A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

To Assure the Free Appropriate Public Education of all Children with Disabilities - 1995

Implementation of the Preschool Grants Program

Since FY 1992, in order to be eligible for a Preschool Grant, States must make FAPE available to all 3- through 5-year-old children with disabilities. As shown in table 2.7, 10 States and jurisdictions provide FAPE from birth. Virginia does so at age 2. All other States begin at age 3. The table also shows the school year in which States assured FAPE for all children with disabilities 3 years of age. About half the States had mandates in place prior to FY 1992.

TABLE 2.7 Age at which Children Are Eligible for FAPE,
and the Legislative Year in which States and Outlying Areas Assured FAPE
                                                     Age at which                             Year FAPE                Children Are                                Was                   Eligible for State                        Assured                    FAPE
------------------------------------------------------------------ Alabama                      1991-92                      3 Alaska                       1974-75                      3 Arizona                      1991-92                      3 Arkansas                     1991-92                      3 California                   1991-92                      3 Colorado                     1991-92                      3 Connecticut                  1991-92                      3 Delaware                     1991-92                      3 District of Columbia         1983-84                      3 Florida                      1991-92                      3  Georgia                      1991-92                      3 Hawaii                       1980-81                      3 Idaho                        1989-90                      3 Illinois                     1973-74                      3 Indiana                      1991-92                      3 Iowa                         1975-76                    Birth Kansas                       1991-92                      3 Kentucky                     1991-92                      3 Louisiana                    1977-78                      3 Maine                        1991-92                      3 Maryland                     1978-79                    Birth Massachusetts                1976-77                      3 Michigan                     1973-74                    Birth Minnesota                    1986-87                    Birth Mississippi                  1991-92                      3 Missouri                     1991-92                      3 Montana                      1990-91                      3 Nebraska                     1977-78                    Birth Nevada                       1990-91                      3 New Hampshire                1977-78                      3 New Jersey                   1983-84                      3 New Mexico                   1991-92                      3 New York                     1991-92                      3 North Carolina               1991-92                      3 North Dakota                 1985-86                      3 Ohio                         1991-92                      3 Oklahoma                     1991-92                      3 Oregon                       1992-93                      3 Pennsylvania                 1991-92                      3 Rhode Island                 1976-77                      3 South Carolina               1991-92                      3 South Dakota                 1976-77                      3 Tennessee                    1991-92                      3 Texas                        1974-75                      3 Utah                         1988-89                      3 Vermont                      1991-92                      3 Virginia                     1975-76                      3 Virgin Islands               1981-82                      3 Washington                   1985-86                      3 West Virginia                1991-92                      3 Wisconsin                    1973-74                      3 Wyoming                      1990-91                      3 American Samoa               1977-78                    Birth Federated States of              Micronesia                 1992-93                    Birth Guam                         1981-82                    Birth Marshall Islands             1992-93                      3 Palau                        1989-90                    Birth Puerto Rico                  1985-86                    Birth Northern Marianas            1990-91                      3 
Note: The Bureau of Indian Affairs is not included in this table.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

States are awarded Preschool Grants Program funds based on the number of 3- through 5-year-old children with disabilities receiving special education and related services on December 1 of the previous year. Congress appropriated $339,257,000 in FY 1994 for the Preschool Grants Program, 4.1 percent more than the $324,773,000 appropriated in FY 1993.

The children with disabilities age 3 through 5 are also counted to generate funds under Section 611 of Part B. However, States are not obligated to use their Part B funds for the preschool population and, in fact, many States do not use their Part B funds for services to preschoolers. The preschool grants under Section 619 are the only funds that States are required to use to provide FAPE to children with disabilities age 3 through 5. Because the per child Part B award was $413, each State received approximately $1,122(the $709 Preschool Grants Program amount plus the Part B amount) under IDEA for every child age 3 through 5 with a disability receiving special education and related services on December 1, 1993. State-by-State grant awards for FY 1994 are shown in table AG1 in Appendix A.

State-reported Data on the Preschool Grants Program

Three types of data are collected from States and Outlying Areas about the Preschool Grants Program. These data include the count of children with disabilities age 3 through 5 being served, the teachers employed and needed to serve preschoolers with disabilities,4 and the environments in which services are provided.

Number of Preschoolers with Disabilities Served

In December 1993, States and jurisdictions reported they were providing special education and related services to 493,425 children with disabilities age 3 through 5 under the Preschool Grants Program and Chapter 1 (SOP).5 This was an increase of 37,896 (8.3 percent) over the number served in 1992-93, and represents 4.2 percent of the total population of 3- through 5-year-olds, as compared to 4.03 percent in 1992-93. As seen in table AA13 in Appendix A, the percentage of the total preschool population served varied across States and jurisdictions, from a low of 1.29 percent in the District of Columbia to a high of 8.16 percent in Kentucky. Thirty-four States or jurisdictions provided special education services to between 3 to 5 percent of their age 3 through 5 resident population.

Five-year-olds constituted 46 percent of the preschoolers receiving special education and related services under the Preschool Grants Program and Chapter 1 (SOP). Four-year-olds constituted 34 percent, and 3-year-olds 20 percent, of the preschoolers served by those programs in 1993-94. These proportions are consistent with trends reported in previous years.

Teachers Employed and Needed to Serve Preschoolers with Disabilities

Access to FAPE depends on an adequate supply of teachers to meet the needs of preschool children age 3 through 5 with disabilities. Each year, States and Outlying Areas report to OSEP the number of teachers employed to provide special education and related services to preschoolers age 3 through 5 with disabilities (see table 2.8). They also report the number of additional teachers needed due to staff vacancies and instances when positions are filled by teachers who are not fully certified or trained for their position. Data are not collected for the number of regular education teachers working with preschoolers with disabilities who are served in regular education settings.

During the 1992-93 school year nearly 19,000 FTE special education teachers were employed to serve students age 3 through 5 with disabilities, 8.0 percent more than in the 1991-92 school year (see table 2.8). The rate of increase in the number of FTE special education teachers was somewhat less than the rate of increase in the number of preschoolers with disabilities over the same time period (the number of preschoolers with disabilities increased by 8.4 percent between 1991-92 and 1992-93). States reported that an additional 2,209 FTE teachers were needed in the 1992-93 school year, 3 percent less than the number needed in 1991-92.

TABLE 2.8 Number of Special Education Teachers Employed and Needed to Serve Children with Disabilities Age 3-5: School Year 1992-93
                                     All Disabilities                           FTE Employed              FTE Neededa/
---------------------------------------------------------------- Alabama                        249                       44 Alaska                          72                        1 Arizona                        225                        9 Arkansas                        90                       11 California                   1,843                       59 Colorado                       205                        5 Connecticut                    352                        6 Delaware                        86                        6 District of Columbia            53                       12 Florida                      1,080                      101 Georgia                        498                       33 Hawaii                          95                        1 Idaho                          127                       41 Illinois                       716                       12 Indiana                        389                       31 Iowa                           389                       37 Kansas                         256                        5 Kentucky                       253                       20 Louisiana                      603                      275 Maine                          162                       14 Maryland                       311                        3 Massachusetts                  428                        0   Michigan                       934                       46 Minnesota                      636                      130 Mississippi                    208                       18 Missouri                       411                       96 Montana                         42                       28 Nebraska                       101                        1 Nevada                          95                       10 New Hampshire                   88                        7 New Jersey                     901                       10 New Mexico                     154                        3 New York                       948                      307 North Carolina                 694                      206 North Dakota                   114                       10 Ohio                           821                       89 Oklahoma                       156                       12 Oregon                         359                       32 Pennsylvania                   509                        4 Puerto Rico                    108                        0 Rhode Island                    72                        0 South Carolina                 200                       44 South Dakota                   142                        3 Tennessee                      316                        5 Texas                            .                      202 Utah                           101                       30 Vermont                        105                        0 Virginia                     1,024                      130 Washington                     303                       13 West Virginia                  174                        3 Wisconsin                      713                       34 Wyoming                         49                        2 American Samoa                  15                        1 Guam                             5                        4 Northern Marianas                5                        3 Palau                            .                        . Virgin Islands                  12                        1 Bureau of Indian Affairs         .                        . -------------------------------------------------------------- U.S. and Outlying Areas     18,997                    2,209 50 States, D.C., and P.R.   18,960                    2,200 
a/These figures include:(1) the number of unfilled vacancies in funded positions that occurred during the 1992-93 school year (12 months), and (2) the number of additional personnel that were needed during the 1992-93 school year (12 months) to fill positions occupied by persons who were not fully certified or licensed. These figures include additional personnel needed by public and private agencies.

Note: The total FTE for the U.S. and Outlying Areas and the 50 States, D.C., and Puerto Rico may not equal the sum of the individual States and Outlying Areas because of rounding.

Note: Please see data notes for an explanation of individual State differences.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS).

Educational Placements of Preschoolers with Disabilities

States have been reporting data to OSEP for a number of years on the settings where preschoolers with disabilities receive special education and related services. States reported that over 90 percent of 3-through 5-year-olds with disabilities were served in regular school buildings in 1992-93. Preschoolers with disabilities were placed in separate schools 7.7 percent of the time. The remainder were served either in residential facilities or in home or hospital environments. However, the validity and reliability of these data have come into question because the categories used on the reporting form are the same for children age 3 through 5 and children 6 through 21. The categories used to report data for children age 6 through 21 have limited relevance to preschool settings and may make the placements appear more restrictive than they actually are.

Implementation Issues

Providing programs to children with disabilities age 3 through 5 remains challenging. The following section presents some of the current developments and emerging issues related to providing special education and related services to preschool children.

Administering and Funding the Preschool Grants Program

The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System (NEC*TAS) annually produces and disseminates a national profile of the implementation of the Preschool Grants Program (Heekin and Tollerton, 1994). This profile provides an overview of how States are implementing the program. The 1994 Profile presents information from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and seven Outlying Areas. However, not all respondents answered every question on this edition's questionnaire. The following information summarizes some of the key questions and responses from the 619 Profile.

In 43 of the 57 States or jurisdictions responding to a query concerning responsibility for administration, the Preschool Grants Program is administered by the SEA's special education unit. Seven administer the program within the SEA's early childhood unit but not within special education (Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia). Six split responsibility for the program between special education and another unit, such as early childhood (Florida, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota and Rhode Island). New Hampshire is unique in that special education teams are integrated into all units.

The Section 619 Profile provides information on how States use Preschool Grants Program funds. For example, according to the statute, States have options open to them for 25 percent of Preschool Grants Program funding. Five percent of Preschool Grants Program funding may be set aside for administration. Of the 53 States and jurisdictions reporting on how they use the set-aside, 43 use the full 5 percent for administration. Two use 4 percent, four use between 2 and 3 percent, and four use none. Administrative funds are typically used to provide State-level direction and leadership for preschool special education funding in States.

States and jurisdictions may set aside an additional 20 percent of Preschool Grants Program funding for State-level discretionary use. Allowable activities include planning and developing a statewide comprehensive service delivery system for children with disabilities from birth through age 5; providing direct and support services for children with disabilities age 3 through 5; and, at the State's discretion, providing FAPE to 2-year-old children with disabilities who will reach age 3 during the school year. In the 1994 Profile, 54 States and jurisdictions reported how these discretionary funds are used. Most of the SEAs (30) use the full 20 percent discretionary set-aside. Eight SEAs use between 15 and 19 percent; 4 use 10 to 14 percent; 4 use between 1 and 9 percent; and 7 use none. Discretionary funds are reported to be used most often for training and technical assistance. Consistent with previous years, other common uses include pilot programs, materials, planning/coordination, and direct services.

States and jurisdictions included in the NEC*TAS profile reported using 18 different funding sources in addition to Section 611 and Preschool Grants Program funds to finance preschool special education services. This year, States and jurisdictions reported much greater utilization of Federal Head Start funds. All 60 States and jurisdictions reported using Federal Head Start funds, and 15 reported using State Head Start funds. This is a vast increase over last year, when only 24 reported using Federal Head Start funds. Other common funding sources include State special education funds (41 States), Chapter 1 (SOP) funds (41 States), Medicaid (34 States), and Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) funds (33 States). Twenty-nine States or jurisdictions reported that they contribute financially to collaborative activities with other early childhood initiatives within the jurisdiction -- for example, collaboration with public awareness efforts.

Coordinating Part H and Preschool Programs

States and jurisdictions use a number of mechanisms to improve service delivery system coordination among programs that serve children with disabilities from birth through age 5. According to NEC*TAS, the Part H Interagency Coordination Council (ICC) works to improve coordination in 15 of the 57 States and jurisdictions that responded to this item. States and jurisdictions are required to include an SEA representative on the ICC. The representatives from the SEA most often included are the special education director or section chief for special education (23 jurisdictions) and the early childhood/special education coordinator (22 jurisdictions). SEA representatives also are involved in a variety of Part H ICC task forces, including those on personnel preparation (24 jurisdictions), transition (24 jurisdictions), and child find/public awareness activities (18 jurisdictions). Thirty-one States or jurisdictions reported that public awareness efforts are directed toward the entire birth through age 5 population.

Of the 50 States or jurisdictions responding to a query about the use of IFSPs instead of IEPs beyond age two, 23 are using or are considering using IFSPs for preschool services. Oregon and Maine use IFSPs on a statewide basis for all preschool services. Fifteen States or jurisdictions allow local discretion in IFSP use. Six are collecting data for future decision making.

Interagency Coordination

SEA representatives also continue to focus on interagency collaboration strategies to help coordinate services within their States. Fifty-one States and jurisdictions responded to queries concerning collaborative activities such as interagency agreements, joint training, and planning and coordination. Interagency agreements occur most often with Head Start agencies (43 jurisdictions). Thirty-eight States or jurisdictions reported that an SEA representative is involved in the planning and coordination for Even Start programs. Thirty-six of 49 States or jurisdictions responding reported that an SEA representative is involved in planning and coordination of Child Care Developmental Block Grant activities, and 31 offer special considerations for children with disabilities in Child Care Developmental Block Grants activities. Twenty-seven offer joint training activities with the Child Care Developmental Block Grant program. Many States and jurisdictions also report collaboration in child find, public awareness, and/or training activities among such State agencies as Head Start, Developmental Disabilities, Health, Human/Social Services, and Health and Human Services.

Interagency agreements with Head Start continue to strengthen. Since the 1993 adoption of performance standards for services to children with disabilities in the Head Start program, 20 States and SEAs have revised or are in the process of revising their Head Start agreements. Some of the elements included in these revised agreements center on issues such as who is responsible for child identification, referral, assessment, evaluation, and placement; services and other fiscal responsibilities; FAPE and procedural safeguards; and information and data sharing. In addition, many Head Start activities have shifted focus. One element included in some SEA Head Start agreements is guidelines for LEA agreements. The results of the 1994 619 Profile indicate that in 13 States, LEAs and/or intermediate educational units (IEUs) have entered into agreements with local Head Start programs. The guidelines written at the State level may have been a contributing factor.


Transition from early intervention Part H programs to preschool programs continues to be an area of concern in some States. Many technical assistance activities have focused on the issue of transition. The statutory language is flexible on this issue, and State representatives have found that to be helpful for developing workable systems. In some States, successful systems have been developed. Of 47 States and jurisdictions responding to this NEC*TAS survey item, 22 have developed or are developing policies allowing Preschool Grants Program funds to be used for children transitioning into Part B programs before their third birthday. Twenty-two SEAs use their Preschool Grants Program discretionary funds for projects related to the transition of preschoolers into kindergarten or first grade. Twenty-two have developed or are developing agreements for transitions from preschool to kindergarten/first grade. Fifteen SEAs use those funds for transition from Head Start into public school.

Providing Preschool Services in Inclusive Environments

Providing special education services in inclusive settings has become an important national issue for children with disabilities of all ages. Implementing strategies that support inclusion for school-age children has been challenging. Doing so for children with disabilities age 3 through 5 is even more challenging for a number of reasons. The biggest barrier to providing services in inclusive settings is that most LEAs do not provide preschool programs for preschoolers without disabilities. Thus, it is difficult to place children with disabilities in settings that enable them to interact with peers who do not have disabilities while at the same time receiving the special education and related services required to meet their unique needs.

When addressing inclusion issues for preschool children with disabilities, States and jurisdictions have focused on strengthening traditional alliances with such programs as Head Start and creating new alliances with the child care and private nursery school organizations, as well as community-based programs. More recently SEAs have begun to develop a more inclusive approach to programming. The NEC*TAS profile reports that 30 SEAs have promoted inclusion, and 8 States have a preschool-specific inclusion statement (Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, and Rhode Island). Thirteen States report that other State agencies also have a philosophy promoting inclusion.

Some SEAs have chosen to implement accreditation standards for preschool programs. Eleven SEAs report that they apply the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation program or self-study project to LEA preschool programs. Nine use those standards for community-based preschools. Nine also reported that they have developed or are developing their own preschool accreditation or self-study process.

4 There is no separate report of these personnel serving preschool students with disabilities. State report numbers of personnel other than teachers providing related services to preschoolers combined with the data for such personnel serving school-age children. A discussion of the number of personnel other than teachers providing services for the 3-21 population of students with disabilities was provided in Chapter 1.

5 The Chapter 1 (SOP) program was not reauthorized under the Improving America's Schools Act that reauthorized ESEA. Beginning July 1, 1995, funding for services to all eligible children and youth age 3 through 21 will be provided under IDEA, Part B.

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