By Max Bomber
The Interim Study Committee on Education discussed expanding funding for special education in schools on Tuesday afternoon and the group said it would take about $4 million to do it right.
“A handful of kids, which kind of fall through the cracks that are in preschool that are categorized as developmentally delayed and because of the way our state bills work that categorization cannot be used once they reach kindergarten,” said Sen. Pete Miller R-Avon,” I hoped it was in this year’s budget, but it was put on the backburner.”
A child is considered to have a development delay if they have not reached certain developmental milestones by the time they are expected to and it significantly affects the child’s performance in the classroom. Students can have delays in five various areas: self-help skills and adaptive behavior, motor problems, cognitive development, receptive or expressive language and social or emotional.
“It loses impact when the rug is pulled from underneath them,” said Jennifer Dezarn-Lynch Preschool coordinator with the Brownsburg early childhood center- a facility that supports children in their early childhood with special needs.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Department of Education say children can experience developmental delays at anytime between birth and age eight. However, Indiana law only acknowledges and funds special help for kids suffering from developmental delays when they are between the ages of three and five.
“The discrepancy causes concerns amongst early childhood educators,” Dezarn-Lynch said, “because we know that a child may qualify for special education services in a preschool realm and then not qualify when they hit kindergarten based on the qualification.”
There is a gap between when children are diagnosed with a learning disability, “that puts them in a situation where they are expected to fail before they receive proper help,” Dezarn-Lynch said.
About 2.5 percent, or 18,000, preschool children in Indiana fall into the category of developmentally delayed.
Max Bomber is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.