Studies have found that children with disabilities experience a higher rate of maltreatment than children without disabilities, and that they are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system. For example, a study in 2000 by Sullivan and Knutsen showed that youth with disabilities were 3.4 times more likely to be maltreated.
Last year, CASCW released two policy briefs on youth with disabilities in child welfare. One addressed the prevalence and population while providing policy solutions, while the other specifically focused on older youth with disabilities in child welfare and educational outcomes. This year, CASCW will be publishing two issues of CW360° on the intersection of disability and child welfare. The first issue will focus on children with disabilities while the second will focus on parents with disabilities.
Governor Dayton's budget proposal
On Wednesday, The Office of the Governor Blog posted about Governor Mark Dayton's budget proposal as it relates to children with disabilities in the schools. Overall, his proposal includes $125 million for special education, providing an additional $180 per student per year for every school district in Minnesota.
In addition to the increased funding, Governor Dayton has also proposed that school districts share costs for special education services if a student open enrolls in a district other than the one in which the student lives, rather than requiring the school district in which the student lives to shoulder the costs. His budget also reduces paperwork for special education teachers by creating an online reporting system, so that teachers have more time to spend with their students.
In addition to Governor Dayton's focus on special education services, the legislature has introduced several bills that focus on children with disabilities. The ones particularly relevant to children with disabilities in child welfare relate specifically to developmental disabilities, especially autism spectrum disorder.
H.F. 79 (S.F. 171) and H.F. 395 (S.F. 491) both would create an autism spectrum disorder pilot program that would provide employment support services for individuals with high-functioning autism, Asperger syndrome, nonverbal learning disorders, and pervasive development disorder NOS. H.F. 181 (S.F. 314) would require health plans to provide coverage for the diagnosis, evaluation, assessment, and medically necessary care of autism spectrum disorders. H.F. 1121 (S.F. 1043) would focus specifically on young children by modifying prepaid health plans to include screening, diagnosis, and treatment of young children with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental conditions in order to improve such services.
Additionally, S.F. 978 (H.F. 1151), a major education bill, includes a provision that would mandate referrals to Part C Early Intervention Services for children under age three who are the subjects of, rather than involved in, a substantiated case of abuse or neglect, and that the referral must occur within seven calendar days from the date of identification. This same bill requires a report to be submitted to the governor and Dept. of Education on the status of early intervention services and programs in Minnesota.
What would you do to improve services for children (or parents) with disabilities in child welfare? Post your response as a comment or, better yet, post via video response to our child welfare video wall and participate in a national dialogue!