Autism Delaware Gives Clarification On DAP Situation

Autism Delaware released a fact sheet today on the debacle involving the Delaware Department of Education, Christina School District, the Office of Management and Budget, and Governor Carney’s office.  This should answer many questions folks are having based on the Delaware Public Media article as well as my own last night.

If this is how it was supposed to happen, someone dropped the ball big time.  A lot of fingers can be pointed at Christina Superintendent Richard Gregg for failing to notify the district’s Board of Education (which is the governing body for the district and hired him in the first place).  As well, Governor Carney’s administration goofed big time by not putting certain funding for training personnel in their FY2020 budget proposal.  A lot of this comes down to communication.  We live in the 21st Century where communication is instant.  This kind of stuff shouldn’t happen!

State Rep. Kim Williams wrote the following on Facebook today:

OMB, Controller’s Office and DOE are setting up a meeting with Christina next week. The schools are not changing anything, they will still report to their current district. Teachers and staff will not be affected by any of this. They need to hire the two specialists and those specialists need to report to someone. They need to hire someone to oversee the specialists and the statewide program. The meeting this week will work all those details out.

Thanks to Autism Delaware for getting some facts out on this matter!

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The Alex Eldreth Autism Education Law Would Bring Big Changes To Delaware Autism Program

It must be education legislation pre-file day today!  State Representative Earl Jaques with a Senate sponsorship by Senator Margaret Rose Henry pre-filed House Bill #292.  This legislation is very similar to the 148th General Assembly’s Senate Bill #92 which failed to get out of the Appropriations Committee due to state budget constraints.  The key difference between HB #292 and SB #92 is the fiscal note was lowered for the new bill.  I love that Alex Eldreth, a longtime advocate for students with Autism in Delaware, is honored with this bill.  Eldreth, from Autism Delaware, passed away in November of 2017.

This Act implements the recommendations of the March 2015 Autism Educational Task Force report regarding § 1332 of Title 14, the Program for Children with Autism and its Special Staff. Enacted nearly three decades ago, this law established a network of educational programs initially within a separate school structure known as The Delaware Autism Program (DAP). Today, this network continues as a combination of both separate school programs and within local school district support services. However, the current model does not reflect current practices in special education, especially regarding inclusive education, and parents’ desire to have their children educated in their local communities. In addition, the increase in students with an educational classification of autism spectrum disorder (“ASD”) has made it difficult for the Statewide Director to provide the level of services and support that once was offered. This Act establishes the qualifications and duties of the Statewide Director and enhances the current mandatory committee structure to include a Parent Advisory Committee, in addition to the Peer Review Committee and Statewide Monitoring Review Board, to increase family input, monitoring, and protections. This Act creates a 3 year pilot program that revises the concept of DAP toward a system in which the statewide Director will work in collaboration with a team of experts to provide technical assistance and training to districts and educational entities. It allows for and provides adequate resources for all students with ASD in Delaware by eliminating the distinction between DAP-approved programs and other in-district options and by providing in-state experts at a lower cost than out-of-state residential treatment and consultants. The pilot program created under this Act makes changes that recognize and support the need for specialized technical assistance and training staff to be available to build capacity for teachers in all districts and other programs educating students with ASD. These changes expand available supports so that excellent, evidence-based training and technical assistance can be made available to all Delaware schools and the students who attend them. The pilot program created under this Act establishes a technical assistance team of educational autism specialists numbering a ratio of 1 for every 100 students (currently estimated at 15 positions). The fiscal mechanism to support the pilot program will be accomplished through mandated district participation that is consistent with the current needs-based funding system in Delaware and by redirecting state spending towards lower cost, community-based supports from out-of-state residential placements. The number of training specialists will be phased in over several years or until the pilot program ends. Finally, this Act is known as “The Alex Eldreth Autism Education Law” in memory Alex Eldreth, who passed away unexpectedly on November 24, 2017, and his dedication to this work.
To read the full legislation, please go here.

Governor Markell To Sign Autism Legislation On 9/14

Autism advocates fought for this bill.  Now, after a long summer, Delaware Governor Jack Markell will finally sign Senate Bill 93 at Autism Delaware, 924 Old Harmony Rd., Ste. 201 on Wednesday at 9am.

An act to amend Title 16 of the Delaware Code related to creating an interagency committee on Autism and the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism

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Senate Bill 93 was one of two Autism bills sponsored by Delaware Senator Margaret Rose-Henry which were introduced on May 12th, 2015.  After more than a year, Senate Bill 92 died as the 148th General Assembly ended on July 1st.  But Senate Bill 93, with its amendments, finally passed in the House in the late hours of June 30th after amendments passed.  Senate Bill 93 will give hope for better coordination of Autism services for the many parents of children and adults with Autism in the First State.

The history behind this legislation goes back a few years.  In 2013, Autism Delaware, with the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies and the Delaware Department of Education, released The Blueprint for Collective Action.  In the last days of the 147th General Assembly, an Autism Task Force was created.  Led by Senator Rose-Henry, the Autism Task Force created what eventually became the original bills, Senate Bill 92 and 93.  Senate Bill 93 was co-sponsored by Senators Catherine Cloutier and Bryan Townsend and State Representative Earl Jaques.

Delaware Autism has been the leading organization in Delaware for decades to help those with Autism.  To see a copy of their most recent newsletter, click here.

To see exactly what this bill will do for people with Autism, please see the below engrossment of the legislation which is exactly how it will be signed by Governor Markell.

Delaware State Senator Margaret Henry Chairs Autism Task Force, First Meeting Was September 30th @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @delawareonline @doverpost @TheStateNews @CapeGazette @WBOC @wdel

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The first meeting of the Autism Task Force was on September 30th.  Chaired by Delaware State Senator Margaret Henry of the 2nd District, the Autism Task Force was created by Senate Concurring Resolution 65 at the end of the 2014 Fiscal Year legislative session.  The purpose of the task force is to make recommendations on the University of Delaware’s Center For Disabilities Study on autism which created a Blueprint For Collective Action for education of autistic students in Delaware and beyond.

The study done by the University of Delaware’s Center For Disabilities Studies had some startling statistics about autism in America. 1 out of 88 American births are producing a child in the autism spectrum disorder which has grown at a rate of 1,148% with annual rates gaining anywhere from 7-10%. Current costs for autism in the USA are at $60 billion dollars, but in the next decade they are expected to soar anywhere from $200-$400 billion dollars. Out of the $60 billion that is currently spent on autism, $36 billion is spent on adults with autism. It is estimated that 2/3rd of these costs could be alleviated based on early diagnosis and treatment for children in the autism spectrum. An estimated 56% of students with autism finish high school.

Autism rates in Delaware over a 10 year period have gone from 475 in 2004 to 1,208 in 2013, rising nearly 3 times during the past decade.

The blueprint’s mission statement is to start “a statewide plan for improving and coordinating services and support to Delaware’s children, youth and adults with autism that contain long and short-range goals associated with specific outcomes. This was a result of stakeholder consensus that included a strong voice from parents and families and represented all ages and services from birth to late aged.”

The Blueprint model originated from the Statewide Autism Summit on June 7th, 2012. As a result of the summit, workgroups and committees formed, and they met from September, 2012 until May, 2013. In July of 2013, an Interagency Committee for Autism met, which resulted in a “Futures Plan” within a “Logic Model Framework” the same month. Various stakeholders involved in the process included hospitals, health professionals, the Delaware Department of Education, other state agencies, colleges and universities, families, advocacy agencies, schools, and various school districts. “The expected long-term outcome: To assure that all Delaware citizens with autism have the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to live independent or interdependent lives within the community.”

The blueprint has six areas of improvement it would like the state of Delaware to take a strong look at.

1) Better identification, diagnosis, and classification.

2) Training and technical assistance.

3) Pre-Professional training

4) Self-Determination, Self-Advocacy, and Social Network Development

5) Transition to Adult Life

6) Systems Coordination

In June 2014, as the legislative session wound down, the Delaware Senate passed Senate Concurring Resolution 65.  The resolution called for the initiation of Educational and Technical Assistance Teams and a statewide Autism Resource Center.

The Autism task force will have 25 minutes allotted each meeting for public comment.  The next meetings will occur on October 21st, November 8th, December 9th, January 13th, February 10th and March 10th.  No times are shown at present for the meetings, but I will certainly update this information as soon as I get it.

Senator Henry has a long and distinguished history in the Delaware Senate, proudly serving the 2nd District since 1994.  At present, she serves as the Senate Majority Whip for Delaware.  Henry will face Republican candidate Robert F. Martin in the November 4th election.  During the 147th Legislative Assembly in Delaware, Senator Henry served on the education committee along with fellow Senators David Sokola, Bethany Hall-Long, Nicole Poore, Bryan Townsend, Catherine Cloutier and Ernesto Lopez.  She also served as the chair of the Judiciary and Administrative Services/Election committees, while being a part of the Community/County Affairs, Executive, Ethics, Health & Social Services, Legislative Council and Permanent Rules committees during the same time period.  She has also served as the Executive Director of Delaware Guidance and as the Assistant Dean at Delaware -Technical and Community College.

 

*First picture of Senator Margaret Rose Henry is from the University of Delaware website, with the section entitled Blacks In Delaware

*Second picture of Senator Margaret Rose Henry is from Matt Denn’s campaign website for Attorney General of Delaware

 

 

 

Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn Launches New Website Called Front Of The Class @Matt_Denn @AutismDelaware @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @delawareonline @CapeGazette @WBOC @wdel @TheStateNews @DoverPost #netde #eduDE

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Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn has launched a new website called Front Of The Class: Helping Teachers Succeed In The Inclusive Classroom.  This is an excellent resource guide for teachers and special education teachers in Delaware’s schools in accommodating children on the Autism spectrum or even students with other disorders and disabilities as well.

The website has received articles and videos from contributors such as the Centreville Layton School, the Christina School District, the Delaware Autism Program, Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, The Pilot School, and Red Clay Consolidated School District, with added support from Autism Delaware.  Please check out the website at: http://frontoftheclassde.com/

Articles already released on the website cover such topics as “The Sensory Friendly Classroom”, “Classroom Management for Elementary School Students” and “What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder”.

Denn is the active Lieutenant Governor of Delaware, but is running for Delaware Attorney General due to current Attorney General Beau Biden’s resignation.  Denn has been very busy advocating for students with disabilities in the past few months as he is also the Chair for the IEP Task Force, which meets twice a month until December.