"We can't fail the kids that benefit from these services,"
Blagojevich said. "These programs offer help that local school
districts just can't provide. They have proven track records of
helping children with unique learning needs. We won't turn our backs
on the needs of special education students and their families. We
have to step in and do the right thing."
Earlier this year a lack
of available federal funds under the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act Part B threatened the fiscal 2006 funding for these
programs. A number of factors contributed to this situation,
including restrictions in Illinois law that limit the state's
ability to access federal funds used to support these programs. When
the governor learned of this situation, he worked with the General
Assembly to lift the state restrictions on the state board's access
to federal IDEA Part B funds. The changes are made by
Senate Bill 1815, which has passed the General Assembly and will
be signed into law by the governor.
"Along with Governor Blagojevich, we feel strongly that we must
continue funding for these effective programs," said Randy Dunn,
state schools superintendent. "When we first learned that their
funding was at risk for next year, we were anxious to find a way to
help them. We heard a clear message from parents, grandparents and
educators around the state that their children desperately need
these programs. We thank the governor for working with us to restore
support for these services."
The State Board of Education announced
the proposed fiscal 2006 allocations for its federal IDEA Part B
discretionary grants, which included restored funding for the
- Illinois Service Resource Center -- Center on Deafness,
- Illinois Autism Training and Technical Assistance Project,
- Assistive Technology Exchange Network -- United Cerebral
- Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities Positive Behavior
Interventions and Supports Network, $3,258,000
- Project CHOICES, $800,000
- Project HEAR, Illinois School for the Deaf, $50,000
"We are very thankful that funding has been restored to the
Illinois Service Resource Center," said Cheri Sinnott, director of
the center. "We were very impressed with the response from the
governor's office and the legislators we met with across the state.
The governor and the legislators recognized that our agency meets an
important need and that this would be a loss to the students who are
deaf, their parents and teachers, and we appreciate their efforts to
turn this around."
The Illinois Service Resource Center is the coordination
center for a wide variety of services tailored specifically for
children who are deaf or hard of hearing and exhibit behavioral,
emotional or mental health challenges. These services are available
for Illinois students, parents and professionals. The center
provides training to individuals who wish to serve as family
liaisons and facilitate parental training groups. The center
maintains an interactive online message board for questions and
answers regarding specific behavioral concerns and publishes a
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The Illinois Autism Training and Technical Assistance Project
provides on-site consultation, training and technical assistance to
support the needs of children with autism and their families.
Activities include intensive support and training for teams
comprised of families, school personnel and community providers, as
well as Web-based training for professionals working with students
The Assistive Technology Exchange Network
seeks used technology items from private donors for transfer to
Illinois schools serving children with disabilities. The network
carefully matches the needs with the equipment available and checks
and refurbishes the equipment as needed before sending it to the
schools. As of March 2005, the network had distributed 28,228
computer systems and several thousand printers, touch screens,
software packages and other items to schools throughout the state.
The Assistive Technology Exchange Network has served 1,823 schools
in 642 Illinois communities.
The Emotional and Behavioral
Disabilities Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Network
builds the capacity of schools, families and communities to promote
the social and academic success of all students, including those
with emotional-behavioral and other disabilities. Services include:
- Wraparound planning for students with emotional-behavioral
disabilities and their families.
- Community-based supports for families, youth and schools.
- Prevention-based, schoolwide systems of positive behavior
- Data-based decision-making for instruction in behavior and
Project CHOICES is a least restrictive environment initiative
that supports school-age children, and Early CHOICES supports
preschool-age children. The purpose of the initiatives is to
increase the capacities of school districts and educational
personnel to educate and provide support and services to children
and youth with disabilities in the preschool, school and community
Project HEAR provides districts with training and technical
assistance to help them serve the needs of children who are deaf or
hard of hearing. In the coming year, the program will focus on
training for educational interpreters who work with students who are
deaf, in order to help the professionals meet the requirements
established by new standards.
[News release from the