Transition/Least Restrict Environment (LRE) Workgroup
July 30, 2007 - Meeting Minutes
Note: the remaining workgroup meetings will be at NYSUT Headquarters, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham

Attendees

Kim Fine, Bradley Hutton, Christine Vogelsang, Mary Garrett, Michael Dedee, William Combes, Cindy Gallagher, Robert Frawley [Additional people observed the meeting and were asked for input during select discussions.]

Facilitator

Bonnie Edelstein

  1. Discussion about full task force meeting (Kim Fine)

New York provides a broad range of services to help children minimize the limits imposed by disabilities and prepare them for success in school.  The numbers of children identified as needing services has been growing, as have the associated costs.  This creates a risk to the State’s ability to sustain service levels and quality for the long term.  It is the purpose of the Task Force on Preschool Special Education to recognize New York’s strengths and challenges and offer recommendations to policy makers for an improved service system that advances the following principles:

As a next step, each workgroup will discuss the proposed Statement of Purpose and recommend amendment or adoption.  While it might be preferable to develop such a document as a full Task Force, this was the best available approach given time constraints.

  1. Workgroup Member Outreach Updates (Mike Dedee)

(Handout: Summary of Responses from Stakeholders)

 3.   Identifying Future Challenges (Members offer their perspective and data)

Aggregate/Statewide Trends (K. Fine)

Enrollment

     Costs

Mary G. noted that in some States, children receiving related services only are not considered pre-school special education students.   She raised the question of whether, by using preschool special education funding for related services only, are we using the money as we should?  If services are not for special education purposes, should they be covered by another payment source – insurance? 

Trends in numbers of children being served & types of services and setting for service delivery (Christine Vogelsang & Mary Garrett)

Trends in Children Being Served:

There was a discussion about ABA.  More parents want ABA for their children but it is not readily available.  Sandy R. noted that SED did a study on Preschool kids with Autism. It found that integration has positive effects; ABA is a method of helping children on the autism spectrum but it is not the only method.

Christine V. noted that too often we fit kids into programs instead of designing programs for kids. Need to build programs around children’s needs.  In the case of Asperger’s Syndrome – CPSEs need more training on the ability of these kids…they tend to be placed in settings that are too restrictive.

Trends in Types of Services and Settings

Data shows that for optimal learning, 1/3 or fewer of the class should be children with disabilities.

Trends in EI (Brad Hutton)

Over the past three years EI has experienced a stabilization in growth in enrollment and State cost.

Cost moderation achieved through maximization of Medicaid and increase in recovery from 3rd party insurance (more to be done) [There is a risk to Medicaid funds for certain EI services.]

Growth moderation has been achieved through better evaluation and eligibility standards and fewer children staying beyond age 3.

Trends in other indicators (Head Start Participation) (Bob Frawley)
(Handout – 2005-06 Program Year Data)

Potential Opportunities – UPK  (Cindy Gallagher)
(4 handouts: NYS UPK pamphlet, 2005-06 UPK Program Annual Report to the Legislature, Chart on Percent of Students in NYS Prekindergarten Programs by Need Category and UPK New Districts/Total Districts in County)

Kim F. asked why, unlike other education programs, there seems to be no assumption of local share and Cindy explained that it is part of the evolution from a grant program.

Cindy G. described several challenges to getting school districts to start UPK programs and noted that SED is working to encourage them and to identify ways to overcome challenges.

Training Early Childhood Educators
(several handouts)
Representatives from SUNY Cobleskill provided the group with an overview of the curriculum for people pursuing careers in early childhood education.  A small number of students pursue a one-year certificate, about a quarter pursue associates degrees and the majority is on a teacher certification track that would lead to a BA.  All require core courses that educate students about “typical behaviors” and there are courses about children with special needs.  There is a concerted effort to teach students how to adapt activities to integrate children with disabilities.

Through practicum and internships try to help students:

Christine V. noted the importance of preparing early childhood teachers to assist children with oral language development.

The group discussed the need for:

Integration has been a focus of national early childhood provider organizations and the SUNY Cobleskill representatives provided numerous materials describing these initiatives.

Group Discussion of Potential Recommendations from Today’s Discussion:

Transition:

        
LRE:

Next Steps

All workgroup members will develop recommendations for discussion at the next meeting.  (They will be sent to Anne Campbell by Thursday August 2, compiled into a single document identifying source of recommendation and shared with the full workgroup.)