original signature of the Superintendent/Executive Director, can be mailed to address below.

Mail to:

Helen Skulski
Special Education Planning and Policy
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148-4906

Last Updated: August 28, 2015
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