Special Education:

Congressional Action Needed to Improve Chapter 1 Handicapped Program

HRD-89-54: Published: May 23, 1989. Publicly Released: May 23, 1989.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program and its relationship to the Education of the Handicapped Act (EHA) Program, focusing on: (1) the extent to which the Department of Education provided guidance to the states to determine eligibility under Chapter 1; (2) whether states implemented programs consistent with congressional intent regarding the transfer of students from state-operated or -supported programs to local public schools; (3) the extent of education that handicapped children received in settings with nonhandicapped children; (4) whether Chapter 1 afforded all handicapped children and their parents the same rights and procedural guarantees as under EHA programs; (5) the specific services provided under Chapter 1 compared with those under EHA programs; and (6) efforts to ensure that all eligible handicapped students received services.

GAO found that: (1) although Congress created the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program to service mostly severely handicapped children in state institutions, neither the legislation nor its implementing regulations specifically limited services to the severely handicapped; (2) because the legislation based program funding on the number of children served, some states served many children with less than severe handicaps and received more than a proportional share of program funds than states that served only more severely handicapped children; (3) 45 states counted less-than-severely handicapped children in preschool programs under their Chapter 1 programs, and 48 percent of the children in the programs who were 5 years old or younger were not severely handicapped; (4) because states often transferred most of the preschool children counted in state-supported programs who had less than severe handicaps to regular schools and continued them in the program indefinitely, the states received higher funding levels than they would have under EHA; (5) two-thirds of the state officials did not consider funding transfer an incentive to deinstitutionalize severely handicapped children; (6) although handicapped children in both programs received the same procedural safeguards to ensure appropriate educational services, services provided to children under Chapter 1 were more frequent and intense than those provided under EHA; and (7) 69 percent of the state program coordinators had no objection to combining the programs because of their similarity, provided that the funding authority for both programs remained separate.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congressional action to implement this recommendation is not expected because of strong opposition.

    Matter: Congress should restructure the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program to better ensure that states focus program services on severely handicapped children by requiring that Chapter 1 Handicapped Program funds be used to serve only severely handicapped children (as identified by each state) in state facilities and public schools.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congressional action to implement this recommendation is not expected because of strong opposition.

    Matter: Congress should restructure the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program to better ensure that states focus program services on severely handicapped children by eliminating the funding transfer provision contained in the Education Amendments of 1974.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congressional action to implement this recommendation is not expected because of strong opposition.

    Matter: Congress should restructure the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program to better ensure that states focus program services on severely handicapped children by allocating program funds to states on the basis of their percentage of the nation's total handicapped children counted in the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program and part B of EHA programs.

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congressional action to implement this recommendation is not expected because of strong opposition.

    Matter: Congress should enact legislation to combine the Chapter 1 Handicapped and EHA programs. If the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program is merged under the EHA program, Congress should also consider a separate Chapter 1 Handicapped funding set-aside for the states to use to serve only severely handicapped students.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congressional action to implement this recommendation is not expected because of strong opposition.

    Recommendation: If Congress implements the recommendations for refocusing the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program on severely handicapped children, the Secretary of Education should eliminate from program regulations the provision requiring that each child counted under the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program must receive some benefit from program funds.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

 

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