UNCLASSIFIED (U)

3 FAM 3280

SPECIAL NEEDS EDUCATION ALLOWANCE

(CT:PER-992;   05-20-2020)
(Office of Origin:  DGTM)

3 FAM 3281  Authorities

(CT:PER-949;   06-27-2019)
(Uniform U.S. government civilian employees in foreign areas)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

The authorities cited for this subchapter are:

(1)  5 U.S.C. 5924 (4)

(2)  Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR), particularly Chapters 270-276.8, Child with Special Needs

3 FAM 3282  General  

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform U.S. government civilian employees in foreign areas)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

a. The Special Needs Education Allowance (SNEA) is an education allowance to assist employees who have children with special educational needs. The allowance assists with defraying necessary expenses incurred in order to provide adequate special education for employees’ children when those expenses are not otherwise compensated and when they are incurred by the employee by reason of service in a foreign area.

b. Education allowances are governed by the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR), particularly DSSR 270.  

3 FAM 3283  Eligibility

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform U.S. government civilian employees in foreign areas)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

a. SNEA applies to children who, if they were attending school in the U.S., would be entitled to educational benefits under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq, and/or under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

b. At the request of an employee with a child with special needs requiring additional education and related services, the authorizing officer may grant SNEA (DSSR 274.12c) in lieu of the ordinary school-at-post, home study/private instruction, or school-away-from-post education allowance rate. This benefit is available from birth to the twenty-first birthday for children who would fall under IDEIA if residing in the United States (or, if the child has not yet completed grade 12, until the end of the school year that is in progress when the child reaches the age of 22) and for grades Kindergarten through 12 for children who would fall under Section 504 if residing in the United States.  If an employee does not apply for SNEA for a particular foreign post assignment and uses another educational allowance instead, he/she may do so.  This does not preclude applying for SNEA at a later date.  SNEA is post-specific and does not transfer automatically from post to post.

c.  Away-from-Post educational allowances, including SNEA, are not available for 1) children who reside in the United States and have a natural or adoptive parent or step-parent who is residing in the United States (except where the employee establishes that the parent residing in the United States is divested of legal custody of the child or is mentally or physically unfit to care for the child or the step-parent is estranged from the employee); or 2) children on whose behalf the employee is receiving a separate maintenance allowance.

3 FAM 3284  Required Documentation

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform U.S. government civilian employees in foreign areas)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

a. The employee must provide the authorizing official written evidence that the child meets the definition of a child who is eligible for SNEA under DSSR 271m, i.e., has a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) and/or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

b. The child must have a formal Individual Learning Plan (ILP) or equivalent prepared by a qualified medical or educational professional which delineates the education services required for the child’s special educational needs.  Reimbursement may only be for those services provided for in the ILP that are normally provided free of charge in U.S. public schools.  For a child under age three, reimbursement is limited to those services provided for in an Individual Family Service Plan, and which would normally be provided free of charge by public schools in the United States. 

c.  Responsibility for documentation rests with the employee. Authorizing officials are not permitted to authorize payment when documentation of allowable items is not clear.

3 FAM 3285  Department of State Policy

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(State)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

a. The purpose of SNEA is to assist employees serving at foreign posts in obtaining for their children with special educational needs special early intervention, kindergarten, elementary, and secondary educational services, including such educational services as are provided in the United States under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, that public schools in the United States ordinarily provide without charge.

b. By assisting employees with the fulfillment of the educational needs of their children, SNEA encourages employees who have children with special educational needs to bid on and serve in foreign assignments.  It is in the Department’s interest to maximize employees’ ability to serve in foreign assignments.  

c.  International schools vary in their ability to match the support structure, special education environment, and services found in U.S. public schools.  For this reason, the Department authorizes SNEA as flexibly as possible in order to accommodate the unique and often challenging circumstances of overseas operating environments and foreign-area assignments within the parameters established by the DSSR 270.

d. Ideally, special education services should be provided in a school setting as part of a child’s educational curriculum.  However, educating children with special needs in overseas settings often involves unique challenges.  Therefore, in certain circumstances where specific special education services cannot be provided directly in a school setting, but are available as services offered outside school or school hours or via the internet (e.g., online speech therapy), such services will be carefully reviewed and may be authorized by MED/CFP.  Authorization may be provided when the child’s ILP or equivalent defines the need for such services to obtain an education; accessing the intervention in this manner does not contravene the intent of the intervention as needed for special education; the services can be appropriately provided outside school and/or outside normal school hours; and the services are normally provided free of charge in U.S. public schools. 

e. Because most children of Department of State and other Foreign Affairs Agencies’ employees assigned domestically would be enrolled in one of the school districts in the Washington, DC, metro area (Washington, DC, northern Virginia, or Maryland counties adjacent to Washington, DC), school districts in these areas will generally be the point of reference when determining what special educational services are “ordinarily provided without charge by public schools in the United States.” Within this context, services named in a child’s ILP, or equivalent document, may be eligible to be covered by SNEA, when consistent with the child’s educational disability and approved by MED/CFP.

f.  SNEA is subject to other applicable legal authorities and policies that govern education allowances.

g. It is the policy of the Department in managing SNEA to maintain effective internal and financial controls; to ensure operational efficiency through ongoing systems reviews; and to ensure that the Department is in compliance with relevant regulations and laws.

3 FAM 3286  ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

3 FAM 3286.1  Under Secretary for Management (M)

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

The Under Secretary for Management has overall responsibility for the Special Needs Education Allowance (SNEA).  M or his/her designee provides broad oversight for the administration of SNEA and ensures that M Family bureaus effectively coordinate on SNEA policy and implementation.

3 FAM 3286.2  Bureau of Administration (A)

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

a. The Office of Allowances (A/OPR/ALS) coordinates interagency policy; administers regulations, standards, and procedures; and establishes rates for SNEA within the government-wide Standardized Regulations (Government Civilians, Foreign Areas) maintained by the Department of State (commonly referred to as the DSSR). 

b. The Office of Overseas Schools (A/OPR/OS) helps parents make informed decisions on their children’s education and, in coordination with the Bureau of Medical Services (MED), can help parents identify resources at post to help meet their child’s special educational needs.

3 FAM 3286.3  Bureau of Medical Services (MED)

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

a. Upon validation of services in a child’s ILP or equivalent as services which would be provided for free in a U.S. public school, MED’s Office of Child and Family Programs (MED/MH/MHS/CFP, hereafter referred to as MED/CFP) determines SNEA eligibility and provides authorization for the appropriate services to be paid for/reimbursed by SNEA.  If an employee lacks an ILP for his or her child, MED/CFP can provide guidance to the employee regarding the required documentation and what might substitute as an ILP equivalent. The ILP or its equivalent will be used to support authorization for payment for allowable reimbursable expenses.  MED also consults and coordinates with the Office of Overseas Schools and employee parents of children with special needs to assess the availability and adequacy of special educational resources available at posts.

b. In addition to notifying the employee requesting SNEA, MED/CFP provides authorization to an employee’s post of assignment via cable for SNEA.    

3 FAM 3286.4  Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM)

(CT:PER-992;   05-20-2020)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

a. GTM’s Office of Career Development and Assignments (GTM/CDA), assists employees as they are preparing for, bidding on, and being paneled to Foreign Service assignments.  GTM/CDA also issues Bidding Instructions for each annual assignments cycle, and coordinates with other bureaus, including A and MED, to resolve assignment-related issues encountered by employees with children with special needs. 

b. The International/Domestic Support Division of GTM’s Executive Office (GTM/EX/IDSD) issues travel authorization orders (TMFOURs) for employees and their eligible family members once MED has approved Class 1 worldwide available or Class 2 post specific medical clearances for them for the onward foreign-area assignment.

3 FAM 3286.5  Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services (CGFS)

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

CGFS’s Post Support Unit (CGFS/PSU) or Post Financial Management Officers (FMOs) certify SNEA claims in accordance with established policy and procedures.    

3 FAM 3287  SNEA IMPLEMENTATION POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAGM/Commerce/ Foreign Service Corp-USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees Only)

3 FAM 3287.1  SNEA and the Medical Clearance Process

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

MED/CFP establishes the policies and procedures for obtaining medical clearances for children with special needs and determining and certifying SNEA-eligibility (see 16 FAM 426 which is in development).

3 FAM 3287.2  SNEA and the Assignments Process

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

See paragraph 6 of 19 STATE 70056.

3 FAM 3287.3  SNEA Reimbursements

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

a. SNEA may be reimbursed to an employee only after MED/CFP provides an authorization cable with details on reimbursable expenses for that individual child. An employee with a child with special needs requiring additional educational and related services may be granted SNEA for that child in lieu of the school-at-post, home study/private instruction, or school-away-from-post rate. Expenses incurred in support of a child’s education must be supported by the child’s ILP or equivalent maintained by MED/CFP, and must be services normally provided free of charge in U.S. public schools. Employees must obtain approval from MED/CFP before incurring expenses related to their child’s special education needs, including the use of educational consultants as addressed in 3 FAM 3288.1(6), although expenses for the current school year may be reimbursed retroactively when appropriate if the application was submitted in a timely fashion.

b. MED/CFP provides the SNEA authorization cable and pre-approval documentation to the employee and Financial or Management Officer at the employee’s post of assignment. The employee is responsible for submitting the documentation with his/her SNEA claims.

3 FAM 3288  FINANCIAL ISSUES

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAGM/Commerce/ Foreign Service Corp-USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service Employees Only)

3 FAM 3288.1  Expenses Covered by SNEA

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

SNEA may only cover expenses for special educational services that are ordinarily provided free of charge by U.S. public schools.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of items that SNEA covers when validated and authorized by the Bureau of Medical Services.

(1)  Expenses itemized in DSSR 277 based on selected method of education.

(2)  Services validated in a child’s ILP or equivalent, including (but not limited to) speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy services, including when delivered outside of the school setting and outside normal school hours, if they are ordinarily provided without cost in U.S. public schools.

(3)  Rental of equipment (e.g., amplification and auditory devices, and augmentative communication devices) necessary for services required by the ILP (or equivalent) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), or based on the recommendation of a licensed speech and language pathologist when not reasonably available at the school, if they would normally be provided without charge by a U.S. public school.

(4)  Purchase of software may be authorized when the item is necessary for required course work and has no application beyond that course. 

(5)  Private individual tutoring in conjunction with attendance at the at-post school may be authorized only when a service is educationally required, not available at the school attended within school hours, and would normally be provided free of charge in a U.S. public school.

(6)  Educational consultants if an employee with a child with special educational needs (i.e., who fits the criteria described in DSSR 271m) is preparing for a foreign assignment, MED has determined the child has special educational needs, and MED pre-authorized the use of educational consultants.  Educational consultants can provide information to assist parents in researching educational options, but the Office of Medical Clearances has the sole authority to make medical clearance determinations and MED/CFP must validate that a school can provide the services provided for in the child’s ILP before it will recommend approval of the school from a medical clearance perspective. SNEA may reimburse up to $7,500 per assignment. The employee may request reimbursement only after beginning his or her assignment for which he or she received pre-authorization for an educational consultant; therefore, if the employee is ultimately not assigned or does not arrive to a foreign post, he or she will not be eligible for reimbursement. Educational consultants are only for the purpose of identifying possible schools or Extended School Year (ESY) programs and not for the purpose of creating ILPs.

(7)  ILP-required or recommended ESY services.  Students found eligible for ESY services may be authorized to receive reimbursement via SNEA for services provided in non-educational settings, provided those settings can be shown to offer the services specified in the ILP and would ordinarily be provided by U.S. public schools without charge.  The Department recognizes that there may be unusual situations at foreign posts where ESY services/adequate ESY services, as outlined in and required by the ILP, are only available at locations outside of a school in which some of the activities are recreational as well as special educational.  To be eligible for SNEA reimbursement, such programs must be approved by MED in advance, be clearly and primarily special educational in nature, and the invoice must provide a detailed itemized billing which separates special education services from recreation costs.  Recreational costs remain a personal expense.  Only non-recreational charges related to services specified in the ILP that would normally be provided free of charge by U.S. public schools may be reimbursed. 

      Subject to the limitations discussed in (6), the costs of an educational consultant to locate appropriate ESY services are eligible to be covered under SNEA.

(8)  In-school instructional aides (instructional assistant, aide, para-educator, paraprofessional, teacher’s aide) when specified in the ILP and approved by MED/CFP.  In very specific circumstances, MED/CFP may authorize the services of an instructional aide hired directly by the parent/employee if the school agrees with the arrangement and MED/CFP determines both the school and the instructional aide are qualified to provide the services identified in the ILP.  The employee/parent is responsible for complying with all applicable local laws and will be responsible for any unauthorized expenses incurred.  In these cases, employees may only claim reimbursement for the cost of services provided by the instructional aide within the school setting during normal school hours.  Parents should closely consult with MED/CFP in these circumstances, as schools that are unable to provide an appropriate instructional aide may not meet other requirements of the child’s special educational needs.     

(9)  Educational diagnostic testing as required by a school or medical/education authority is allowed.  Medical treatment costs, including psychiatric and psychological treatment for the child's condition are not to be included in such grants.  However, education-based psychological and counseling services performed by properly trained, qualified personnel such as a psychologist, licensed clinical counselor, licensed clinical social worker, and school psychologist may be authorized for students with disabilities when such services are related to the child’s disability; are specified in the ILP; and would normally be provided without charge by a U.S. public school.

(10) Travel of a family member (see DSSR 040m) to accompany a child between the foreign post and the school or to accompany the child to required diagnostic testing from the post to the most reasonable point where the testing can be performed. Return travel may be included within the allowance when deemed necessary by the authorizing officer.  Travel from a foreign post may also be authorized for an interview prior to enrollment when such interview is required for the child's admittance into the school and is pre-authorized by MED/CFP.  Travel for the interview purpose is restricted to one round trip while the parent is assigned to a foreign post. 

3 FAM 3288.2  Expenses Not Covered by SNEA

(CT:PER-968;   12-18-2019)
(Uniform State/USAID/USAGM/Commerce/Foreign Service Corp/USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service & Civil Service Employees)

SNEA may only cover expenses for early intervention and special educational services that are ordinarily provided free of charge by state Programs for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities and U.S. public schools.  Following is a non-exhaustive list of items that are not covered by SNEA.

(1)  Physical construction or structural modifications like ramps for wheel chairs or purchase of classroom alterations.

(2)  Recreational activities, even therapeutic recreational activities, excepting recreational activities that are provided incidentally to covered activities, such as modified Physical Education (PE) in school.

(3)  Purchase of any equipment that has broader use than for the required educational services, such as computer hardware.

(4)  Travel for exploratory or familiarization purposes, i.e., travel to assess special educational programs and resources.

3 FAM 3289  UNASSIGNED  

 

UNCLASSIFIED (U)