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1 Identifying, Engaging, and Serving Unaccompanied Children and Youth Part III: Students with Special Needs National Center for Homeless Education National.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Identifying, Engaging, and Serving Unaccompanied Children and Youth Part III: Students with Special Needs National Center for Homeless Education National."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Identifying, Engaging, and Serving Unaccompanied Children and Youth Part III: Students with Special Needs National Center for Homeless Education National Center for Homeless Education Spring 2008 Patricia Julianelle

2 2 Our Agenda Today Please forgive our Intro slides… Basic rights of youth with special needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Parents, surrogate parents, and decision- making under IDEA

3 3 Who Are Unaccompanied Children and Youth under the McKinney-Vento Act? STEP 1: Experiencing homelessness: Children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence: ûSharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason ûLiving in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations ûLiving in emergency or transitional shelters û Awaiting foster care placement û Living in a public or private place not designed for humans to live û Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, etc. û Migratory children living in above circumstances

4 4 Who Are Unaccompanied Children and Youth under the Law? (cont.) STEP 2: Unaccompanied: children and youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. Is there an age range? No. McKinney-Vento applies to all school-aged children and youth as defined by state law. Is there a citizenship requirement? No. Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe (1982) makes it unlawful for schools to deny access to undocumented immigrants or ask about immigration status. McKinney-Vento must be equally applied to undocumented students.

5 5 Who Are Unaccompanied Children and Youth in your Community? Some children and youth are in unstable living situations due to parental incarceration, illness, hospitalization or death. Some youth become homeless with their families, but end up on their own due to lack of space in temporary accommodations or shelter policies that prohibit adolescent boys. Many unaccompanied children and youth have fled abuse in the home: Studies have found that 20-40% of unaccompanied youth were sexually abused in their homes, while 40-60% were physically abused. Over two-thirds of callers to Runaway Hotline report that at least one of their parents abuses drugs or alcohol.

6 6 Who Are Unaccompanied Children and Youth in your Community? (cont.) At the end of 2005, over 11,000 children fled a foster care placement and were never found; 25-40% of youth who emancipate from foster care will end up homeless. Many youth have been thrown out of their homes due to their sexual orientation: 20-40% of unaccompanied youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (compared to 3-5% of adults). Over half of youth living in shelters report that their parents either told them to leave, or knew they were leaving and did not care. Who are unaccompanied youth in your community?

7 7 Impact of Homelessness on Unaccompanied Children and Youth Once out of the home, unaccompanied youth are frequently victimized. As many as half have been assaulted or robbed; one in ten runaways reports being raped. According to the federally-funded National Runaway Switchboard, 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year from assault, illness, or suicide.

8 8 Lets Get Started: True or False? Any student with a disability is eligible for special education services under IDEA. Once a student is determined eligible for special education, (s)he will remain in special education until graduation. If a student moves during the special education referral and assessment process, the referral is void and assessment must cease. A new referral must be made in order to proceed with testing. If a student receiving special education transfers to a school in a new school district, the new district must provide comparable special education services immediately. A youth must attend school consistently for 3 consecutive months before special education evaluations can begin. In some cases an adult caregiver with whom a youth is living can consent for special education evaluations or services for the youth.

9 9 Who is eligible to receive services under IDEA? Children who need special education and related services by reason of their disability. 20 USC 1401(3); 34 CFR 300.8

10 10 What is special education? Specially-designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. 1401(29);

11 11 What are related services? Transportation and developmental, corrective, and other supportive services required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, including: speech-language services audiology services interpreting services psychological services physical and occupational therapy early identification counseling services school health services social work services parent counseling and training 1401(26);

12 12 What are disabilities? ­ Learning disabilities ­ Mental retardation ­ Emotional disturbance (disability or disorder) ­ Other health impairment ­ Orthopedic impairment ­ Severe disabilities ­ Autism ­ Traumatic brain injury ­ Hearing impairment or Deafness ­ Visual impairment or Blindness ­ Multiple disabilities ­ (Developmental delay) 1401(3); 300.8

13 13 Possible Interventions Prior to Special Education Classroom interventions Mentors, tutoring School counselors Consult special education team Behavior management interventions Work with the youth/family

14 14 Starting the Process 1.The student must be age 3 – 21 (Part B); suspected of having a disability; who may need special education and related services. 2.The parent must request a special education evaluation, in writing. 1414(a)(1); (b) 3.The parent should keep a signed, dated copy of the request.

15 15 Managing the Process 4.The special education team and youth/family should work together to ensure the student receives all needed evaluations, promptly. What does promptly mean? IDEA now says within 60 days or within state timeframes. 1414(a)(1)(c); (c)

16 16 Those timeframes apply to students who change LEAs (school districts) while evaluations are pending, UNLESS (i) the new LEA is making sufficient progress to ensure a prompt completion of evaluations, AND (ii) the parent and the LEA agree to a specific time when the evaluation will be completed. 1414(a)(1)(C)(ii); (d)(2) ALSO, schools must coordinate with prior schools as necessary and as expeditiously as possible to ensure prompt completion of full evaluations. 1414(b)(3)(D); (c)(5) Managing the Process (cont.)

17 17 The Dreaded IEP 5.If evaluations show that the student needs special education and related services due to a disability, the school must develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the student within 30 days. The IEP is the blueprint for the students education. 1414(d); , Parents and school staff should work together to ensure the IEP is fully and consistently implemented.

18 18 How are IEPs implemented when a child changes LEAs? If the IEP is current, the new LEA must immediately provide appropriate services. 1414(d)(2)(C)(i); (e) What does appropriate services mean? Services comparable to those described in the previous IEP, In consultation with parents. 1414(d)(2)(C)(i); (e)

19 19 How are IEPs implemented when a child changes LEAs? (cont.) The new LEA must promptly obtain the childs records from the previous school, and the previous school must promptly respond to records requests. 1414(d)(2)(C)(ii); (g) û SEAS (Special Education Automation System): private web-based data system The new LEA can either adopt the old IEP, or develop a new one. If its a new state, the LEA can conduct new evaluations. 1414(d)(2)(C)(i); (e)

20 20 Lack of Instruction, Disadvantage and Response to Intervention Lack of instruction or environmental/economic disadvantage is not grounds to refuse to evaluate a student; it must be considered as part of the evaluation process or eligibility determination. û Instruction during the evaluation process can be sufficient. û USED suggests getting info from parents, prior teachers, and current classroom-based assessments/observations. Response to Intervention (RTI) provides supportive services to students suspected of having a learning disability. û Services are provided prior to or during evaluation process. û Parents retain their right to request an evaluation at any time. û USED suggests that RTI should expedite the evaluation process For a memo with more detail on these issues, 1414(b)(5) ,

21 21 Tips to Consider Refer the parent/youth for independent evaluations, if necessary. Help the parent/youth prepare for the IEP meeting; know what they want and why. Consider videoconferencing or a conference call if necessary; the parent has the right to be there. 1414(f); , Communicate concerns verbally and in writing. Know the chain of command for your communication. Refer the parent/youth to a lawyer or advocate, if necessary. (IDEA contains strong dispute resolution procedures.)

22 22 Who can be a parent for special education purposes? biological or adoptive parent, foster parent, guardian, person who is acting in the place of a parent and with whom the child is living; can be a non-relative ( include), a person legally responsible for the child. 1401(23); (a)(4)

23 23 What if more than one person meets the definition of parent? When the biological or adoptive parent is attempting to act as the parent, and another person(s) meets the definition of parent, the birth or adoptive parent will be presumed to be the parent, UNLESS ûThey dont have legal authority to make education decision for the child; or ûA judicial decree or order specifies another person who fits the parent definition to be the parent.

24 24 The LEA must assign a surrogate parent within 30 days, if: no parent can be identified, no parent can be located, the student is a ward of the State (or the juvenile court can appoint the surrogate), or the student is an unaccompanied youth under McKinney-Vento. 1415(b)(2); What if no one meets the definition of parent?

25 25 Who can be a surrogate parent? Cant be employees of state department of education, LEAs, or other agencies involved in the education and care of the child (i.e., cant be the child welfare caseworker). Cant have any conflicting interests. Must have knowledge and skills necessary to be a good surrogate. 1415(b)(2);

26 26 BUT for unaccompanied youth, the following people can be temporary surrogates: Staff of emergency shelters, transitional shelters, independent living programs, and street outreach programs; State, LEA, or agency staff involved in the education or care of the child. ûShould be appointed immediately upon determination of need. ûTemporary is not defined: but since regular surrogates must be appointed within 30 days, temporary probably means less than 30 days. ûSome LEAs have adopted a procedure where the liaison is immediately appointed temporary surrogate, to consent for evaluations or updates to IEPs; regular surrogate is appointed within 3-4 weeks ; preamble to regulations

27 27 Additional Protections for Unaccompanied Youth with Special Needs IDEA now specifically requires each public agency to ensure that the rights of unaccompanied homeless youth are protected (a) Any state receiving IDEA funds must comply with the McKinney-Vento Act for all children with disabilities who are homeless. 1412(a)(11)(A)(iii); (a)(3) The State must ensure that all students with disabilities who need special education are identified, located, and evaluated, specifically including students experiencing homelessness. 1412(a)(3)(A), 1435;

28 28 For Youth with Children: IDEA Part C Provides services to infants and toddlers under age 3 who have a disability (includes developmental delay, physical or mental condition likely to produce a developmental delay, and those at-risk for developmental delays, at a states discretion). For more info: 1434

29 29 Howd We Do: True or False? Any student with a disability is eligible for special education services under IDEA. FALSE Once a student is determined eligible for special education, (s)he will remain in special education until graduation. FALSE If a student moves during the special education referral and assessment process, the referral is void and assessment must cease. A new referral must be made in order to proceed with testing. FALSE If a student receiving special education transfers to a school in a new school district, the new district must provide comparable special education services immediately. TRUE A youth must attend school consistently for 3 consecutive months before special education evaluations can begin. FALSE In some cases an adult caregiver with whom a youth is living can consent for special education evaluations or services for the youth. TRUE

30 30 Resources from NCHE NCHE is the U.S. Department of Educations technical assistance and information center in the area of homeless education Online trainings and tutorials: Website: Helpline: or Listserve – contact Products that may be ordered online (educational rights posters, Parent Pack pocket folders, desktop enrollment folders, parent handbooks, NCHE brochures) – free in limited quantities Publications and briefs that address pertinent issues in homeless education available for download, including a Toolkit for Local Homeless Education Liaisons

31 31 Additional Resources National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth National Center for Homeless Education National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty National Network for Youth National Runaway Switchboard Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Program, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

32 32 Additional Resources (cont.) NASDSE (www.nasdse.org) ûProject FORUM (1999 proceedings) û2004 QTA Brief: CEC (www.cec.sped.org/) ûCEC Today – March 2003 Project HOPE-VA (www.wm.edu/hope) ûInformation briefs – special ed., ECSE National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities ûwww.nichcy.org (Includes fact sheets) NAEHCY, NCHE and NLCHP ûIndividuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004: Provisions for Children and Youth with Disabilities Who Experience Homelessness;

33 33 Additional Resources (cont.) Legal Center for Foster Care and Education ûwww.abanet.org/child/education Parent Training and Information Centers û(888) The Child Advocate ûwww.childadvocate.net/educational.htm Free legal resources for students with disabilities ûNational Disability Rights Network (www.napas.org) ûwww.nls.org/paatstat.htm Resources for parents of students with disabilities, from USDE ûwww.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/resources.html USDE Office of Special Education Programs ûwww.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/OSEP USDE Office for Civil Rights ûwww.ed.gov/offices/OCR

34 34 Ben Ben has been through more in his 15 years than most have in their whole life. He moved in with a friends family in our district in October. Ben left home (in a neighboring district) after an altercation with his mother, who has a history of substance abuse. In November, I (his teacher) referred him to the Child Study team due to his academics, social interactions, and behavior. I was told that he just has a lot going on in his life and they would revisit his case in February. In those four months, Ben made no academic progress (if anything he regressed) and continued to "spiral out of control." In February, the Child Study team finally decided to evaluate Ben for special education services. However, they told me they needed someone to sign the consent for evaluation. On March 19th, a surrogate parent was appointed and evaluations began. It is now May, and we just met with the team and surrogate parent to go over the evaluation results. Ben qualified for learning disabilities in all subject areas. He qualified for OT for fine and gross motor skills. It was also decided that he would benefit from counseling due to emotional distress.

35 35 Ben Qs I don't understand why this whole process had to take so long. Why didn't the testing start back in November? Why did it take over a month to appoint the surrogate parent? Why was all this time wasted? Should the process take this long? Diagram what an appropriate process would look like. How would your diagram change if Bens mother had consented for special education evaluations in Bens previous school? Or if he had an IEP from his previous school? Who could have consented for Bens evaluations in the new school? Diagram the various adults who could be involved, and under what circumstances. What would you do to prevent/reduce such delays? To support Ben?


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