Districts are encouraged to apply for a grant to establish therapeutic classrooms for learners ages 3 to 21 whose emotional, social or behavioral needs interfere with their ability to be successful in their current educational environment. Applications are due June 29.
This is the third round of grants being administered by the Iowa Department of Education. Last year, the Department awarded $2.3 million to 10 school districts to establish therapeutic classrooms.
The Department has legislative authority to distribute up to $2,351,382 in therapeutic classroom grant awards for the 2023-24 school year.
"We know our schools work hard every day to meet the needs of students,” said Kimberly Buryanek, division administrator of learning and results at the Iowa Department of Education. “The Therapeutic Classroom Incentive Grant is an important resource and opportunity for districts to strengthen the continuum of educational and behavioral supports for learners."
The superintendent of one district that received the grant last year said it has enabled their middle school to strengthen its Multi-tiered System of Supports for behavioral health and well-being to identify and support students.
"The Therapeutic Learning Grant (TLG) has afforded the Bettendorf Middle School community to develop a personalized continuum of supports to foster success across the school day,” said Michelle Morse, superintendent of the Bettendorf Community School District. “The students’ plans are all individualized and include intensive teaching about their brain, how it works and regulation strategies. This continuum of services for individualized students are designed to help promote active participation in school, feel connected to school, assist in developing regulation skills and build positive relationships for academic success."
Pertaining to a therapeutic classroom, the word “classroom” is a descriptor of an educational set of services that may include – but is not required to include – a separate physical setting from other students.
A school district is not required to operate a therapeutic classroom. However, a school district is required to ensure therapeutic services are available, whether in-district or otherwise, to students who need those services to access or benefit from an education.
The therapeutic classroom grants were established through state legislation signed into law in 2020 and are part of a statewide effort to increase mental health supports for children, youth and families.
Directions for submitting an application can be found on the Department of Education's Therapeutic Classroom webpage. The grant application package includes a Worksheet with detailed directions on submitting an application and uploading resources. The application process includes a self-assessment of therapeutic classroom components and the district’s proposal for establishing therapeutic classrooms during the upcoming school year.