Final: Approved 9/4/07
Temporary Task Force on Preschool Special Education
Syracuse Regional Roundtable
Site: Roberts School
August 6, 2007
If you were not able to attend a Roundtable
Session, you can submit your comments to the Task Force at PrekTaskForce@mail.nysed.gov .
Comments should be in response to the same three questions asked at each
What about the current system works? (Keep)
Service Coordinators - They are the biggest piece. They are very,
very helpful and necessary as far as what is available for kids and parents
and how to go about accessing information. It is the most important
piece of the system that works and must stay.
Integrated Settings – Allows the children to learn from others. The
children have typical friends as well as special needs friends. Allows
them to have role models and peers to learn from. The typical children
are more accepting of special needs children also. The staff in integrated
settings bounces ideas off of each other and works together for the betterment
of the children (typical and special needs). Resources are there
Early Intervention – Works very well and allows the parent participation. Parents
feel they are part of a team and become very involved. There is a
feeling of co-treating their children.
CPSE is working well. They are always looking for parents input. Goals
are set and the committee listens to parents for input. It is really
helpful and has happened that Service Providers attend CPSE meetings.
Home-based and School-based Programming – This is a huge piece. Teams
would meet once a month for evaluation. This programming is working
very well and must stay.
Thompkins County has a program for the Toddler Group. For 2 hours,
2 days a week Service Providers go into the home. They help with modeling
and attend the Toddler Group. It’s a great program and the
Service Providers help parents work through having a child with a disability.
Flexibility of Services – Some areas offer a huge flexibility of
services: aqua-therapy, music therapy, health therapy, sign language
(learning together) and new programs are tried, which is great! Topics,
however, are not experienced by everyone.
Take a look at the Jowonio Program in Syracuse (Onondaga
County) – It
Works! Great Programming!
What about the current system could or should work better? (Improve)
Inconsistencies about what is offered. If the Special Education Itinerant
Teacher (SEIT) rate was better there could be more opportunities for typical
settings. In one instance, there was no choice – it was either
home or 4410. Some do get typical preschool with services pushed
in but it is inconsistent.
Providers should provide services in typical preschool and have SEIT teacher
go into the preschool classroom.
There should be the choice to choose the Toddler Preschool Program if not
choosing to send to an inclusion class.
3 year old children with disabilities are the last chosen to fill a quota
and if there is no room, they cannot attend Head Start and lose out.
Transportation is a huge piece.
There is a gap between 3 year olds (out of the program)
and what is available. Children
slip back and regress.
The birthday thing is Huge! Aging out, etc. In March,
3 is 3. No openings in March would not allow a child to go to any
preschool if full.
These are 12-month children – They NEED 12 month programming – NOT
10 months - a full 12 months. They need full summer services.
Most providers will not start students in the summer so they have to wait
until fall and lose out and possibly regress.
It is very difficult when you are told you are getting a spot ahead of
time, and then when the time comes to sign up, the spot is not there.
There needs to be more information given to parents. Service
Coordinators are the only ones who help the parents.
There needs to be awareness of services and an advocacy program.
“Pediatric Links” needs to be made a requirement of all Pediatric
Physicans – it needs to be mandated.
CPSE Chair or CSE Chair needs to be more approachable with coordination.
The difference between evaluation and diagnosis needs
to be explained to parents. Because you have your child evaluated does not mean that
he/she is diagnosed. These are two separate processes done by two
What about the current system should be overhauled or changed substantially?
- Child Find
- Continuity of Services
- Coordination of Services
- The fact that there is no choice due to aging out (Pre-Kindergarten regular
- Respite dollars need to be more abundant. The system needs to be
overhauled. It is difficult to find providers to come in for 10 hours
a week, or anyone for that matter.
- Preschool – Appropriate reimbursement needed for indirect time.
- Programming – Timeline needs to be changed to complete 12-month
programming (not 10 month) for3-5 year olds.
- Look at timelines for evaluations and support.
- Better support and resources for 3-5 year olds.
- Ways to qualify need to be changed. Children get lost between
Early Intervention and School. Do a comparison of eligibility requirements
across programs and across states.
- Need consistency and follow-through with Birth to 6 year old programming.
- Allow a more holistic approach and address the issue of agencies and
who they service.
- Kids with special needs are not welcomed into UPK. They NEED to
be welcomed into UPK everywhere.
- How knowledge of programming gets to parents before services are needed. There’s
a frustration that information is not readily available.
What about the current system works? (Keep)
The current system has the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) which allows
the children more flexibility.
Strong commitment to parent input. Parents are
encouraged to share their comments, voice their concerns and offer input
on what services they desire for their children.
Clear communication exists between parents, providers and the school district
regarding learning standards for all children.
The strong connection with parents, students and the school district.
Observation of the child in a natural environment. Allowing
children to learn at their own pace.
Continue to maintain services to be provided in homes, schools and early
education centers on a variety of support levels.
The range of related services offered such as music.
Programs that are directed by special education teachers.
The collaboration between regular and special education teachers.
The current system offers direct services rather than consultative services.
Having more full-day options with adequate levels of support.
The large variety of providers and services provided to the parents.
Individualization of individualized educational programs
is important because children have special needs in individualized areas.
The timely responses to parents from teachers once a referral has been
The county and providers maintain a positive working relationship with
The process in which evaluations are conducted must be maintained.
The programs with specific rates are working well vs. a program with broader
Continue keeping the rates where providers are only billing one entity
and not billing parents.
What about the current system
could or should work better? (improve)
What about the current system should be overhauled or changed substantially?
- There should be a uniform approach maintained across counties and state
- Consistency between districts – what is expected from a provider. Currently,
each district is different in the way I.E.P.’s, evaluations, etc.
- The computerized systems that are in place. It seems as though
computer systems are driving the I.E.P.’s and this should not be
- The county doesn’t have the right to withhold payments from other
municipalities and at times, this is being done.
- Evaluations are not being done in a timely manner.
- Are more evaluators needed for these entities, or are the evaluators
in place not efficient. Perhaps it should be looked at as to whether
these evaluators in place are properly trained to conduct efficient evaluations.
- The counties are playing too much of a role in decision making.
- The State Education Department may need to have mandated training with
- A lack of services to parents and children exists, especially in rural
counties. Also, there are too few evaluators.
- Parents are not being told that there is a timeline on evaluations.
- There is also a lack of trained providers for related services.
- Annual meetings regarding fiscal changes should be programmatic.
- There is a lack of adequate reimbursement for evaluations.
- Improve training on the learning standards needs to be considered.
- Assistance to parents should be consistently maintained on the programs
offered. Once service coordinating ends, parents are not kept informed
- The districts, counties and providers must be more consistent when working
- Everyone working with families needs the same training.
- Let less restrictive options be more cost effective. Let consultation
be an option through CPSE process.
- More consistency and discretion on what is discussed at CSE meetings.
- Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) – the Task Force should
look at funding for FBA’s.
- Evaluation teams should send a member to the Committee on Special Education
- Need to improve the skill levels of staff who works with children all
- More teaming among professionals who work with children.
- There must be earlier identification of children who may need special
- Behavioral assistance with children should be offered in the homes of
the children who are receiving special services.
- Reimbursement should be offered for family training.
- Many problems encountered between school districts, the county and providers
occur because of the lack of adequate funding. Limited mental health support
services for children under the age of seven.
- There should be more intervention in the home once children turn the
age of three.
- There isn’t enough tolerance from the State Education Department
regarding double stacks and some children require additional services.
Without the ability to double stack, more kids are put in full-day settings
when not necessary.
Stacks should not be charged at the county level.
The rate setting method holds us back for two years.
Counties need to be required to pay for specific equipment
to meet a child’s
needs. Many children require equipment for physical therapy, etc. however,
these needs aren’t being met because of lack of funding for the equipment.
The counties must go out!
The counties must stay in!
Don’t make districts pay for any funding.
Dual systems are in place and they don’t work,
nor do they make sense.
Need assurance that Universal Prekindergartens (UPK) will be developmentally
Change the way rates are created and how an educational institution determines
Rate setting should be respectful of professionals. Because
dollars are coming from the county, it becomes a political issue.
Sometimes, if you try to be cost-effective, you get whacked.
Processing of set rates should be more streamline. Rates
need to be faster and more quickly approved.
Let’s not call it rate setting, let’s think
of a better term.
There are too many levels of bureaucracy when setting rates; the money
is not reaching the child.
Providers need the ability to shift money based on their needs.
Rates need to be improved and cannot stay cost neutral.
We must look at the efficiency of the rates.
Efficiency rates to be meaningful must take into account weather (schools
get closed when weather gets inclement) and where the special needs child
Rate setting methodology doesn’t reflect the law.
Rates do not take into account for new speech therapists and other professional
Cash flow is an on-going problem.
There must be uniformity and clarity across the state as to what is required
for funding for services.
State Education Department needs overall to be responsible.
Model of rational defense loan.
National problem to reimburse “people helping people”.
Not enough dollars for what we do.
What about the current system works? (keep)
County representatives need to be involved at Committee on Preschool Education
(CPSE) meetings or work with them.
40% agree as long as the Counties are putting in money, they should have
some say in the outcome.
All collaborative help between agencies.
The Herkimer representative – Coordinate all rural and non-rural
technology wise – some providers are computerized and some are not. All
county representatives agree that keeping a consistent relationship with
CPSE’s as long as they are fiscally responsible they want to be involved
in CPSE process.
Consistent rates for everyone.
Continue all services that are already on paper.
All should be a centralized location for some to coordinate – services,
an oversight piece.
3 out of 10 counties represented on task force.
Municipal representation within County.
Transition process should be kept.
Transition from Early Intervention (EI) to Preschool contact referral system
is working well.
Parent choice piece is very important. Evaluators
also need the choice process.
IEP Process within School process – very important
Preschoolers with a Disability – continue with
Need eligibility requirements to help the committees.
What about the current system could or should work better (improve)
Counties – It is cumbersome to be both payee and authorizer – should
Adding to layers of bureaucracy.
It is a burden to taxpayers.
The state costing sharing never came about – reduce
or eliminate the County fiscal burden.
There may be a 3-year-old Universal Pre-kindergarten in the future.
Rate setting – proof is needed that what should be done is really
being done. Services that are being put on IEP is inconsistent
from District to District – for example, rural vs. city. They
need some resolution on what services are enough.
Evaluators or providers in rural area are very expensive or nonexistent.
Retroactive reimbursement – not fair if you cannot
wait for the reimbursement.
Fiscal piece is an issue for all of New York State.
Some parents refusing services because they have to
send their children to a half day program. Parents want and need to send children all
day – because of jobs/babysitting – so they are refusing
services so that the children can attend a full day program.
Need to put services in all day Pre-k maybe with co-teachers or service
Need Birth to 21 system instead of Birth to 5 to help
family and children. This
would provide help with the transition from preschool to school age.
Some outreach parent training needed.
There are too many players in system.
Parents need to be involved in therapeutic environment,
instead of giving a child a 1:1 – that is not the answer.
Smaller districts cannot keep up with funding because
of the clerical, transportation or the home education piece. It is almost
impossible to keep up fiscally. The state should really be paying.
Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) also has a lack of services
and limited resources.
Absorbing Preschool in rural areas raises taxes causing
some older homeowners would lose homes if the tax rate should rise. They
have many marginal families.
What about the current system should be overhauled
or changed substantially?
Most should be fiscally on state – rate
for reimbursement to County has to be better – reasonable rates.
Rate reimbursement should
be 100% New York State.
What should the county’s share be?
State should reimburse according to the law by 95%.
Program approval within 60 days before a rate setting,
right now if everything is current correctly submitted the wait is 45 days. Then
they have to wait 9 months to a year for a rate setting and implementation.
We have the lowest state region and have been sited for evaluations.
Parents chooses evaluations site with a longer waiting
time – parents
should be notified of other sites and options with a shorter waiting time.
Rate setting –a school district will get a smaller
amount of money vs. agencies who treat smaller amounts of children.
Agencies – do not have same benefits for employees, i.e., salary,
retirement. That creates tension with teachers/staff – they
need more equitable treatment.
More social workers working with families.
Some providers push Academic orientation instead of social emotional, i.e,
Early Reading First, not pushed but presented in a way that teaches while
enjoying the learning process.
The Governor said there is going to be changes.
Single set of standards (Birth – 5) for every Preschool (3 and up)
instate – technical assistant standards – all work together.
It should not be County against state.
Remember what’s best for the children are important – not
all about fiscal problems.
Evaluations lose money - evaluators need to be appropriately funded. Rates
need to be changes. Sometimes they have to go back 3-4 years.
Evaluators – providers can make strong recommendations
Provide a seamless coordination from Birth – 5,
and then onto the chairperson.
Relative services – be flexible - services
only that were needed.
Medicaid and private insurances should help finance.
Take out payment for summer school services- only 10% reimbursement to
Decide who is paying – what is expected of each
Transition EI – Preschool period: Automatically 1st year – summer
school services, second year – decide whether to attend, do not only
go by birthrate but the child’s needs – both physical and emotional.
Kindergarten enrollment start date – December 1st, change to September
1st. Federal/State law – cannot change.