Autism Services Advancement Package (ASAP) – SB 92 and 93
Senate Bill #93 passed in both the House and Senate! This bill establishes the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism (DNEA), a statewide resource center for training and technical assistance for those who provide care and education to Delawareans living with ASD. This is a huge step forward in the movement to enhance and improve the lives of all Delawareans who are affected by ASD!
Delaware’s own Jack Markell will be signing this bill into law in a ceremonial event being held at Autism Delaware’s Newark office on Sept. 14th, 2016 at 9am.
Please join us if you can!
If you’re interested in getting involved in autism advocacy, and want to learn more, please contact Autism Delaware’s Public Policy Director Alex Eldreth at 302-224-6020, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unfortunately, Senate Bill #92 did not pass in this past legislative session, but will be re-introduced when the 2017 session begins in January!
What will the Autism Services Advancement Package (SB 92, SB 93) do?
These two bills constitute a package of legislation with two aims:
1. To increase resources available through the Office of the Statewide Director of the Delaware Autism Program so that all schools are provided high quality training and support for teachers and administrators about how to serve children with autism (SB 92)
2. To create the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism so that training and technical assistance from autism professionals is available wherever it is needed across systems – including schools, early intervention, the medical field, social services and family support (SB 93)
How will these bills help Delaware families?
The enhancement of the Office of the Statewide Director of the Delaware Autism Program and the creation of the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism will:
– Make more resources available to all schools so all districts can better serve children with autism
– Make it possible for more children to be appropriately educated in their home districts
– Create a more efficient statewide system of services by bringing together key stakeholders to look for system gaps and recognize duplication, leveraging the best efforts of all professionals and advocates
– Design a true network of autism professionals so that all types of service providers can find high quality training in autism and better serve their clients
– Begin bringing into reality the efforts of the statewide, collaborative planning effort called The Blueprint for Collective Action
Why is this legislation needed?
– The number of children with an educational classification of autism in Delaware has grown from 152 in 1991 to 1,512 today – an 895% increase over 23 years. Our state system of supports has not kept pace with this rapid and alarming increase.
– In fiscal year 2014 there were 142 private placements – students put in residential programs or sent out of state because they couldn’t be served in our schools. That is more than any year in the last decade.
– Individuals with autism and their families need support from throughout our state system, and from private providers. Access to training and technical assistance from autism professionals will help us strengthen available services from medical providers to residential services and beyond.
How will this work?
These two pieces of legislation work together to create a system that supports those affected by autism throughout the state, starting with the schools.
Here’s how it works:
1. The first bill (SB 92) enhances Title 14 so that the Office of the Statewide Director of the Delaware Autism Program can send autism professionals into any school in the state (not just the 6 DAP programs) to support teachers and administrators educating children with autism.
2. The second bill (SB 93) creates the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism (DNEA), which will be centered at the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies. It will work to find experts in all types of autism services throughout the state – hiring them to work directly for the DNEA if they can’t be found elsewhere.
3. The Office of the Statewide Director can contract with the DNEA for the services of different types of autism experts, as they are needed by different schools and in different situations. The Statewide Director will direct the work of these “training and technical assistance teams,” deploying them into school districts throughout the state as they are needed.
4. The DNEA, headed by its own Executive Director, will manage contracts with the Office of the Statewide Director, as well as other state agencies and service providers who may need training and assistance to serve individuals with autism.
5. The Interagency Committee on Autism (ICA) is made up of stakeholders, state agencies and organizations. It serves as an advisory council to the DNEA and meets regularly to assess the work of the Network and review system challenges, concentrating its efforts on filling gaps and avoiding duplications.
How will we fund these efforts?
The legislation proposed includes a multi-tiered funding model that draws dollars from local districts and various state agencies. The dollars are maintained in the state agency, which then contracts with the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism for their specific training and technical assistance needs.
For education, dollars are drawn from each school district to fund staff positions at a rate of 1 for every 100 students. Those dollars go to the Department of Education, which then empowers the Office of the Statewide Director of the Delaware Autism Program to contract with the DNEA for training professionals to send into individual school districts as needed.
We believe the creation of the DNEA can further be funded by dollars saved through the effort. For example: In fiscal year 2014 the state paid a total of $3.1 million dollars to an outside consultant, including $1.7 million for out of state placements. The remaining $1.4 million was spent on consulting services in piecemeal and reactive ways. If it was instead channeled into a coordinated effort of proactive training and technical assistance as offered by the creation of the DNEA, not only would services for students with autism improve, but the state could also potentially realize significant savings.
In general, residential and day program placements are up about 50% from FY09-FY13. Each placement costs between $560-850K.The coordinated efforts of the DNEA could reduce such placements, saving enough money to fund most of the recommendations, as well as improve services and quality of life for all those involved.