Earlier this week, the Indiana General Assembly’s interim study committee on education met to discuss expending funding for Special Education. Pam Wright, director of special education for the Indiana Department of Education, suggested that the legislature appropriate an additional $4 million for services for kids age five to seven.
In Indiana, children who qualify for Special Education services are divided by groups based on their specific needs. There are groups for children with Autism, learning disabilities, speech delays, and so on. If specialists are not able to identify a child’s specific issue, they may be classified as “developmentally delayed.”
Preschools can receive Special Education funding for children who are in the “developmentally delayed” category, but due to the way some Indiana education laws are written, this category no longer exists in K-12 schools.
As a result, some children qualify for Special Education services in preschool, but lose that qualification in kindergarten. After a couple of years, specialists are able to identify some specific disability, and the children qualify for Special Education services again. The additional $4 million, and some changes to the way legislation is worded, could help these kids keep the services they need during these “gap” years.
According to Wright, nearly 4,200 preschoolers in Indiana have been diagnosed with developmental delays that may or may not qualify them for Special Education services in kindergarten.
The committee has not decided if it will introduce a bill next year, and may not, as 2016 is not a budget year.
You can read the full list of interim study committees and watch upcoming meetings at http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/committees/interim .
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