The Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB) is seeking a restoration in funding in the FY2017-2018 state budget for services to children who are blind or visually impaired.
Direct intervention services from Lighthouse and other FAASB agencies provide critical supplemental skills to the core academic curriculum received by children through the public school system. This expanded core curriculum reflects best practice educational standards for children with vision impairment and blindness, and it has been determined necessary to support their ability to succeed in school, to live with greater function and independence in daily life, and prepare for family and community life.
Right now there is a six-year gap between children exiting vision-specific early-intervention programs and the start of teen transition programs. That is simply too long to allow these children the missed opportunity to build relationships and receive the critical expanded core curriculum training that will support their ability to succeed in school and function with greater independence.
REQUEST FOR CONSIDERATION
First Year Budget, FY 15 – 16: $1,000,000 ($500,000 RECURRING)
Current Budget for Children FY 16 - 17: $750,000 ($500,000 RECURRING)
Proposed Budget Total FY 17 - 18: $1,000,000 ($500,000 RECURRING)*
# of Students to be served state-wide: About 200
Value and Outcomes:
• Children improve functional life skills (communication, reading comprehension, writing, safe travel, personal care, cooking, etc.), safe travel techniques, reading/writing skills, and social skills and parents increase their knowledge of community resources, advocacy skills, and reduce their frustration/stress.
• The schools are not able to provide this expanded curriculum due to the lack of time and the need to focus on academics; FAASB agencies can, and do, provide expanded core curriculum plus academic support.
• The program was new in January 2016. It should be noted however, that in the Children’s Programs operated by three of the FAASB members over a longer period of time, where children enter and complete a subsequent program for teens, virtually 100% of the teens graduate high school and go on to Vocational School or College.
• In 2015-2016, the first year, FAASB service members provided 13,018 hours to 190 students across the state.
The requested increase would restore the funding to its original level at Year One. Second year funding was cut because the first year startup was delayed while the process moved through DOE. The American Printing House, which conducts an annual survey of visually impaired children enrolled in public school, shows there is greater need in Florida, with an estimated 2,500 children who are blind/visually impaired in public schools.
FAASB wishes to ensure that these children benefit from the evidence-based National Expanded Core Curriculum they require.