Transition/Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Workgroup
Meeting Minutes
August 14, 2007, 10am-4pm
NYSUT Headquarters

Attendees
Members:  Bill Combs; Michael Dedee; Bob Frawley; Mary Garrett; Chris Vogelsang; Kim Fine; Brad Hutton; Sandy Rybaltowski
Visitors:  Judy Gerson, UCP of NYS; Pam Madeiros, NYS Alliance for Children with Special Needs; Jessica Morelli, NYSAC; Dave Rothfuss, NYSUT; Suzanne Sennett, OCFS; Tina Goodwin-Segal, MAGI
Support:  Anne Campbell; Juliet Carhart
Facilitator:     Roxanne Wright

Opening
The attendees introduced themselves.  Roxanne went over the agenda and discussed the format for the meeting and some ground rules. 

Kim noted that there had been minor revisions to the Statement of Purpose and Principles.  The group indicated its continued support for the Statement as revised.

Regional Roundtable sessions in Long Island, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany
Mike D. attended three of the sessions and facilitated a parent group, a provider group and a school district/county group.  Some of the key points he heard were:  there is a disconnect between DOH and SED; possibility of one oversight agency; the general consensus was that DOH would be a better choice than SED; differences in service availability and approval from county to county -- there needs to be guidance and training to encourage consistency.  There also was consensus that the requirement to demonstrate regression is a problem for ESY.

Bill C. facilitated parent groups.  He noted a difference in opinion between Rochester and Syracuse about how much coordination should occur between counties and school districts, and also heard concerns about the lack of consistency between locations about challenges parents face in navigating the system. 

Mary G. facilitated the provider group session in Albany.  The central issue was salary discrepancies between service locations.  There is also a lack of consistency in fee structures between CSPE’s and counties.  The concern is that DOH oversight of pres-school programs would cause them to be too medically driven, SED tends to rely too heavily on an age-driven as opposed to a developmental model for determining care.  Rural areas in general are lacking in services.

Chris V. facilitated the county / school district group in Syracuse.   Participants agreed that there should one oversight agency to organize funding for the entire system.  There is a lack of consistency from child to child, and an over-reliance on pre-specified programs. 

Bob F. facilitated the Long Island parent group, the participants were sophisticated -- many work in the system.  Parents reported that they received the supports and services that they needed in EI, were able to get the services that they needed in Preschool Special Education despite the lack of supports, and all this prepared them for the significant advocacy efforts they needed to exert to get the services their child needed once they entered school.   They felt it would help them make decisions if they were provided with a list of service providers and evaluators, possibly with some sort of rating system or background information.  They reported a distinct lack of consistency in the decisions of CPSEs between school districts and even within the same district. Parents complained that their was no system of monitoring CPSEs and providers and no quality improvement program.  They questioned the degree to which services were evidence-based.

Kim F. facilitated the parent group in Albany she heard: concerns about consistency from school district to school district and county to county; a desire for parents to continue with same providers through transitions; inadequate program options in rural areas; and, a need for support and advocacy to help families navigate the system and feel like they got the help their children need (they felt they knew best but their input was valued least).

Results of Outreach Efforts
Mary G. handed out the results and the summary of the survey that went out to providers.  The main points were that there needs to be more training, and one lead agency to coordinate the system.  ESY is too difficult to operationalize.  (summary attached)

Recommendation Assessment
After hearing about regional events and the results of Mary’s survey, the question was posed about additional recommendations:

There was discussion about the need to identify resources that exist to help families, and discern ways to connect people to them.  Gaps in available advocacy/support for families also need to be identified and addressed.  The difference between advocacy and making connections needs to be identified.  Service delivery people are the focal point of how to let parents know about resources available to them. 

Further discussion centered on the role of the parent member of the CPSE.  Parents seem to want support for an adversarial approach to decision making – system should not set up an adversarial dynamic. 

Each step in the continuum needs to support the others, not undermine them.

Additional recommendations

The group reviewed a handout of recommendations collected from members of the workgroup.  (results of discussion attached)

Presentation on Child Care in NYS by Suzanne Sennett and Bob Frawley

Suzanne Sennett began by describing OCFS’ role as regulator of regulated child care, providing access to child care for low-income families, and investing in the development of quality child care in NYS. 

Suzanne noted that 50% of children in NYS are receiving care in “legally exempt” child care settings.  OCFS provides access to helpful resources, and financial incentives for these providers to acquire child care training. 

In relation to the promoting the inclusion of children with special needs in the full range of day care settings, there is a need for more advocacy and support for these providers, as they often feel left out of the system, and may not have the flexibility to attend committee meetings or information sessions.

There is a need to better coordinate programmatic layers, and eliminate conflicting issues.

When designing professional development curriculum, it’s important to personalize programs.  OCFS offers video conferencing to cover general professional development topics, and also provides training modules that individuals can adapt to their own needs. 

OCFS believes that 4410 and regular child care providers collaborating can provide a broader continuum of service, create more flexibility, and can help to eliminate much of the bureaucracy in service.  The best way to determine care is to evaluate by person to person, and program to program, with modes and methods of service being determined by the individual student.

Bob provided three handouts:  a description of early learning programs in New York State; a chart of the major early programs with information on purpose, oversight, funding and target population; and a chart describing pre-service and in-service education and training requirements for class room personnel/providers and the typical sources of the training and education required.  .

Bob said that qualifications vary dramatically between programs.  Nursery and pre-schools are unregulated, although SED has a voluntary registration program.   

A number of credential programs have been developed or are under development  in New York State to support the professional development of early care and education providers:  Infant/Toddler Care and Education Credential, Children’s Program Administrator Credential,  Family Child Care Provider Credential and a Trainers Credential.  All are based on the Core Body of Knowledge Framework that was developed in 1994 and revised in 1998 to set out the competencies that staff of early care and education programs need to provide high quality services.  Information on the credentials and the Core Body of Knowledge are available on a website developed by the Council on Children and Families:  www.earlychildhood.org.

Next Steps

Mary G. will give the presentation of the workgroup’s recommendations to the full task force. 

The next meeting of this workgroup will be September 10.