State News Roundup

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A position statement adopted last month by the Connecticut state school board calls for blending special-education services and regular education into "a unified and coordinated system of education'' for all students.

The statement resulted from a series of statewide conferences, begun almost two years ago, on the future of special education in the state.

The document also maintains that disabled students should meet the same educational goals as their nondisabled counterparts. It calls for reducing the regulatory burdens of special education for schools, and it encourages schools, whenever possible, to teach students with disabilities in their neighborhood schools.

The statement stops just short, however, of calling for "full inclusion'' of disabled students, as some advocates for the disabled in the state had hoped.

"It sets a policy direction that is positive to the issue of including students with disabilities in regular-education settings,'' said Thomas Gillung, the state director of special education. "But it also recognizes that there are some students who might not necessarily benefit at that particular point in their lives from a regular-education program.''

A Massachusetts program that provides day care and other services to teenage parents has helped substantial numbers of participants complete their education and stay off the welfare rolls, a new study concludes.

The study by the Alliance for Young Families, a nonprofit group in Boston, is said to be the first analysis of a statewide effort to provide day care for teenage parents.

Services to Teen Parents and their Children, launched in Massachusetts in 1988, provides child care and such services as transportation, case management, counseling, and parent education to about 750 teenage parents in the state. The slots are funded by the state social-services department under contract with nonprofit agencies in schools or community sites and supplemented with federal and other aid.

The study says that about 80 percent of the teenage mothers in the state who do not receive such services drop out of school and that 69 percent go on welfare before their child's fourth birthday.

In contrast, it says, 80 percent of the program's participants complete high school, and more than 65 percent "will earn incomes above the poverty line without public assistance.''

Teenage parents served by the day-care program are also less than half as likely as their peers to have a repeat pregnancy while in their teens, the study found.

The report, which estimates that taxpayers save $30,000 in welfare, neonatal intensive-care, Medicaid, and other costs for each mother in the program, says the results justify its expansion in Massachusetts and its replication elsewhere.

Copies of the report, "Teen Parent Day Care in Massachusetts: Helping Young Families Help Themselves,'' are available free from the Alliance for Young Families, 30 Winter St., 11th Floor, Boston, Mass. 02108.

Vol. 12, Issue 16

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