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The Heartspring School is a private, not-for-profit, residential and day school, serving students ages five to 21 impacted by autism and other developmental disabilities from across the country and around the world. Most Heartspring students also display challenging behaviors that often interfere with their educational progress, as well as their home life and community integration.

Students the Heartspring School Serves:

  • Boys and girls ages five through 21
  • Students impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, cognitive impairments or multiple disabilities
  • Students with severe, challenging, aggressive or self-injurious behavior (often exceeding the resources available in the student’s local community)
  • Mild to moderate medical conditions such as seizure disorder, diabetes, food/environmental allergies, gastro-intestinal conditions, etc.
  • Students who may not be able to communicate verbally, requiring Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)devices, or communication books, etc.

Students the Heartspring School Does Not Serve:

  • Students who lack a clear Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis or lack an intellectual disability
  • Students whose primary diagnosis is a psychiatric condition such as schizophrenia, conduct disorder, personality disorder, or bipolar disorder (without a co-occurring diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder)
  • Students with extreme behaviors of self-harm such as cutting, or suicidal or homicidal ideations
  • Students who have used weapons towards others or have a history of fire-setting
  • Students who may be planful in their behavior towards others or who violently and specifically target peers
  • Students with sexually deviant or sexually aggressive behavior
  • Medically fragile students who require ventilators, tracheostomies, or who are unable to independently navigate their environment, etc.


Heartspring is licensed by the Kansas State Department of Education, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment and the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP).

Certification / Accreditation

Heartspring is certified/accredited by various state departments/agencies to serve students from multiple states, in addition to international students. This includes, but is not limited to, the California Department of Education, the California Adoption Assistance Program, the Illinois State Board of Education, Washington State Department of Education, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Hawaii Department of Education. For a complete list or to inquire about a state not listed, please contact the Admissions Department.

The Admissions Process

How does the referral process work?

If interested in further exploring Heartspring as a possible school option for a child, we suggest starting a dialogue with the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team to discuss if this might be an appropriate and viable option. A residential school can meet students’ needs 24 hours a day, across all environments in a consistent, systematic and structured way. Heartspring’s residential program provides a comprehensive treatment approach that includes behavioral/psychological care, education, medical care and residential living to focus on decreasing aggressive and self-injurious behaviors, and increasing the child’s ability to achieve educational outcomes. If the IEP team agrees that this is needed, often the next step is to have an IEP meeting to change the placement on the IEP to a residential school setting.

In order for a child to be considered for enrollment at the Heartspring School, we require the following:


    STEP 1. — Referral documents required for the Admissions Review Team to determine appropriateness:

    Referral documents required for the Admissions Review Team to determine appropriateness:

    • Educational Documents
      • Current IEP
      • Any other related services evaluations: such as a speech eval, OT eval, etc.

    • Psychological/Behavioral Information
      • Psychological evaluation, including full developmental history and IQ testing
      • Behavior plan(s)
      • Behavior data
      • Functional Behavioral Assessment/Analysis – if one has been done

    • Medical Information
      • Preferably the Heartspring Health Assessment Form
      • Parent/guardian can fill out a “Medical Release of Information” and we can request medical records be sent directly to us
      • (OR) Another physical may be acceptable
      • Medication information
      • Additional records for any applicable specialists

    • Other
      • Heartspring Student Information Sheet
      • Proof of guardianship for a child over the age of 18. Proof of custodial parent, if parents are divorced.
      • Short video clips (one to three minutes in length) may be required. Situations to consider are:
        • Academic work (classroom setting, speech or OT therapy session, working on classroom tasks at home, etc.)
        • Child at home during mealtime, sample of self-care skills like brushing teeth, child completing a chore
        • Interaction between child and a peer or the child and an adult
        • Inappropriate/aggressive behaviors
        • If video clips are not available, we may request a Skype session.

    STEP 2. — Admissions Review Team reviews records and determines acceptance/denial within five working days. If additional information and records are needed before a decision can be made, the Admissions Department will facilitate this with the parents/guardians and/or referring school or agency. Students must have a diagnosis of autism or a developmental delay/intellectual disability.

    • Please note, requests for additional information (including a possible site visit by a Heartspring Admissions Review Team Member) will be made if one or more of the following criteria are present:
      • Absence of a diagnosis of autism
      • Absence of a diagnosis of a developmental delay/intellectual disability
      • Evidence of intentional, premeditated aggressive behavior
      • Reports of sexually aggressive behavior
      • Records indicating psychiatric diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, personality disorder, etc.
      • Extremely dangerous behavior toward self or others with the use of weapon(s) or fire
      • Suicidal, homicidal ideations
      • Student having two or more placements in the past 24 months
      • Severity of medical needs including diabetes, allergies, TBI or physical handicap
      • Unmediated sensory impairment, such as deafness or blindness
      • Student who received an autism diagnosis late in life or the diagnosis is not clearly agreed upon

    • We are unable to accept students with the following diagnoses, or combinations of diagnoses, or presenting issues:
      • Primary diagnosis of conduct or oppositional disorder(s), especially combined with low average/average IQ scores, or above
      • Unstable or life threatening medical diagnoses or the need to provide 1:1 medical staff to assure safety, such as students with tracheostomies, ventilators, heart arrhythmias, C-Pap machines, or any other complex airway/breathing difficulties
      • Students with a history of sexual aggression or predatory behavior towards others
      • Students with a history of drug or alcohol use

    STEP 3. — Formal acceptance letter (or denial letter) emailed and postal mailed to the parents/guardians and or referring school or agency.

    STEP 4. —Explore the possibility of a TOUR with parents/guardians and/or referring school or agency representative.

    STEP 5. — An ENROLLMENT date will be offered, once funding is confirmed. Once an enrollment date has been offered, that date will be held for up to two weeks.

    • If added to the waiting list, it’s important to stay in regular contact with the Admissions Department.
    • Enrollments are determined based on available openings in the classroom and residential setting, as well as the best available fit.

    STEP 6. — Once Enrollment is confirmed, the Admissions Department will send parents:

    • Admissions Checklist
    • Parent Handbook & Enrollment Paperwork
    • Packing List & Inventory List
    • Psychology Behavior Rating Scales

    STEP 7. — An Intake-Student Support Plan meeting is scheduled. (This meeting is held at least two weeks prior to enrollment day. Parents/guardians, the referring school/agency, and anyone else who knows the student well, should participate via conference call. This is approximately two hours long. This meeting is what helps guide the creation and implementation of a behavior plan, what we call a Student Support Plan.)

    STEP 8. — Funding/Contract is secured and is in place for private pay, and/or school/agency funded students.

    STEP 9. — Enrollment Day (Sample itinerary below):

    • 8:30/9:00 a.m. - Student arrives - goes to classroom
    • 9:30 a.m. - Parents meet with Psychology - discuss/approve Student Support Plan (behavior plan)
    • 10:30 a.m. - Parents meet with Medical - discuss medical needs, medications, sign some paperwork, etc.
    • 11:30 a.m. - Parents meet with Director of Admissions – orientation & finalize all paperwork
    • 12:30 p.m. - Parents begin setting up the student’s bedroom in the group home and begin unpacking
    • 3:00 p.m. - Parents attend a Team Meeting to discuss student’s first day
    • 3:45 p.m. - Parents spend time with student in the group home after school, continue unpacking, etc.
    • 5:00 p.m. - Parents leave group home at dinner time – say "good-bye”

How is the Heartspring School tuition paid?

Heartspring is a school with a residential program and, therefore, charges tuition and fees. The majority of the students who attend Heartspring are placed through the students’ IEP teams and funded by their local school district. Very few students qualify for funding through insurance providers. However, on a case-by-case basis, this may be possible. Some students have multiple agencies involved in the placement and in the funding (such as a school district, a child welfare agency, adoption subsidy, etc.). For some families, paying privately and/or outside financing may be an option. For some families, paying privately and/or outside financing may be an option. To learn more about outside financing, visit, or you may conduct an online search for education loans for private K-12 schools. For more information on paying privately, enrollment options and other funding questions please contact the Admissions Team.

Special Education Resources for Parents

To further explore your child’s educational rights, you can visit one or more of the following websites for additional information and resources. These links are not specific to residential school placements; rather, they can provide you with information about special education in general. In addition, you may want to visit your state’s Department of Education website to find specific regulations that may apply.

Heartspring is not affiliated with, nor makes any guarantee or endorsement, for these companies/organizations.

It was a very welcoming and positive experience. I felt that the teacher and staff had things prepared for [my son], his room was already unpacked, and the home coordinators really cared about my other kids. Very positive and warm.

—Heartspring School Parent/Guardian

Kristina Baker

Director of Admissions

Ben French

Admissions Coordinator


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