Federal Direction Needed for Educating Handicapped Children in State Schools

HRD-78-6: Published: Mar 16, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 1978.

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The Public Law 89-313 program was enacted in 1965 to make available federal funds to supplement limited state efforts in providing special educational services for institutionalized handicapped children. Because of changes in federal and state laws and advances in educational techniques and concepts, considerable confusion and conflict has arisen among program participants on what the federal program is intended to accomplish and the respective roles of federal and state governments in supporting education for the handicapped in state-operated and state-supported schools.

A basic structural question exists: whether the 89-313 program should continue as basic, relatively unrestricted support or be directed to provide a stimulus to states to increase their resources for educating institutionalized handicapped children. Targeting funds to a limited number of eligible children was originally permissable, but the enactment of Public Law 93-380 changed the concept by requiring that all children counted for 89-313 funding receive some benefit from that funding. Targeting is still taking place to a significant degree. Management of the 89-313 program at the federal level has been fragmented, limited, and complicated, and its visibility for congressional review and analysis has been severely restricted. Congress needs to clarify the direction of the program and the degree to which funds may be allocated within a state.

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