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 - 1996

Program for Children and Youth with Serious Emotional Disturbance

Division of Innovation and Development
Office of Special Education Programs

I. Context for the Agenda Process

In 1990, Congress authorized a new program for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance (SED) under Part C (Section 627) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA also mandated a participatory planning process, involving multiple stakeholders in the development of program goals, objectives, strategies, and priorities for all programs administered by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), including the new program for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance. Since 1990, OSEP's Division of Innovation and Development (DID) has sponsored numerous meetings and discussions, including teleconferences and focus groups, to implement this planning process and to develop, evaluate, and disseminate a national agenda for achieving better results for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance.

II. Components of the National Agenda

Mission and Vision

The Mission is: Achieving better results for students with serious emotional disturbance. The Vision is: A reorientation and national preparedness to foster the emotional development and adjustment of children and youth with or at risk of developing serious emotional disturbance, as the critical foundation for realizing their potential at school, work, and in the community.

Program Targets

  1. Expand Positive Learning Opportunities and Results. To foster the provision of engaging, useful and positive learning opportunities. These opportunities should be result-driven and should acknowledge as well as respond to the experiences and needs of children and youth with serious emotional disturbance.

  2. Strengthen School and Community Capacity. To foster initiatives that strengthen the capacity of schools and communities to serve students with serious emotional disturbance in the least restrictive environments appropriate.

  3. Identify and Address Diverse Needs. To encourage culturally and linguistically appropriate exchanges and collaborations among families, professionals, students, and communities. These collaborations should foster positive results for all students and result in the identification and provision of services that are responsive to issues of race, culture, gender, and social and economic status.

  4. Collaborate with Families. To foster collaborations that fully include family members on the team of service providers that implements family focused services to improve educational results. Services should be open, helpful, culturally competent, accessible to families, and school- as well as community-based.

  5. Promote Appropriate Assessment. To promote practices ensuring that assessment is integral to the identification, design, and delivery of services for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance. These practices should be culturally appropriate, ethical, and functional.

  6. Provide Ongoing Skill Development and Support. To foster the enhancement of knowledge, understanding, and sensitivity among all who work with children and youth with and at risk of developing serious emotional disturbance. Support and development should be ongoing and aim at strengthening the capacity of families, teachers, service providers, and other stakeholders to collaborate, persevere, and improve results for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance.

  7. Create Comprehensive and Collaborative Systems. To promote systems change resulting in the development of coherent services built around the individual needs of children and youth with and at risk of developing serious emotional disturbance. These services should be family-centered, community-based, and appropriately funded.

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