CDE, DDS resolve dispute risking early intervention money

Officials at two state agencies have set aside a bourgeoning argument over federal reporting requirements, allowing funding to flow for special education services to infants and toddlers with disabilities.

At risk was Special Education Part C Early Start, Early Intervention Grants - specifically the final payments for 2010-11 or the initial apportionment for 2011-12.

But Fred Balcom, director of special education at the California Department of Education, said Wednesday the funds will not be held up and are set for distribution by the state controller.

At issue were new federal regulations governing the use of the Part C money.

Officials at the Department of Developmental Services reported in a brief memo on their website earlier this month that the state was unable to comply with some federal reporting requirements and performance measures because of CDE's unwillingness" to provide essential program data.

The CDE responded with a letter to administrators of the state's Special Education Local Plan Areas disputing the contention. The CDE said that the new federal requirements called for additional data collections and subsequent validation. The CDE noted that because of budget cuts, they did not have the personnel with sufficient expertise to perform the analysis within the timeframe called for by Developmental Services.

It is not clear how the dispute was resolved, but Balcom said the money is on the way.

The program is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and is aimed at enhancing the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities but also at reducing educational costs by minimizing the need for special education through early intervention.

The funds are used to assist states in operating comprehensive early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, ages birth through 2 years, and their families.

The Part C money, about $14 million per year to California, represents only a small share of the more than $400 million in early intervention services spent annually by the CDE and Developmental Services.