Tuesday, January 17, 2017

DEL Releases Plan to Improve Services for Infants, Toddlers

The 2016 Legislature passed (SB) 5879 which required the Department of Early Learning (DEL) to develop and submit a plan to the Washington Legislature on comprehensive and coordinated services for all children eligible for the early support for infants and toddlers (ESIT) program in accordance with part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). If implemented, this plan would create efficiency that will direct more resources to infants and toddlers with special needs and their families.

This plan:
  • Improves financial oversight and transparency within early intervention programs,
  • Simplifies administrative processes and provides greater technical support to early intervention providers, and
  • Ensures the State is maximizing resources for infants and toddlers by significantly increasing usage of both Medicaid and private insurance funding.
DEL received significant feedback from stakeholders during the development of the plan and made substantial changes to the final version in response.

We recognize that some of the administrative costs described in this report are being used by school districts for necessary special education services for preschool (age 3-4) and school age children. Immediate change would be disruptive and we recommend that changes to the program only become effective upon passage of the state’s plan to fund public education (in response to McCleary v. State of Washington Supreme Court Case Number 84362-7) and no earlier than July 1, 2018.

In addition, there is currently a proposal from a Governor-appointed commission to revise how Washington serves children and families. The proposal suggests restructuring existing services to create the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families. If this proposal is implemented by the Legislature, then this early intervention plan should be implemented in a coordinated way on July 1, 2018. DEL is committed to maintaining an effective system that serves all Washington children and families in need of these essential services and working with our partners to do so.

For the last ten months, DEL staff members have engaged more than 1,000 stakeholders across 46 separate events as well as responded to more than 50 pieces of written feedback in order to meet their legislative charge (see appendix A in the report linked below). DEL leadership and ESIT staff have been gathering stakeholder feedback through surveys and facilitated discussions with local lead agency (LLA) staff,
school district contacts, the State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC), stakeholders from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), as well as receiving support from national technical assistance providers and Part C leadership in other states.

To read the entire plan, click here: 2016 ESIT Plan.

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