The final report from the workgroup that was tasked with examining the use of Children’s Services Act (CSA) funding to support special education needs was released on December 6. Although the stakeholder workgroup adopted a set of recommendations at its final meeting on October 14, these recommendations were subject to review by the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Secretary of Education. Secretary Littel and Secretary Guidera transmitted the workgroup’s recommendations with a cover letter indicating that the Administration does not intend to pursue several workgroup proposals at this time, notably the recommendation to transfer CSA private day school and residential placement funding to the Department of Education.
As reported in an earlier edition of County Connections, the workgroup adopted several recommendations on October 14, as summarized below. The Administration’s response to these proposals is also included below:
- On a divided vote, the workgroup recommended the transfer of funding and oversight responsibility for private special education day school and residential facility placements from the Office of Children’s Services to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), effective July 1, 2024. The workgroup recommended the retention of funding and administrative responsibility for special education wraparound services within the Office of Children’s Services and local CSA programs (these services support children’s needs that extend beyond the school day and are funded by a capped allocation in the state budget). Secretary Littel and Secretary Guidera underscored the Administration’s commitment to improving coordination between the Office of Children’s Services and the Department of Education, but stated that the Administration does not recommend the transfer of funding and oversight of the program to VDOE at this time, “[g]iven the lack of a strong consensus that a transfer to VDOE would improve administration or outcomes or reduce costs.”
- The workgroup recommended against any further use of CSA funds to pay for services within public schools beyond the transitional services that were allowed to be funded through CSA in legislation passed in 2021. However, the workgroup supported enhancing the ability of public schools to serve children with higher-level needs through the creation of a pool of funds within VDOE that would support students in remaining in public schools. Secretary Littel and Secretary Guidera indicated agreement with the recommendation against further expansion of CSA funding for services within public schools, but also expressed reluctance to establish a new pool of funds at this time, noting that there is not enough information on the “need, scope, use, and cost” of such a pool of funds, and that there has been “insufficient exploration of all potential solutions, including solutions pursued in other states.”
- The workgroup recommended continued data collection on the CSA-funded transitional services for students returning to public school from private placements, as these services were recently allowed to be funded through CSA. Secretary Littel and Secretary Guidera indicated agreement with this recommended approach.
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle