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

Implementation of the Preschool Grants Program

Since FY 1992, in order to be eligible for Preschool Grants Program funds States and Outlying Areas must make FAPE available to all 3- through 5-year-old children with disabilities. As shown in table 2.1, 10 States and Outlying Areas provide FAPE from birth, while Virginia does so at age 2. All other States and Outlying Areas begin to assure FAPE at age 3. The table also shows the school year in which States and Outlying Areas assured FAPE for all children with disabilities. About half the States and Outlying Areas had mandates in place prior to FY 1992.


TABLE 2.1 Age at which Children Are Eligible for FAPE, and the Legislative Year in which States and Outlying Areas Assured FAPE
                            Age at                                Age at                           which                                 which                          Children                              Children              Year FAPE      Are                    Year FAPE     Are                 Was     Eligible for                  Was      Eligible State         Assured      FAPE       State         Assured    for FAPE -----         -------      ----       -----         -------    -------- Alabama       1991-92        3       New Jersey     1983-84       3 Alaska        1974-75        3       New Mexico     1991-92       3 Arizona       1991-92        3       New York       1991-92       3 Arkansas      1991-92        3       North Carolina 1991-92       3 California    1991-92        3       North Dakota   1985-86       3 Colorado      1991-92        3       Ohio           1991-92       3 Connecticut   1991-92        3       Oklahoma       1991-92       3 Delaware      1991-92        3       Oregon         1992-93       3 District                             Pennsylvania   1991-92       3 of Columbia   1983-84        3       Rhode Island   1976-77       3 Florida       1991-92        3       South Carolina 1991-92       3 Georgia       1991-92        3       South Dakota   1976-77       3 Hawaii        1980-81        3       Tennessee      1991-92       3   Idaho         1989-90        3       Texas          1974-75       3     Illinois      1973-74        3       Utah           1988-89       3 Indiana       1991-92        3       Vermont        1991-92       3 Iowa          1975-76      Birth     Virginia       1975-76       2 Kansas        1991-92        3       Virgin Islands 1981-82       3 Kentucky      1991-92        3       Washington     1985-86       3 Louisiana     1977-78        3       West Virginia  1991-92       3  Maine         1991-92        3       Wisconsin      1973-74       3 Maryland      1978-79      Birth     Wyoming        1990-91       3 Massachusetts 1976-77        3       American Samoa 1977-78     Birth   Michigan      1973-74      Birth     Federated States    Minnesota     1986-87      Birth     of Micronesia  1992-93     Birth   Mississippi   1991-92        3       Guam           1981-82     Birth Missouri      1991-92        3       Marshall Islands 1992-93     3 Montana       1990-91        3       Palau          1989-90     Birth Nebraska      1977-78      Birth     Puerto Rico    1985-86     Birth Nevada        1990-91        3       Northern Mariana  New Hampshire 1977-78        3       Islands        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 and Outlying Areas 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 $360,265,000 in FY 1995 for the Preschool Grants Program, 6.2 percent more than the $339,257,000 appropriated in FY 1994. However, the number of children served grew from 491,685 in FY 1994 to 524,458 during FY 1995, an increase of 32,773 or 6.7 percent. The FY 1994 figure includes 16,246 children with disabilities who previously were served under the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program. Thus, in spite of the 6.2 percent increase in funding, the actual amount per child in FY 1995 dropped by $26 (a 3.7 percent decrease) per child from $709 to $683. States and Outlying Areas are not required to use their Part B State Grant funds generated under Section 611 for the preschool population and, in fact, many States and Outlying Areas do not. Section 619 of Part B is the only Federal grant program that requires States and Outlying Areas to provide FAPE to children with disabilities ages 3-5. Grant awards made to each State in FY 1995 are shown in table AG1 in Appendix A (not included in this version).

State-reported Data on the Preschool Grants Program

The next three sections describe the three types of data collected from States and Outlying Areas about the Preschool Grants Program. These data include the: (1) number of children with disabilities ages 3-5 who are served; (2) number of teachers serving preschoolers with disabilities;2 and (3) settings in which services are provided.

Number of Preschoolers with Disabilities Served

Based on the December 1, 1994, child count, the number of children ages 3-5 served under Section 619, IDEA, Part B was 524,458. This was 32,773 (6.7 percent) more than the number served on December 1, 1993, and represents 4.4 percent of the total population of 3- through 5- year-olds, as compared to 4.2 percent on December 1, 1993. As seen in table AA10 in Appendix A (not included in this version), the percentage of the total preschool population served varied across States and Outlying Areas, from a low of 1.4 percent in the District of Columbia to a high of 8.9 percent in Kentucky.3 Thirty-two States and Outlying Areas provided special education services to 3 to 5 percent of their ages 3-5 resident population. This distribution is similar to the distribution based on the December 1, 1993 count.

Five-year-olds constituted 45.8 percent of the preschoolers receiving special education and related services under IDEA, Part B. Four-year-olds constituted 34.3 percent, and 3-year-olds constituted 19.9 percent, of the preschoolers served in 1994-95. In 1990-91, 5-year-olds constituted 49.8 percent, 4-years-olds 28.1 percent, and 3-year-olds 14.8 percent of the total number of 3- through 5-year-olds served. The 5-year trends show that the greatest increase was for 3-year-olds (78.7 percent), followed by a 62.4 percent increase for 4-year-olds, and 22 percent for 5-year-olds.

Teachers Serving Preschoolers with Disabilities

Access to FAPE depends on an adequate supply of teachers to meet the needs of preschool children ages 3-5 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 ages 3-5 with disabilities (see table 2.2). 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. In the past, teachers who are not fully certified or trained have been reported under both the categories of employed and needed (employed-not fully certified and vacant positions). Data are not collected for the number of regular education teachers working with preschoolers with disabilities who are served in regular education settings. Data reports used for the 1993-94 school year were changed so that OSEP could capture information that would permit 5-year projections of personnel demand, as required by the 1990 IDEA amendments. (For a complete discussion of the changes and the model selected to project personnel demand, see Appendix G.)


Table 2.2 Total Number of Teachers Employed and Vacant Funded Positions (In Full-Time Equivalency) to Provide Special Education and Related Services for Children and Youth with Disabilities, Ages 3-5, During the 1993-94 School Year
                        FTE Employed                  Fully      Not Fully     Vacant     Total  State          Certified    Certified    Positions  Positions -----          ---------    ---------    ---------  --------- Alabama           248          53           45         346 Alaska             70           6            1          77 Arizona           200          58            5         263 Arkansas           82          97           26         205 California      1,599         117            6       1,722 Colorado          196           7            2         205 Connecticut         .           .            .           .  Delaware          124          18            4         145 District of Columbia        61           4            4          69 Florida         1,290          58           24       1,372 Georgia           594          11            9         614 Hawaii            205          23            1         229 Idaho             143           2           12         157 Illinois          698          32           17         746 Indiana           367          35            4         406 Iowa              395          31            2         428 Kansas            271           .            6         277 Kentucky          326          38           15         379 Louisiana         389         321            9         718 Maine             192           8            2         201 Maryland          368          37            7         411 Massachusetts     446           .            4         450 Michigan        1,130          40            2       1,172   Minnesota         592          80            4         676 Mississippi       201          21           18         240 Missouri          321          57            4         382 Montana            95           4            4         103 Nebraska           96           0            2          98 Nevada            129          10            1         140 New Hampshire      97           8            0         105 New Jersey      1,009           0            7       1,016 New Mexico        164          10            5         179 New York          853         105            .         958 North Carolina    611         144           34         789 North Dakota      110          10            4         124 Ohio            1,265           0          108       1,373 Oklahoma          345          22            4         371 Oregon            104           .            4         108 Pennsylvania    1,033           0            2       1,035 Puerto Rico       105           0            0         105 Rhode Island      115           4            0         119 South Carolina    255          19           11         285 South Dakota      149           6            1         156 Tennessee         302          12            0         314 Texas               .           .            .           .  Utah               71          26            4         100 Vermont           110           2            3         115 Virginia        1,428         210           11       1,649 Washington        437          84            9         529 West Virginia     159          34            6         198 Wisconsin         787          83            3         874 Wyoming            59           0            0          59 American Samoa      6           8            0          14 Guam              133           0           20         153 Northern Mariana  Islands             1           0            1           2 Palau               .           .            .           .  Virgin Islands     12           .            1          13 Bureau of Indian Affairs             .           .            .           .  U.S. and  Outlying Areas 20,548       1,954          473      22,975 50 States, D.C.,& P.R.    20,396       1,946          451      22,793 
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS)


During the 1993-94 school year, more than 22,000 FTE4 special education teachers were employed to serve students ages 3-5 with disabilities, 18.5 percent more than in 1992-93.5 The rate of increase in the number of FTE special education teachers was greater than the rate of increase in the number of preschoolers with disabilities over the same time period (the number of preschoolers with disabilities served increased by 6.7 percent between 1992-93 and 1993-94). Of the 22,975 positions funded to serve this population of students, 89.4 percent were filled by fully certified teachers, 8.5 percent by teachers not fully certified (i.e. holding a provisional, temporary, or emergency permit to provide services), and 2.1 percent of the positions were vacant in December 1993. The number of teachers needed (employed-not fully certified and vacant positions) increased 9.9 percent in 1993-94 over the previous year. The number of teachers needed to serve preschool children with disabilities had declined for 3 years prior to 1993-94. Several States attributed these variations to improvements in reporting.

While the revised personnel forms provide more accurate data on personnel shortages by quantifying need in terms of vacancies and personnel employed but not fully certified, the data do not provide information on the quality of the personnel employed to serve the preschool population or on the factors that inhibit the projection of personnel demand. Professionals providing early intervention and special education may have received little training specific to the needs of preschoolers, even though they meet state licensing requirements (Hebbler, 1994). This is particularly true in the area of related services personnel, who receive certification based on the standards of the discipline regardless of the target population. Alternatively, individuals,particularly paraprofessionals, who have experience working with young children, may not meet state licensing requirements.

Hebbler (1994) gives two other factors that may inhibit the projection of personnel demand. First, States may not have funded vacancies. One scenario in which this may occur is the following. Vacancies are measured by the number of funded positions that remain vacant. Since personnel shortages tend to drive the cost of personnel up, States may find themselves using most of their staffing dollars on an increasingly smaller number of personnel. This is particularly true of contracted personnel. The second factor given by Hebbler is that the identification of service needs on an IEP or IFSP is often adapted to personnel available. Services may be provided by paraprofessionals, by contracted personnel, or possibly not identified because there is no one to provide the service. Researchers and policymakers should be aware of these two possible data limitations.

The 1993-94 school year was the first time that data were collected on the number of teachers retained from the previous year. States reported that 84.6 percent of fully certified teachers were retained from the previous year; 66.4 percent of the teachers not fully certified were retained from 1992-93.

Educational Placements of Preschoolers with Disabilities

Each year, States and Outlying Areas report to OSEP the number of preschoolers with disabilities served in each of eight educational settings: regular classes, resource rooms, separate classes,separate schools (public and private), residential facilities (public and private), and home/hospital placements. OSEP has been working with States and Outlying Areas to develop placement categories 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. In the interim, OSEP provides specific instructions to States and Outlying Areas for reporting counts of preschoolers in each of the placement categories. Table 2.3 includes a definition of each placement category as it applies to preschoolers with disabilities. In 1993-94, States and Outlying Areas reported 48 percent of preschoolers were served in regular classes, 9 percent in resource rooms, 31 percent in separate classes, 9 percent in separate schools, 0.3 percent in residential facilities, and 2 percent in home/hospital programs.


TABLE 2.3 Educational Environments for Preschoolers with Disabilities

Regular class includes children who receive services in programs designed primarily for nondisabled children, provided the children with disabilities are in a separate room for less than 21 percent of the time receiving services. This may include, but is not limited to, Head Start centers, public or private preschool and child care facilities, preschool classes offered to an age-eligible population by the public school system, kindergarten classes, and classes using co-teaching models (special education and general education staff coordinating activities in a general education setting).

Resource room includes children who receive services in programs designed primarily for nondisabled children, provided the children with disabilities are in a separate program for 21 to 60 percent of the time receiving services. This includes, but is not limited to, Head Start centers, public or private preschools or child care facilities, preschool classes offered to an age-eligible population by the public school system, and kindergarten classes.

Separate class includes children who receive services in a separate program for 61 to 100 percent of the time receiving services. It does not include children who received education programs in public or private separate day or residential facilities.

Separate school includes children who are served in publicly or privately operated programs, set up primarily to serve children with disabilities, that are NOT housed in a facility with programs for children without disabilities. Children must receive special education and related services in the public separate day school for greater than 50 percent of the time receiving services.

Residential facility includes children who are served in publicly or privately operated programs in which children receive care for 24 hours a day. This could include placement in public nursing home care facilities or public or private residential schools.

Homebound/hospital includes children who are served in either a home or hospital setting, including those receiving special education or related services in the home and provided by a professional or paraprofessional who visits the home on a regular basis (e.g., a child development worker or speech services provided in the child's home). It also includes children 3-5 years old receiving special education and related services in a hospital setting on an inpatient or outpatient basis. However, children receiving services in a group program that is housed at a hospital should be reported in the separate school category. For children served in both a home/hospital setting and in a school/community setting, report the child in the placement that comprises the larger percentage of time receiving services.

Source: OSEP Data Dictionary, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education.


Preschool Implementation Issues

How to create a seamless system of services for children with disabilities ages 3-5 in the most cost-effective manner is one of the most challenging issues that the Preschool Grants Program faces. This section reviews that issue by examining States' usage of some of the services provided under the Preschool Grants Program. It is based on information from the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System (NEC*TAS) document entitled Section 619 Profile: Sixth edition (Heekin & Ward-Newton, 1995). The profile draws information about the program from the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and 8 Outlying Areas.

Administering and Funding the Preschool Grants Program

States and Outlying Areas use several methods to administer preschool special education programs. Most States and Outlying Areas, 40 of 52 that responded to this item, administer their programs through the special education unit of the SEA. Among the other 12 States and Outlying Areas, 5 administer it within the early childhood unit but not within special education, and 7 split the responsibility between 2 or more units.

The Section 619 Profile provides information on how States and Outlying Areas use Preschool Grants Program funds (see table 2.4). Under IDEA, States and Outlying Areas have options regarding how they may use up to 25 percent of the Preschool Grants. Five percent of the funding may be set aside for administration of the preschool program. Of the 52 States and Outlying Areas that responded to this item, 44 used the full 5 percent, 5 used between 1 and 3 percent, and 3 used none.

States and Outlying Areas may set aside up to 20 percent of Preschool Grants Program funding for State-level discretionary activities. This highly flexible use of funds allows States to meet individual needs regarding implementation of preschool FAPE. 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 ages 3-5; and, at the State's discretion, providing FAPE to 2-year-old children with disabilities who will reach age 3 during the school year. The Profile shows that the most common uses of the set-aside funds were personnel training, technical assistance, and purchasing materials. Again, 52 States and Outlying Areas responded to this item. Almost half (24) of the SEAs used the full 20 percent. Five SEAs used none of these funds available to them.

In addition to the Preschool Grants Program funds, 18 different sources were used to finance preschool special education services. All 59 States and Outlying Areas used Federal Head Start funds. According to the Profile, the five most commonly used sources after Federal Head Start funds were State special education funds (46 States and Outlying Areas), Medicaid (38 States and Outlying Areas), Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) funds (35 States and Outlying Areas), local funds (35 States and Outlying Areas), and Section 611 (Part B) funds (33 States and Outlying Areas).


TABLE 2.4 State Use of the 20 Percent of Section 619 Discretionary Funds

State Pilot Programs Training Technical Assistance Materials Local ICCs State ICC Planning/ Coordinator Direct Service Central Directory
Alabama x2 x x



x
Alaska
x x x
x
x
Arizona x x x x


x
Arkansas
x x x x
x x
California
x x x


x
Colorado6 x1,3 x x x x
x x
Connecticut6
x x x

x x x
Delaware
x x x

x x x
District of Columbia x1 x x x

x x
Florida
x x x

x

Georgia
x x x

x

Hawaii
x x


x

Idaho x2,3 x x x

x x
Illinois x2 x x x x x x

Indiana x2 x x x

x x x
Iowa7 x2 x5 x x

x
x
Kansas6 x1,2,3,4 x x x x x x

Kentucky x2,3 x x x x x4 x x x
Louisiana x1,2 x x


x x
Maine
x x x x x x x x
Maryland7 x1,2,3 x x x

x x
Massachusetts6 x1,2,3 x x x


x
Michigan Did not respond to survey question
Minnesota x1,3 x x x x x

x
Mississippi Did not respond to survey question
Missouri Did not respond to survey question
Montana Did not respond to survey question
Nebraska
x x x

x x
Nevada x2 x x x

x x x
New Hampshire x x x
x
x

New Jersey x4 x x x




New Mexico x1,2,3,4 x x x




New York x2




x
x
North Carolina x x x
x x x x x
North Dakota x1,2,3 x x x
x


Marshall Islands x2,3





x
Ohio x x x x

x

Oklahoma x2 x x x




Oregon
x






Pennsylvania x2 x x x x

x
Puerto Rico x1,2 x




x
Rhode Island6
x x x

x x
South Carolina
x






South Dakota x x
x x
x

Tennessee
x x x
x x

Texas
x x x

x x
Utah x x x x x
x x
Vermont
x x x

x
x
Virginia
x x x

x

Washington x1,2 x x x

x x
West Virginia
x x
x



Wisconsin x2,3 x x x x x x x x
Wyoming
x






1 Gather data.

2 Develop/field test model programs.

3 Develop interagency linkages.

4 Other.

5 Some of these funds support the statewide Parent Education Connection Project.

6 Some discretionary funds are used for community program participation in NAEYC accreditation.

7 Some discretionary funds are used for complaint investigations, monitoring, and evaluation.

SOURCE: Section 619 Profile, 6th Edition, NEC*TAS.


Transition: Coordinating Preschool Programs with Other Programs

For many children with disabilities ages 3-5 and their families, there are two sets of transitions that occur in relatively rapid succession. Families with children who are between 2 and a half and 3 years of age are thinking about the transition to preschool, and 2 to 3 years later they are working toward a smooth transition to kindergarten or first grade. SEAs have taken the following steps to create seamless systems that can facilitate these transitions.

IDEA and its regulations have several provisions that promote smooth, effective transitions for children with disabilities and their families. One such provision requires "If the State Educational Agency which is responsible for administering preschool programs under Part B of the Act, is not the lead agency under this part (Part H), an interagency agreement between the two agencies to ensure coordination on transition matters" (CFR §303.148(c)). Another provision grants States and Outlying Areas flexibility in using Part H and Section 619 funds for children above or below age 3 during the transition to preschool. States may also use their discretionary funds to plan and develop a birth through age 5 service delivery system. This is achieved through collaboration with the Part H lead agency and other relevant agencies. According to the Profile, 25 States and Outlying Areas have developed or are developing policies that allow using Section 619 funds for children before their third birthday. Also, 23 States and Outlying Areas have a policy that allows Part H funds to be used past a child's third birthday.

Coordination is also achieved through the Part H Interagency Coordinating Councils (ICCs). Among the many functions and options related to ICCs stated in IDEA, an ICC has the option of concentrating its efforts on the coordination of activities for the birth through age 2 population or birth through age 5 population of children with disabilities and their families. Fourteen of the 52 States and Outlying Areas responding to this item stated that their ICC focuses on the birth through age 5 population. Also, the Part H lead agency is required to have a representative from the SEA on the State ICC.

IDEA also allows States and Outlying Areas the flexibility to develop either an IFSP or an IEP to specify the special education and related services a child needs in order to constitute FAPE. "If FAPE is provided to a child with a disability in the age range of three through five in accordance with an IFSP, rather than an IEP, the Part H requirements for the contents of the IFSP apply, rather than the Part B requirements for the contents of an IEP" (OSEP, 1993, p. 6). Three States and Outlying Areas have developed a statewide policy of using IFSPs for all preschool services, while 19 allow local discretion in using IFSPs for preschool services. Another five States and Outlying Areas are collecting data about using IFSPs or IEPs to specify preschool services. States are interested in using IFSPs to provide FAPE, and continue to pursue development policies to do so.

States and Outlying Areas are also working toward creating a seamless system that facilitates transition from preschool to kindergarten or first grade. To achieve this goal, 22 States and Outlying Areas have developed or are developing agreements for transitions from preschool to kindergarten or from Head Start to kindergarten to first grade.

Interagency Coordination

Interagency coordination enables SEAs to combine the efforts of a variety of agencies to meet the diverse needs of preschool children with disabilities and their families. Interagency coordination helps reduce duplication of efforts and maximizes scarce resources. States and Outlying Areas report interagency agreements with Departments of Developmental Disabilities (15 States and Outlying Areas), Health (24), Human and/or Social Services (26), Health and Human Services (23), Mental Health (12) and other agencies (12). In addition, States and Outlying Areas are involved with initiatives that support comprehensive, coordinated services for young children. For example, the Profile reports that States and Outlying Areas are involved in planning activities with Head Start (38 States and Outlying Areas), general early childhood initiatives (35), at-risk initiatives (23) and Child Care Developmental Block Grant programs (21). Much attention has been paid to interagency collaboration, not only because of national, State, and local fiscal problems, but also to improve service delivery systems and to ensure parental involvement.


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

3 Child count figures discussed in this report include all upward and downward adjustments submitted by the States. Child count figures used by the Department of Education for allocation purposes reflect upward and downward adjustments received prior to making awards on July 1, and subsequent downward adjustments for making reallocations.

4 The number of FTE for the nation excludes data from Connecticut and Texas. Those States were unable to provide counts of the number of special education teachers serving 3- through 5-year-olds.

5 The percentage increase may in part be attributed to the change in the data collection form. The 1933-94 data collection was the first time teachers and related services personnel were reported separately on the basis of certification.


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