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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2024: Implementing Strategies to Reduce or Eliminate the Use of Time-Out Rooms Federal Competitive Special Education Program Grant

Fund Code: 0213


The purpose of this federally funded competitive grant program is to support schools and districts as they implement strategies, interventions, and supports to reduce or eliminate the use of time-out rooms and increase the amount of time that students spend learning alongside their peers.1 Strategies, interventions, and supports to promote the social emotional wellbeing of students and reduce exclusionary practices are outlined in the memorandum sent on September 10, 2021 and reposted in May of 2023.


Through this competitive grant initiative, applicants will prioritize one or more of the following areas as they relate to the implementation of strategies, interventions, and supports, and the reduction and elimination of the use of time-out rooms:

  1. High Quality Professional Development (HQPD): Conduct comprehensive HQPD for educators, administrators, and support staff on trauma-informed teaching, culturally and linguistically sustaining positive behavior interventions, and alternatives to use of time-out rooms.
  2. Implementation of Restorative Practices: Introduce and integrate restorative practices within the school community to build positive relationships, resolve conflicts, and create a sense of belonging among students.
  3. Behavioral Support Teams: Establish, build capacity, and empower behavioral support teams within each school to assess, plan, and implement individualized culturally and linguistically sustaining interventions for students displaying challenging behaviors.
  4. Parent and Community Engagement: Foster collaboration with parents and guardians, including parent advisory councils (SEPAC and ELPAC), and community members to create a holistic support system for students, ensuring a consistent approach to behavior management both at home and in school.
  5. Data Collection and Evaluation: Implement a robust data collection system to monitor the effectiveness of the implemented strategies to reduce the use of time-out rooms, allowing for ongoing evaluation and adjustment.
  6. Physical Changes and Additional Resources: Modify existing facilities, such as establishing new inclusive and welcoming open spaces for calming and procure supplies and materials to complete these changes.

Expected outcomes:

  • A significant reduction in the use of time-out rooms and an increase in the amount of time students spend learning alongside peers.
  • Improved student emotional and behavioral regulation (self- and/or co-regulation) and overall school climate.
  • Increased collaboration and communication among school staff, parents, and the community.

Any Massachusetts public school district, public school, collaborative, approved special education program, or charter district/school that currently employs the use of one or more time-out rooms are eligible to apply. Competitive priority will be given to Approved Special Education Schools or Collaboratives with a finding under 9.1a and LEAs that have a finding under SE 552 or have received a written summary indicating concerns or a PRS finding related to use of time-out rooms. The final group of successful applicants will represent a geographically diverse group of grantees as well as varying types (large districts/schools, small districts/schools, charter districts/schools, collaboratives, and approved special education programs).

Funding Type:

Federal U.S. Department of Education CFDA: 84.027

Federal grant funds must adhere to:

  • UGG (2 CFR 200)
  • EDGAR As Applicable
  • EDGAR General Fiscal Administration 34 CFR Part 76

A total of approximately $1,500,000 is available through this grant. Base funding of $50,000 will be awarded to each grant recipient.

In addition to the baseline funding, grantees are eligible for additional funding based on the following criteria:

  • Applicant serves 2,000+ students with disabilities (up to an additional $150,000)
  • Applicant serves 1,000–1,999 students with disabilities (up to an additional $50,000)
  • Applicant serves 0–999 students with disabilities (up to an additional $25,000)

This RFP is the governing document for these grant funds.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding becomes available it will be distributed under the same guidelines that appear in this RFP document.

Fund Use:

These funds must be used in ways that are aligned to the grant purpose and priorities described above and that have reasonable likelihood of being sustained (and/or having impact) beyond the grant period. The Department strongly encourages applicants to consider creative ways to collaborate with neighboring schools/districts to maximize regional economies of scale, e.g., HQPD.

Fund use may include, but is not limited to:

  • Contracting with service providers to provide coaching and professional development to staff on content aligned with the purpose of this grant.
  • Purchasing supplies and materials necessary to modify existing or create new open and welcoming alternative spaces for students who are experiencing emotional and behavioral dysregulation.
  • Providing stipends to staff to participate in a cycle of continuous improvement related to this initiative including the task of collecting and analyzing data; planning and implementing interventions; and engaging with various stakeholders.
  • Allowable costs
  • The following are not allowable costs:
    • food and refreshments
    • indirect costs
    • advertising
    • maintenance/repairs
Project Duration:

Upon Approval – 9/30/2024

Contingent upon funding availability, awardees with effective fund utilization, LEA progress towards the goals indicating appropriation and the meeting of grant requirements may be eligible for a continuation grant in Fiscal Year 2025.

Program Unit:

Special Education Planning and Policy Development Office


Bob Hanafin

Date Due:

Tuesday, February 20, 2024* Proposals must be received at the Department by 5:00pm EST on the due date.

*All responses must be received by the due date listed above. Failure to do so will result in disqualification. Responses not received on time will not be reviewed. Applicants applying after the due date may be notified their application was received late and will not be reviewed. Applications must be submitted as directed in the Submissions Instructions below. Failure to do so may result in disqualification. If you need assistance with submitting your application, please reach out to the contact person listed on this funding opportunity.

Required Forms:

Proposal narrative form is contained in the application.

Narrative Questions:

  1. Self-Assessment. Describe the current use of time-out rooms in your district/school/program. Include a description of any relevant protocols or procedures around the use of time-out rooms. Include any available data on the usage of time-out rooms.
  2. Strategy Implementation. Describe your plan for the grant funds aligned to the priorities outlined above. How will you utilize funding to implement strategies, interventions, and supports, with the goal of reducing and/or eliminating the use of time-out rooms?
  3. People and Partners. Include information on team who will be responsible for monitoring the implementation/coordination of this grant. Describe existing and/or planned partnerships with organizations and individuals that will support the goals of this grant.
  4. Monitoring Impact. How will you monitor the impact of these grant funds? What metrics will you use to ensure that you are meeting the desired outcomes of this grant (reduction/elimination of the use of time-out rooms).
  5. Budget. Please provide a brief narrative that outlines your spending plans for the grant funding.
  6. Competitive Priority. Please provide basis for requested additional consideration as outlined in Eligibility section above.

    Applications can legally claim expenses to the grant only as of the DESE approved start date.

GEM$ Submission Instructions:

The FY24 FC244 Grant will be submitted in our new GEM$ system. GEM$ is a cloud-based fiscal and program management grant system that will eventually phase out the use of EdGrants. Grants for Education Management System (GEM$)

Competitive grant applications are considered submitted when the Superintendent / Chief Executive approves the grant application in GEM$. In order to be considered for competitive funding, applicants must submit a grant application by the due date listed in the RFP.

1 Time-out rooms as referred to in this RFP are designated rooms used to temporarily separate the student during the school day from the classroom or the learning activity for the purpose of calming. The Department's regulations in part describe time-out as "a behavioral support strategy developed pursuant to 603 CMR 46.04(1) in which a student temporarily separates from the learning activity or the classroom, either by choice or by direction from staff, for the purpose of calming." 603 CMR 46.02. Different schools use different labels for time-out rooms, including calming rooms, reflection rooms, or cool-down rooms. Spaces solely used for other purposes, such as disciplinary in-school suspensions, are not covered by this grant.

2 SE 55 refers to a special education criterion that is monitored by the Office of Public School Monitoring through observations of special education facilities and classrooms, including time-out rooms.

PSM observations help determine whether the school district provides facilities and classrooms for eligible students that:

  1. maximize the inclusion of such students into the life of the school;
  2. provide accessibility in order to implement fully each student's IEP;
  3. are at least equal in all physical respects to the average standards of general education facilities and classrooms;
  4. are given the same priority as general education programs in the allocation of instructional and other space in public schools in order to minimize the separation or stigmatization of eligible students; and
  5. are not identified by signs or other means that stigmatize such students.

State Requirements: 603 CMR 28.03(1)(b)
Federal Requirements: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Last Updated: January 22, 2024

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