Using the McKay scholarship is one of the best ways to access private education for children with special needs. The McKay is a great option because it is based on a students IEP created by the school and is not reliant on a medical diagnosis. As parents getting enough money from McKay is key to the success of using an alternative school. In our situation, just McKay money would not cover the cost of full tuition. Once you get the McKay, you are locked in and can use it year after year. You only lose the money if you reenter public school or choose a different scholarship option.
So, the key question most parents want to know: how much money will my student get?
This answer is not available and I have found that most people won’t even tell you how much they are getting and what their matrix score was. It seems strange to me that the public cannot find out the dollar amount. Most providers are able to get information regarding scores and typical payouts and can be helpful if you are able to have open conversation.
I have been working on book edits for my story Ruthfulness; during one of those edits I found a copy of the McKay Matrix! So, here it is. I’m posting it in hopes that it can help provide a reference point to advocate for your child and this scholarship. If you are not aware, the new Florida governor DeSantis has passed legislation to end the wait list on the Gardiner Scholarship. A medical diagnosis is needed for this scholarship but it guarantees a minimum of $10,000. If you have a medical diagnosis, it is worth the application time to have another option if not satisfied with your McKay award amount.
The matrix has five domains: curriculum and learning environment, social/emotional behavior, independent functioning, health care, and communication. Each domain gets a score from 1 to 5. Then each of the domains is added to give you the domain ratings. You check the special considerations for additional points and use the cost factor scale to find your matrix score (251-255). NOTE: I file I found does not have a date of creation or expire. There could be changes to the matrix that I am unaware of and this information is for you to use to further your research regarding advocating for your child.
Use the link below to get the matrix scales for domains A and B. Use your IEP to review your curriculum and learning environment and social/emotional behavior accommodations. Look for similar wording in your IEP compared to the matrix. When not sure if you are the higher or lower number, go with the lower number.
The next two domains are C and D on independent functioning and health care. In comparison to domain A and B, these two domains could be harder for children with autism to score. There is such a spectrum of needs and beliefs. For example, the health care domain references medicine or medication in increasing severity through the levels. Also, if a parent does not document or include on the IEP the need for special doctors and the frequency of communication with doctors that would lower your domain level. Download the mckay matrix_CD
The final domain is E on communication. I would assume if your child was nonverbal you would score a 5 on this domain. However, all the grading or marking/making of the matrix is not very open or available. I have requested to see my sons matrix and have been rejected every time. Download the Mckay matrix E.
In the Mckay matrix E file you will find the special considerations section. This is where you can pick up more points. Then take your points from each section to get your total of ratings and determine your cost factor. This cost factor is the number (251-255) used to determine how much money you will get for your special needs child.
Side note: 504 students can also get a cost factor and score for McKay. I wasn’t always sure on this in the past but it is a document you can use to help your student; especially if you have struggled to get your student evaluated for an IEP within the school.
Visit the Florida Department of Education for lots more reading on the McKay Scholarship. Hopefully, as parents we can read, learn and continue to advocate for a better education and therapy network for our children. We have found an excellent environment for our son with autism. My hope is that everyone have an equal opportunity to find that same place for their child and if the McKay scholarship can help that’s great.