California tries to win back “stay put”

13 Apr

Parents, of course, have the primary responsibility to provide for the needs of their children. But, children and adults with special needs often require more than their parents can provide, and that’s where government agencies are supposed to help out.

In California, the Regional Centers manage government sponsored services for those with exceptional needs up to age 3. At age 3, the school districts take over as the lead agency, with the RC’s taking a secondary role.

That is, of course, if all goes according to plan.

What if a school district is swamped or for any other reason isn’t prepared to take over? What happens to the child’s services?

Up until a couple of years ago, the child would stay in the same services until the school district and parents could work out the new plan. This was called “stay put”. A family could say, “Hey, look, you aren’t prepared to take on my kid’s services in the school, so we are going to ‘stay put’ with the services we have until this gets worked out”. During ‘stay put’, the district pays for the same services the RC was paying for until age 3.

Then came a change to IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. Stay put was lost.

Yeah, parents can pay out of pocket while going through a dispute process. That is, parents with the money to do so. The dispute process, at best, take a few months.

This didn’t happen without a lot of activism to try to keep “stay put”. So far, it hasn’t reinstated “stay put”, but there is hope. State Assembly Bill AB1124 is in process.

There is a hearing on this with the Education Committee, this Wednesday (April 15).

This is a proposed California Law, but, let’s face it, setting the precedent that stay put needs to be in place could help people throughout the US. For Californians, now would be a good time to contact your assembly person about this. If your assembly person is on the Education Committee, now is a REALLY good time to contact him/her.

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