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NYSAC Priorities for the 2013/2014 Budget
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) strongly recommends the implementation of the following regulatory and legislative reforms to increase program integrity, improve outcomes for special needs children, and lower the cost of this $2 billion program. New York’s Preschool Special Education Program was enacted in 1989. This program provides essential services to special needs children between the ages of 3 and 5. At its inception, the program cost approximately $96 million annually. Ten years ago, the program was estimated to cost $792 million annually and served approximately 60,000 children. Today, the Preschool Special Education Program is estimated to cost $2 billion annually and serves approximately 75,000 children. Counties continue to support the recommendations of the Temporary Task Force on Preschool Special Education, especially the recommendation that counties be removed from the financing and implementation of this program. NYSAC believes that fundamental reforms are needed now to continue providing these important services in the most efficient and cost effective manner. The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) proposes the following, and urges their inclusion in the 2013-2014 Executive Budget.
Streamline Transportation Allow counties greater input in placement decisions and the provision of transportation services Often a county will pay to transport a single child to a facility chosen without county input, it is these outliers that drive transportation costs Encourage parents to transport their child and provide reimbursement to parent Establish a regional transportation grant to encourage counties to review the feasibility of entering into regional transportation service contracts. Reassess the Preschool Special Education Transportation Trip Rate Counties spend over $90 million transporting preschool special education students each year The State provides counties with a stipend up to a capped amount based on a regional trip rate established by the Division of Budget Once a county exceeds their cap, they are 100% responsible for transportation costs Every year, every county exceeds this cap Establish an Arm’s Length Relationship between the Evaluator and the Provider of Services Eliminate conflicts of interest Comptroller audits have revealed that less-than-arm’s length relationships have resulted in significant fraud, waste, and abuse Establish a Shared Fiscal Incentive Program
NYSAC Contact | Melissa Tiberio
Establish a savings target or cap on an annual basis If spending comes in below the target, school districts and counties would receive a portion of the savings This will encourage counties and school districts to provide quality preschool special education services in a thoughtful and cost-effective manner Permit SEIT Services to be paid on a Fee for Service Basis SEIT services are a tuition based program Payment is made based on the tuition dates assigned on the child’s IEP instead of paying for services actually received For a variety of reasons (ie. Child absence, teacher absence, school vacation) the level of SEIT service a child is entitled to based on their IEP is not always provided A conservative estimate of money spent on SEIT services not delivered is nearly $27,000,000 over 5 years Establish an audit unit in the New York State Education Department (NYSED) New York Times investigative articles and audits by the New York State Comptroller have identified severe program inefficiencies These inefficiencies have cost tax payers tens of millions of dollars annually due to fraud, waste, and abuse NYSED has stated that they are understaffed and unable to perform baseline oversight duties NYSED has also indicated the need for an audit unit to provide more timely audits
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