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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    House Document No. 14
    PUBLICATION YEAR 2015
    View PDF Version*

    Document Title
    The Use of Federal, State, and Local Funds for Private Educational Placements of Students with Disabilities - Year Two (HJR 196, 2014)

    Author
    Virginia Commission on Youth

    Enabling Authority
    HJR 196 (Regular Session, 2014)

    Executive Summary
    During the 2014 General Assembly Session, Delegate Les R. Adams introduced House Joint Resolution 196, directing the Commission on Youth to:

    i. examine the use of Comprehensive Services Act for At-Risk Youth and Families (CSA) and Medicaid funds for private day and private residential special education placements;

    ii. gather local and statewide data on the extent to which youth are placed in settings that are segregated from nondisabled students;

    iii. determine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of more integrated alternatives to provide special education services to students including, but not limited to, those students with intellectual and developmental disabilities currently in segregated settings in the Commonwealth; and

    iv. consider any other matters as it deems appropriate to meet the objectives of this study.

    The legislation required the Commission on Youth to complete its meetings for the first year by November 30, 2014, and the second year by November 30, 2015. The Chairman shall submit to the Division of Legislative Automated Systems an executive summary of its findings and recommendations no later than the first day of the next Regular Session of the General Assembly for each year. A copy of the legislation is included as Appendix A.

    During the first year of the study, an update on the study activities and identified issues were reported at the Commission’s December 2, 2014 meeting. An update on the study activities and draft recommendations for the second year of the study was reported at the Commission’s September 8 and October 20 meetings. At the October 20 meeting, the Commission on Youth approved the following recommendations:

    THERE ARE CHALLENGES WITH USING CHILDREN SERVICES ACT (CSA) WRAP-AROUND SERVICES TO MAINTAIN THE LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT (LRE). (*1)

    Recommendations

    Request the State Executive Council (SEC) revisit existing policy restrictions and budgetary constraints with CSA state pool funds for wrap around services for students with disabilities. This review will include whether the community match rate could be utilized, existing parental co-payment policies for additional services not included in the individualized education program (IEP), and the prohibition on using funds for non-educational services provided by school employees, and make recommendations to improve both utilization and access to these funds to the Commission on Youth by the 2017 General Assembly Session.

    VIRGINIA’S EXISTING SPECIAL EDUCATION STATE FUNDING STRUCTURE DOES NOT ADEQUATELY MEET THE NEEDS AND INCREASING NUMBERS OF HARD-TO-SERVE, SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS.

    Recommendations

    1. Request the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) include in its analysis of regional special education programs other states’ funding formulas and policies identified during the course of their study that may be employed in the Commonwealth. VDOE shall also determine the efficacy of Virginia’s regional special education programs and assess whether provisions are needed to revise these programs and if these programs should be expanded to other regions of the Commonwealth. VDOE shall report findings and recommendations to the Commission on Youth prior to the 2016 General Assembly Session.

    THE UTILIZATION AND COSTS OF PRIVATE PLACEMENTS FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS IN VIRGINIA HAVE INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY.

    Recommendations

    1. Introduce a budget amendment for VDOE to convene an interagency workgroup to assess the barriers to serving students with disabilities in their local public schools. The workgroup shall assess existing policies and funding formulas including school division’s program requirements, localities’ composite indices, local CSA match rate allocations, local CSA rate setting practices, the impact of caps on support positions, policies for transitioning students back to the public school, and funding for local educational programming based on models which are collaborative and create savings for both local and state government while providing youth an educational option within their communities. Membership shall include a balance of local and state representative, all impacted state agencies, local education agency (LEA) representatives, local CSA representatives, local government officials, local special education administrators, stakeholder organizations, parent representatives, the Arc of Virginia, the Coalition for Students with Disabilities, and members of the Virginia General Assembly. The workgroup shall make recommendations to the Virginia Commission on Youth prior to the 2017 General Assembly Session.

    2. Request the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) collaborate with VDOE and include a track in their annual conference on best practices and effective strategies for serving children with disabilities in the least restrictive environments and increase knowledge and understanding on working with students with disabilities, and their parents, as well as improving coordination between schools and CSA.

    3. Request the OCS include in its annual training plan strategies best practices and effective strategies for serving children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment and increase knowledge and understanding on working with students with disabilities, and their parents, as well as improving coordination between schools and CSA.

    VIRGINIA’S REGIONAL SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS ALLOW SELECT SCHOOL DIVISIONS TO SERVE STUDENTS IN AN ADDITIONAL OPTION IN THE CONTINUUM OF PLACEMENTS BUT THE EXISTING STRUCTURE NEEDS TO BE RE-EVALUATED.

    The Recommendation adopted for the Finding – Virginia’s existing special education state funding structure does not adequately meet the needs and increasing numbers of hard-to-serve, special education students – addressed the issues set forth in this Finding.

    THERE IS NO AVAILABLE DATA ABOUT THE EFFECTIVENESS OF CSA-FUNDED PRIVATE DAY AND RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS.

    Recommendations

    1. Request VDOE work with private providers including the Virginia Association of Independent Specialized Education Facilities, the Virginia Council for Private Education, the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Virginia Coalition of Private Provider Associations, the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards, local school divisions, stakeholder groups, and parent representatives to identify and define outcome measures to assess students’ progress such as assessment scores, attendance, graduation rates, transition statistics, and return to the students’ home schools.

    2. Request VDOE establish a procedure requiring all assessment scores for private day students tagged as ‘Special Situation’ be included in the student’s “home” school scores.

    3. Request OCS to report annually on Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment tool and CANVaS (the online version of CANS) scores that measure educational outcomes by service placement name and type for all students being served in CSA-funded educational placements.

    VIRGINIA’S PARENT CONSENT PROVISIONS EXCEED FEDERAL REGULATIONS AND MAY HINDER SERVING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT.

    Recommendations

    1. Request VDOE include in the development of the statewide model IEP, an ongoing planning process that facilitates returning students with disabilities served in private placements to the public school setting. The IEP will establish an ongoing process that should commence when a student with a disability is first placed in a private day or residential school. This process should involve the parents, home school officials, CSA officials, the child’s teachers, and other involved stakeholders. VDOE shall also include in its guidance to schools best practices for transitioning students from private residential and private day schools such as employing gradual transition strategies and utilization of available community-based programs. VDOE will investigate the feasibility of incorporating in the statewide model IEP Medicaid billing for services provided to eligible IEP students.
    ___________________________________________
    (*1) The 2015 General Assembly enacted legislation (SB 850, Favola) to change the name of the Virginia Comprehensive Services Act for At-Risk Youth and Families to the Children’s Services Act (CSA) to better reflect the goals of CSA.