MAINE: 2,500 disabled 3 to 5 year olds not receiving SPED services

Sept 18, 2017, WGME-TV, Portland, ME: Gov. LePage wants schools to take over special ed services for preschool kids The LePage administration wants local school districts to start providing special education services for about 2,500 3- to 5-year-olds with disabilities and developmental delays who currently receive the support through a $39 million state program. Under a bill the Maine Department of Education plans for next year’s legislative session, the state’s Child Development Services program would eventually stop providing services such as speech and occupational therapy, psychological services and others to young children with disabilities, autism or other needs that, left unaddressed, could grow into more significant problems once they reach school. School districts would have to add to their existing special education programs to serve the 3- to 5-year-olds, while the state would retain the responsibility of serving infants and toddlers. Maine is among the only states where school districts don’t provide special education services to children once they reach age 3, so the change would bring Maine more into the national mainstream. But it would be the first time Maine public schools would have this responsibility, raising major questions for local districts that currently lack the staff and, often, the space needed to serve a new population of kids.