Passage of The Improving the America's Schools Act (IASA) of 1994 required that the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program funds be merged with IDEA (Parts B and H). IASA added a "hold harmless" provision to ensure that in Fiscal Years 1995-98 no State receives fewer Part H funds than the aggregated Part H and Chapter 1 funds it received to serve children with disabilities aged birth through 2 in FY 1994.
In FY 1995, Congress appropriated $360,265,000 for the Preschool Grants Program, which serves all eligible children with disabilities ages 3-5. This is a 6.2 percent increase over the $339,257,000 appropriated in FY 1994. During the 1994-95 school year, 524,458 preschoolers were served, an increase of 6.7 percent. This represents 4.4 percent of the total population of 3- through 5-year-olds. However, the percentages of preschoolers served varied widely, from a high of 8.9 percent in Kentucky to a low of 1.4 percent in the District of Columbia.
Access to the Preschool Grants Program depends on an adequate supply of personnel to meet the needs of preschoolers with disabilities. This chapter reported on the number of FTE special education teachers employed and needed to serve preschoolers with disabilities. During 1993-94, the total number of teachers employed rose to 22,975.
OSEP is continuing to work with States to develop placement categories that are specific to preschoolers, because the school-based placement categories in which the data are currently reported may not adequately reflect the types of service delivery models used to meet the needs of preschoolers with disabilities. Using the current categories, which were supplemented with special instructions, States reported that almost half (48 percent) of all preschoolers with disabilities were served in regular classrooms. An additional 40 percent were served in regular school buildings in either resource rooms (9 percent) or separate classes (31 percent).
States continue to look for ways to improve the implementation of the Preschool Grants Program. For example, States are using a variety of funding sources to finance preschool special education services. Also, many States have provisions which allow flexibility in using Part H and Section 619 funds during transition to preschool and use of Section 619 funds when making the transition from preschool to either kindergarten or first grade. In addition, some States are taking advantage of an IDEA provision that allows them to use either IEPs or IFSPs to specify needed preschool services. Finally, OSEP continues to support a number of projects that are designed to promote innovative strategies for the delivery of services to young children with disabilities and their families.
To support the implementation of the Part H program, Congress appropriated $315,632,000 for FY 1995, 24.7 percent more than the $253,152,000 appropriated for FY 1994. The number of infants and toddlers reported served through the Part H program increased for the second year in a row. It is likely that this increase represents the expansion of child find and public awareness efforts and that service delivery agencies have become more visible to families. Also, the data systems have become more accurate. Seven States served between 2 percent and 6.7 percent of their total birth through age 2 population. However, 13 States served less than 1 percent, and the remaining States served between 1 and 2 percent of their total birth through age 2 population.
The majority (95 percent) of infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families continue to receive most of their services at home (47 percent), in early intervention classrooms (31 percent), or in outpatient service facilities (17 percent). In these and other settings, a wide variety of services are being provided. The five most commonly used services are special instruction, family training counseling and home visits, speech and language pathology, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Although data are collected on the number of personnel employed and needed to serve infants and toddlers with disabilities, these data, as in past years, remain incomplete. However, it appears that the three largest categories of personnel employed to serve infants and toddlers were special educators, paraprofessionals, and speech and language pathologists.
States are engaged in efforts to improve the capacity of their statewide systems to deliver early intervention services. For example, to enhance Part H infrastructures, 41 States have set up ICCs at the local level to address a broad range of issues. Many States are exploring ways to increase the number of qualified personnel to work with infants and toddlers and their families. States' solutions have involved collaborative efforts with institutions of higher learning, credentialing boards,personnel who provide early intervention, and parents.
Finally, innovative projects continue to be supported by OSEP. The priorities for these projects focus on the development of more effective practices, region-specific or population-specific programs, preservice and inservice training, and the identification of new recruiting strategies into particular fields of study. During FY 1995, EEPCD supported 125 projects: 41 demonstration projects, 47 outreach projects, 27 inservice training projects, 4 research institutes, 5 statewide data systems projects, and 1 national technical assistance center.