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

Other OSEP Programs and Projects Benefitting Young Children with Disabilities

OSEP continues to support a number of projects designed to promote innovative strategies for the delivery of services to young children with disabilities and their families. Priorities include development of more effective practices, development of region-specific or population-specific program models, enhancing training for existing personnel, preservice training and identification of strategies to recruit individuals into relevant fields of study.

The Early Education Program for Children with Disabilities

The Early Education Program for Children with Disabilities (EEPCD), originally named the Handicapped Children's Early Education Program (HCEEP), has been operating for the past 26 years. Its original mission was to establish model demonstration projects for the delivery of special education and related services to young children with disabilities from birth through age 8. It has evolved as State and local early intervention systems have matured. EEPCD presently supports States in two ways: first, development of comprehensive services for infants and toddlers with disabilities from birth through age 2 and their families; and second, expansion of services for children with disabilities age 3 through 8 and their families. During FY 1994, EEPCD supported 116 projects: 34 demonstration projects, 45 outreach projects, 21 in-service training projects, 4 experimental projects, 6 research institutes, 5 statewide data systems projects and 1 national technical assistance center.

Demonstration Projects

EEPCD's demonstration projects address a variety of topics. They include the following:

Outreach Projects

Outreach projects have two goals: to increase the availability of high-quality services to young children with disabilities and to promote replication of innovative models or components of models that were developed under the demonstration or inservice components of EEPCD or have been developed with other funding. All of the 45 projects receiving outreach funding have a multi-State or national focus and are funded for three years. Outreach efforts focus on improving training and services, as well as on interagency and inter-State collaboration. Allare required to coordinate their dissemination and replication activities with the State lead agencies under Part H and/or the Preschool Grants Program.

Inservice Training Projects

Projects in this priority area develop and evaluate inservice training models that will prepare professionals and paraprofessionals to provide, coordinate, or enhance early intervention, special education, and related services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and/or for preschool children with disabilities. Inservice training projects are funded for 3 years. During FY 1994, eight new projects were funded.

Experimental Projects

Non-directed experimental projects provide a comparative analysis among educational practices and intervention procedures related to early childhood services. During FY 1994, four projects addressed language instruction, intervention in inclusive versus segregated settings, bilingual/bicultural training for preschoolers who are deaf, and paraprofessional training systems.

Research Institutes

Six research institutes are supported. These institutes investigate:

Statewide Data Systems Projects

Statewide data systems projects expand States' capabilities for tracking and linking services for children with disabilities and those at-risk for disabilities. During FY 1994, five projects were funded.

NEC*TAS (National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System)

OSEP also supports NEC*TAS, which brings together individuals and organizations representing a range of disciplines and parental perspectives to address the infant, toddler, and preschool provisions of IDEA. A central organizational function is providing technical assistance to States' Part H and Preschool Grants Program grantees, as well as the projects funded under EEPCD. Main areas of technical assistance for the Part H system include service coordination, finance, State and local interagency issues, procedural safeguards, personnel, data collection, monitoring, child identification and public awareness, and State technical assistance systems. Main areas of technical assistance for the Preschool Grants Program community include program standards and monitoring, LRE and inclusion, personnel, finance, interagency agreements, child identification, interpreting legislation, transition, and public awareness.

Personnel Preparation

Personnel preparation is another component of the OSEP mission. During FY 1994, the Division of Personnel Preparation (DPP) funded 20 new projects and 95 continuation projects addressing personnel needs in early intervention and preschool services. Projects focus on preparing personnel to serve infants, toddlers, and preschoolers; leadership personnel projects; special projects; projects to prepare related services personnel; and projects to serve special populations, rural populations, and low-incidence populations.

Research Projects

The Department has sponsored several studies of specific issues related to the Part H program. Two of these studies, "The Feasibility of Determining the Cost of Providing Early Intervention Services," and its companion study "The Use of Family Payment Systems in the Part H Program," are discussed in this section. These studies were conducted by Pelavin Associates.

In the feasibility study, applications from 18 States that had fully implemented the Part H program requirements were reviewed during FY 1991 and FY 1992, and 5 States were selected to participate. The five States were chosen because of their differing geographic locations, the population characteristics they represented, and the range of service provision models they had developed. The main purpose of the study was to collect information on the feasibility of determining the costs of providing early intervention services. The specific research questions addressed are listed below.

  1. To what extent do State Part H grant applications describe the availability of data on the costs of early intervention services?

  2. What information is available about children being served and the services being provided to them and their families?

  3. What data are collected on the expenditures on early intervention services?

  4. Where, how, and how often are the data collected and stored?

  5. What data are available on the costs of administering the statewide system?

  6. Are any data available that would permit projections of costs of early intervention services?

  7. How comparable are the data across States and in what ways are the data not comparable?

Because of the small sample size and the nature of the questions asked, the analysis for this study was mainly qualitative.

The researchers found that data available from individual State records were insufficient to analyze Part H program costs and caseloads, for two reasons. One, some of the information collected by local providers was maintained at the local level and not available to State agencies. Two, the elements listed above in the specific research questions that were essential components to this evaluation were not contained in full in any one set of State records. In addition, each State had developed a unique system to comply with the Federal reporting requirements. Therefore, aggregate information from all 5 States was not obtained for any of the seven research questions.

Although counts of children served were available in all five States, the time periods covered, and the count accuracy, varied. The researchers received unduplicated counts from four of the five States. Two of those four were unduplicated counts of all children served during the year. The other two States provided unduplicated December 1 counts. In the fifth State, the researchers received only duplicated counts. The varying time periods and count accuracy are additional reasons why the data from these States could not be aggregated.

The findings described below were derived from the data.

The companion study entitled "The Use of Family Payment Systems in the Part H Program" collected information about the decision to either implement or not implement fee payments and sliding fee scales in selected States. Twenty-three States were surveyed. Nine of the 10 States that had family payment systems, and the 13 States that did not, responded. The study addressed the three questions below.

  1. Why have some States chosen to implement family payment systems, whereas others have not?

  2. How do family payment systems contribute to the provision of early intervention services?

  3. What are the common characteristics of these service systems and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

All quantifiable responses were tabulated and frequencies developed, as appropriate. Open-ended qualitative responses were reviewed and analyzed to identify the key dimensions of the response to the relevant study question.

The Part H statute provides that "`early intervention services' must be provided at no cost except where Federal or State law provides for a system of payments by families, including a schedule of sliding fees" [20 U. S. C. 1472(2)(B)]. However, States may not charge parents for (1) child find; (2) evaluation and assessment; (3) service coordination; (4) administrative and coordinating activities related to the development, review, and evaluations of IFSPs; and (5) implementation of procedural safeguards. Additionally, if the State guarantees the provision of FAPE, then the State may not charge parents for any services that are provided as part of a FAPE.

Distinct viewpoints emerged between States that chose to implement family payment systems and those who chose not to charge families for services. Of the nine States with family payment systems, five had such systems in place before the Part H program began. The other four States have instituted them since 1991. Three administrative structures were used by the nine States to manage the payment systems--locally controlled, State-controlled, and jointly (local and State) controlled family payment systems. In eight of the States, the method of determining fees varied by locality. In most of the States, the calculations of ability to pay also differed by locality.

Six States reported that they generated revenue from family payment systems. However, only two States were able to estimate the amount of revenue generated. The study reported that the inability to estimate revenues was probably related to local level control of family payment services. The study also reported that service providers bear the costs of administration in most States.

States that use family payment systems reported that they do so not only to generate revenue, but for other reasons. For example, a common feeling among proponents of family payment systems was that "families that can pay should pay."

Of the 13 States surveyed that do not have family payment systems for early intervention services, two stated that they had not considered them because they were aware of the poor experiences of other States that had implemented such programs. The other 11 States actively considered adopting family payment systems at one time or another. Informal discussions in the lead agency or State ICC were the most common method used to arrive at the decision not to use a family payment system. Three States conducted a cost-benefit analysis and found that they would lose money by adopting payment scales. Eleven States provided responses describing deterrents that led them to decide not to adopt a family payment system. In nine States, administrative costs and other administrative difficulties were reported as the main reasons for not adopting payment systems. In six States, barriers created by fees and potential reduction in services were reported as key factors in the decision.

In five States, a philosophical opposition to family payment systems was given as the main reason for not using them. These States reported that some families would refuse to seek services if they were charged any fees, even if the fees were based on sliding scales. Also cited as reasons for not charging families were the fact that historically, private nonprofit organizations have not charged families for early intervention services, and the State agencies belief that FAPE should be extended to children with disabilities from birth to age 2.

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