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Funding Woes Found To Hamper Services to Disabled Preschoolers

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Copyright 1988 States have been moving to provide special-education services to children under age 5 since 1986, when the Congress approved financial incentives for them to do so.

The survey, conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, found that 23 of the 52 officials responding were concerned about finding adequate funding for their efforts.

They cited such potential problems as funding cuts for preschool-age children if federal aid fell below authorized levels, and a lack of money for children who are too old to qualify for infant-and-toddler programs but too young to be served in preschool programs.

Twenty officials said they sometimes had difficulties collaborating with other agencies. Maintaining program compatibility and continuity is difficult, they said, even though 31 states reported having working agreements with their4Head Start programs and several said they had arrangements with other state health and human-services agencies.

The officials said they had often run into interagency problems in cases where preschool services were traditionally provided by another agency. They also cited the difficulty of promoting collaboration between local agencies.

Sixteen officals said they had problems locating qualified personnel to staff their programs.

State Age Standards

The study found that 22 states, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs now offer special-education services to children age 3 or younger.

Three states offer such services to all handicapped children beginning at age 4, while 18 states and the Northern Mariana Islands offer programs for all handicapped 5-year-olds, the survey reported.

Seven states begin special-education services for all handicapped children at age 6, it noted.--ef

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