The root of the State of Delaware cutting day treatment centers that have state contracts lies with Medicaid. The federal government issued guidance in 2011 urging states to look at their state Medicaid plans. As a result of Delaware’s plan, it has been determined that day treatment centers can no longer be reimbursed for education through Medicaid as of June 30th, 2016. The news coming out about the state closing these centers has not been officially released yet but something is supposed to come out from the Division of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families this evening.
What this means is day centers can no longer provide any education services for children under the age of 21. They can only provide direct treatment or counseling. Many students that currently attend these centers receive both. It will force these centers to essentially shut down. So far, it has been confirmed that the two most impacted day centers will be the Terry Center in New Castle and Seaford House in Sussex County. But there are others, and this will impact a lot of children.
So where will these children go? Many parents of these students fear they will be placed in their district Intensive Learning Centers (ILC). I have found these ILCs to be more like a boot camp than a place where students with disabilities or troubled youth can get the true help they need. The ILCs tend to treat all problems as behavior, but most severe disabilities are neurologically based.
All of this was reported by the State of Delaware through the regulatory process, but the language used in the writing is somewhat vague and never once mentions the words “day treatment center” which is the commonly used terminology for these places. This is from Regulation 763 which was finalized on February 1st, 2016:
As I feared, they are taking out services that are necessary for students with disabilities and attempting to replace those with either in-home services or school-based services. I’m sorry, but even with the strides some schools have made with special education, these students are not meant to be in an inclusive setting at times based on their disabilities. And ILCs are a prison for these kids. They are psychological torture. This is very bad. Delaware will say they went through all the proper channels, but if the Regulation was finalized in February, why are parents just finding out about this now? Why didn’t they send something to parents that have their child in the state Medicaid program to let them know of these HUGE changes? Writing about regulations with all their confusing jargon and legalese is not the same thing as making sure that information gets disseminated to citizens in a clear and coherent way. This is how both state and federal government get away with things.
But who is going to pay for these increased services in our schools? We don’t have enough money now to properly service public education. Will this mean more federal grants tied to the Every Student Succeeds Act? Or will we start to see the slow invasion of non-education entities coming into our schools? Is this just Delaware or will other states go through this process? These are burning questions I mean to find the answers to.
Unless the legislators don’t check their state email, they should all know about this by now. I emailed every one of them, along with Governor Markell, Attorney General Matt Denn, DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf, Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky and several others about this today. But this information regarding the regulation and the Medicaid situation I just found out about in the past few hours. In reviewing the FY2017 Budget Proposal by the DSCYF to the Joint Finance Committee this year, this plan wasn’t clearly laid out to the General Assembly. But the timing on this, when these day treatment centers would close, would be after the General Election even though Medicaid stopped reimbursing for these services as of 6/30/16. How many people knew about this? Did John Carney?
I have wondered over the past two years, as I fell deeper into the corporate education reform rabbit hole, how students with disabilities, especially those with the most severe, could ever survive in the upcoming personalized learning/competency-based education world. The answer is becoming very clear: they can’t. I believe the intent is to push them out of public education. To force parents into homeschooling their children with moderate to severe disabilities. The problem becomes the affordability of this. That would mean one parent can’t work a normal 9-5 job. It means less revenue for the state. But these families will still be expected to pay property taxes to pay for our schools. How is that just in any way? I have always spoken out against voucher programs. But if our state wants to force the hand of families of disabled children, perhaps it is time a new conversation started.