What is the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship?
A public-school education is not right for everyone. Many students learn best in a school setting with smaller class sizes or a more individualized curriculum. Some children may learn better in the home environment. However, private school tuition is expensive and home schooling can be expensive, depending on the type of curriculum chosen. Professional services for students with special needs can also be expensive. What’s a parent who wants the best individualized education for their child with special educational needs to do? The state of Ohio does have solutions for private school and home-schooled children who are in need of special services to optimize their education. As an approved provider for the Ohio Department of Education’s Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship (JPSN) Program, Cincinnati Center for Improved Communication, Inc. helps many students with identified speech and language disabilities achieve – whether home-schooled or in a private school setting.
According to CCIC’s Director, Sharon Collins, MS, CCC-S/LP, COM, “The Jon Peterson Scholarship Program can be a game changer for parents who wish to home school or send their children with special needs to a private educational program rather than the local public school. It enables them to have options for their child’s educational programming.”
“Our son received the Jon Peterson scholarship three years ago for a language-based learning disability. CCIC has been influential in his progress over the past several years. Our son has sessions two to three times a week, year-round. Not only does CCIC accommodate his extremely busy schedule, they keep me up-to-date on the number of sessions he has completed and provide timely reports to keep track of his progress. CCIC has truly been a lifesaver for our son’s academic success.”
Ohio Governor, John Kasich, finalized the creation of the Jon Peterson Program in 2011 as part of the state budget. With its creation, any student with special needs who is home-schooled or attends a private school and has an IEP (a written statement of the educational program designed to meet the individual student’s needs) has the right to apply for a scholarship. And, while in previous years applications were only taken twice per year, new applications may now be completed and submitted at any time during the year.
The program coordinates efforts between the child’s district of residence and the district in which the private school is located. Children must be identified as having a disability via an Evaluation Team Report. The student must qualify for special education and/or related services as described by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA). The district of residence must then devise the IEP, containing specific goals and relevant providers.
“Our family has worked continuously with professionals from CCIC for the past six years. Our younger son, who has learning challenges, is a recipient of a Jon Peterson Scholarship award and it is so helpful to have someone ensure that we are dotting all our “i’s” and crossing our “t’s”. If you are considering CCIC, we strongly recommend it. The staff of CCIC has been so helpful in keeping us up-to-date on any paperwork required by the state.”
“At times, even though the child does evidence speech and/or language deficits, he or she may not be severe enough to qualify for services in the public schools,” states Collins. Students in kindergarten through grade 12 are eligible to apply, but must demonstrate skill deficits that impact educational performance and align with the school district’s requirements for service provision. “For those children who do meet the criteria, the scholarship award covers the fees for individualized speech and language services provided by CCIC; parents typically have no out of pocket expense to get the special services they need to optimize their child’s educational achievement.”
Maximum annual scholarship amounts for the 2019 fiscal year will range from $7,598 (Category 1 – Speech or Language Impairment) to $27,000 (Category 6 – Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, or Hearing and Vision Impaired). Category 1 awards, however, may only be used for payment of related services and are not eligible to be used for tuition at the nonpublic school. If a child applies part way through the school year, the scholarship award is pro-rated.
CCIC is also an approved provider of the Ohio Department of Education’s Autism Scholarship Program. “I would encourage parents of students with special needs to learn more about the educational options available to their child,” says Collins. “It can make a world of difference.”
In addition to their two office locations, CCIC, INC. provides services on the campuses of the following private schools:
- Bethany School
- Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy
- Liberty Bible Academy
- Miami Valley Christian Academy
- Montessori Academy of Cincinnati
- Otto Armleder School
- The Summit Country Day School
CCIC offices are located in Blue Ash and in Mariemont. CCIC also provides services on the campuses of numerous private schools throughout greater Cincinnati. For additional information concerning the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship services provided by CCIC, please call 513.771.7655.
For a full listing of all educational choice programs offered by the State of Ohio Department of Education, please visit their website at www.education.ohio.gov.