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Grants Aid Preschool Efforts

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Though the states initiate, plan, and assess early-intervention programs for the handicapped, the federal government pays some of the operating costs.

In 1983-84--the latest year for which Education Department figures are available--some 243,087 children nationwide between the ages of 3 and 5 were enrolled in special-education services receiving approximately $96 million in federal funds--or $395 per child.

The federal money, provided under the broad mandate of P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, came from the following specific programs:

Incentive Grants, created in 1975 as part of eha-b, make funds available to state education agencies for the establishment of programs for handicapped children ages 3 to 5. The age requirement was extended to include children from birth through age 2 in the Education of the Handicapped Amendments of 1983.

Funding for the grants program has increased from $12.5 million in fiscal 1978 to $26.3 million in fiscal 1984. In fiscal 1983, an estimated 228,000 children were served.

The Handicapped Early Education Program, authorized by Section 623 of eha-c, was established in 1968 to support experimental demonstrations of "innovative and effective" strategies for serving preschool handicapped children and their families.

Projects financed through the program have developed more4than 3,000 products to help local agencies implement preschool programs. In addition, replications of the projects at the local level are estimated to have increased the impact of the of the original investment sixfold.

The program received $17.5 million in funding in fiscal 1981 and $16.8 million in fiscal 1983.

The State Implementation Grants and Early Childhood State Grants programs. The sig program, established in 1976, has awarded grants to 43 states and territories to help plan and coordinate comprehensive preschool service-delivery systems. It was replaced, in the Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments of 1983, P.L. 98-199, with the Early Childhood State Grant Program.

Under the latter, grants are authorized through the state education department or another state agency to help in the planning, development, and implementation of services for handicapped children from birth to age 5. In 1985, all 50 states were awarded grants.

P.L. 89-313 Funds are used in some states--where preschool children are not covered by a special-education mandate--to improve the quality of early-intervention services and to extend service delivery.

eha-b State Grant Program Set-Aside Funds have been used by at least 18 states in the last two years to expand preschool services under the eha-b state grant program.--ab

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