Max Rady College of Medicine

Concept: Special Needs Children - Method of Identification from Education Data

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Concept Description

Last Updated: 2014-05-21


    This concept briefly discusses the Special Needs data available in the Education database at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP). It provides a description of guidelines and criteria used by Manitoba Education to identify children with special needs who are eligible for Special Needs funding. Records for every child for whom the school applied for Special Needs funding are included in the Education database.

Special Needs in Manitoba Education

    The umbrella title "Special Needs" may refer to numerous disorders affecting an individual's ability to learn and/or function appropriately in school, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, hearing or vision impairment, and emotional/behavioural disorder. According to Manitoba Education (2011), the number of students (in full-time equivalents) who received Special Needs Funding (Levels II and III) has increased from 4,642 in 2003/2004 to an estimated 6,273 in 2007/2008.


    The following describes the background, data sources, and codes used to identify special needs children, and the research where these methods have been used.


    A student may be granted provincial special needs funding if he/she demonstrates a need for extensive educational support (Manitoba Education, 2011). There are two levels of Special Needs Categorical Funding (Level II and III) available for students, as well as additional support, EBD Level 3 and the Unified Referral and Intake System (URIS), available for students with emotional/behavioural disorder and those with greater medical needs, respectively. Schools with special needs children apply to the Funding Review Team of Manitoba Education to receive Special Categorical Funding Level II or III. For more information, please see the information on the Manitoba Education Student Services - Special Needs Categorical Funding Criteria - Level 2 and 3 web page (Manitoba Education, 2011).

    Manitoba Education provides Annotated Descriptors for each of these conditions as criteria for funding. In general, a medical diagnosis, the level of severity of the condition, the student's ability to learn in certain formats and his/her need for support or adaptations in the classroom must be disclosed in the student's profile in order to be eligible for funding (Manitoba Education, 2011).

    Level II Funding

    Level III Funding

    For more information on Multi-system Submission for Students with Profound Emotional/Behavioural Disorders and Unified Referral and Intake System (URIS) Group A Healthcare Procedures, see specific sections within the Special Needs Categorical Funding Criteria - Level 2 and 3 web page.

Data Sources

    Children with special needs are identified by the variables, CATEGORYN and STATUSN, in the Manitoba Education Special Needs data file, one of several files available from the Enrollment, Marks and Assessment (STS/ICAB) data. CATEGORYN specifies children receiving special (categorical) funding for special needs. STATUSN indicates whether the funding (identified in CATEGORYN ) was approved, denied, non-supported, or terminated. Only individuals with an "approved status" are included in the selection process.


    The following codes will identify the student's condition within the CATEGORYN variable:

    • ASD = Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • EBD = Emotional Behaviour Disorder
    • HOH = Hard Of Hearing
    • MH = Multiple Handicaps
    • OTH = Other Special Needs
    • PSY = Psychotic
    • VI = Visually Impaired

    The following codes are used within the STATUSN variable to identify the status of special needs funding:

    • A = Approved
    • D = Denied
    • N = Non-Supportable (Federally Funded Students)
    • T = Terminated

MCHP deliverables

    Brownell et al. (2008) used CATEGORYN and STATUSN variables to determine number of students approved for level II or III special needs funding. The findings were used to estimate the prevalence of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emotional Behaviour Disorder, vision/hearing disability, multiple handicaps, and other disabilities in Manitoba.


  • CATEGORYN and STATUSN will only capture students eligible for extra support based on having a particular disability with a specified severity; it will not capture all children with disabilities, such as those with milder forms of a disability.
  • Changes over time in the number of students receiving funding for a particular disorder may be more reflective of changes in funding practices than changes in the prevalence of the disorder itself.

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  • Brownell M, De Coster C, Penfold R, Derksen S, Au W, Schultz J, Dahl M. Manitoba Child Health Atlas Update. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2008. [Report] [Summary] [Additional Materials] (View)

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Manitoba Centre for Health Policy
Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine,
Rady Faculty of Health Sciences,
Room 408-727 McDermot Ave.
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3E 3P5 Canada