President Biden's Proposed 2024 Budget Continues to Prioritize Special Education
Today President Biden's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024 was released. The Administration continues to prioritize special education programs, including Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B grants to states, Part B preschool grants, Part C infants and toddlers grants, and Part D Personnel Preparation grants. “Every child with a disability should have access to the high-quality early intervention, special education services, and personnel needed to thrive in school and graduate ready for college or a career. CEC and its members are glad to see continued support for special education in President Biden’s budget proposal,” says CEC Executive Director Chad Rummel.
Specifically, the proposal increases IDEA Part B grants to states by more than $2 billion, putting the chronically underfunded program on a glidepath to full funding. It provides $400 million in new funding for Part C grants which support early intervention services for infants, toddlers, and their families. Part B preschool grants are also increased by more than $80 million. Furthermore, the Budget addresses educator shortages through increased investment in a series of programs that bolster the educator pipeline and ensure educator quality, including more than doubling funding for IDEA Part D Personnel Preparation. Recognizing the impact of these programs, the Biden Administration notes, “Every child with a disability should have access to the high-quality early intervention, special education services, and personnel needed to thrive in school and graduate ready for college or a career.”
The Budget provides an additional $2.1 billion over fiscal year 2023 enacted levels for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B grants to states and preschool programs to support special education and 7 related services, with a total request of $16.8 billion. The Budget also provides $932 million for IDEA Part C grants, which support early intervention services for infants and families with disabilities that have a proven record of improving academic and developmental outcomes—a nearly $400 million increase over the fiscal year 2023 enacted level.
While the education sector has faced shortages in critical staffing areas for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic and tight labor market have made shortages worse, further exacerbating the already disproportionate impact on students in underserved communities. The Budget invests $3 billion in educators and school leaders, including $798 million—an additional $342 million on top of current funding levels—in competitive programs that support a diverse and well-prepared pipeline of educators and strengthen teacher retention.
“The investment in educator recruitment and retention is critical to providing infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents access to qualified educators,” notes Rummel.
The increased funding would support States in implementing critical reforms to expand their enrollment of underserved children, including children of color, children from low-income backgrounds, and children living in rural areas. The IDEA Part C increase also includes $200 million to expand and streamline enrollment of children at risk of developing disabilities, which would help mitigate the need for more extensive services later in childhood and further expand access to the program for underserved children.
The Budget also invests more than $300 million in IDEA Part D grants to train and retrain special educators at a time when the majority of states are experiencing a shortage of special educators. In addition, the Department of Education will launch the first national comprehensive study of special education expenditures in over two decades, which will examine how funds support the education of students with disabilities. Lastly, the Budget invests an additional $20 million in IDEA Part D grants to help military-connected children with disabilities and other highly mobile children with disabilities maintain services when they change school districts.
School-based mental health continues to be a pressing challenge for students and educators alike, and remains a top priority for CEC and its members. Congress passed a significant infusion of funds through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in 2022, and the Budget continues to advocate for additional funding ($428 million for Fiscal Year 2024) to support school-based mental health professionals to ensure that student mental health needs can be supported.
While the Biden Administration continues to propose landmark increases to IDEA programs, it falls short in two CEC priority areas: the Javits Gifted and Talented Education grant program and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER). The former is the only dedicated funding stream for students with gifts and talents, including twice exceptional students, and the grant prioritizes funding to underserved students including students with disabilities, minoritized students, and students living in poverty. NCSER is a dedicated research funding stream within the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences that supports research in special education. While both programs could benefit from significant increased investment, the Budget proposes continuing funding at current levels for these programs. Below is a comparative chart:
|Program||FY 2022||FY 2023||
President's Budget Proposal FY 2024
|IDEA Part B grants to states||$13.3 billion||$14.2 billion||$16.3 billion|
|IDEA Preschool grants||$410 million||$420 million||$503 million|
|IDEA Part C||$496 million||$540 million||$932 million|
|IDEA Part D personnel prep||$95 million||$115 million||$250 million|
|Javits gifted and talented||$14.5 million||$16.5 million||$16.5 million|
|National Center for Special Education Research||$60 million||$64.3 million||$64.3 million|
|School-based mental health services||$111 million||$1 billion*||$428 million|
|Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence program||$8 million||$15 million||$30 million|
|Teacher Quality Partnerships Program||$59 million||$70 million||$132 million|
*School-Based Mental Health Services. — The School Based Health Professionals and the Mental Health Services Professional Demonstration Grant programs saw $1 billion through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. That funding will sustain new grantees over a 5 year period.