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AB-126 Special education programs: Family Empowerment Centers on Disability.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 04/05/2021 09:00 PM
AB126:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 05, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 16, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 126


Introduced by Assembly Members Eduardo Garcia, O’Donnell, and Quirk
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Villapudua)(Coauthors: Assembly Members Cervantes, Villapudua, and Quirk-Silva)

December 18, 2020


An act to amend Sections 56400, 56402, 56406, 56408, and 56410 of, to add Section 56411 Sections 56411 and 56844.5 to, and to repeal and add Section 56415 of, the Education Code, relating to special education programs.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 126, as amended, Eduardo Garcia. Special education programs: Family Empowerment Centers on Disability and Early Start Family Resource Centers. Disability.
Existing law requires the State Department of Education to award grants for the establishment of Family Empowerment Centers on Disability in 32 regions in the state to provide training and services to children and young adults with disabilities and their families. Existing law establishes a minimum base rate of $150,000 for each center awarded a grant and requires a center that receives a grant to complete specified actions related to providing that training and those services. Existing law establishes a Family Empowerment and Disability Council composed of the executive directors of the centers and certain other members, establishes a base amount of $150,000 to be made available annually to the council, and requires the council to, among other actions, develop a uniform tracking and data collection system to be used by each center.
This bill would revise and recast the provisions related to Family Empowerment Centers on Disability, including requiring the department to award grants by March 1, 2022, to applicants in those of the 32 regions in the state that do not have a center and to give priority to applicants operating as Early Start Family Resource Centers, certain applicants, increasing the minimum base rate for each center awarded a grant from $150,000 to $246,000 commencing on July 1, 2021, and, commencing with the 2022–23 fiscal year, providing for an annual cost-of-living adjustment of the grant amount, as specified. The bill would also increase the base amount to be made available annually to the council from $150,000 to $246,000. The bill would impose additional requirements on centers grantees as a condition of receiving a grant and would require the department, among other actions, to, on or before June 30, 2022, develop a data collection template for use by centers grantees and provide guidance to centers grantees on how to define and report data.
This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation that would appropriate require, subject to an appropriation for this purpose, the department to award $20,000,000 from the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief II Fund to the department to award grants to Family Empowerment Centers on Disability and Early Start Family Resource Centers, certain applicants, as specified. The bill would require centers grantees to spend at least 50% of the funds to work in partnership with one or more special education local plan areas to broaden access to alternative dispute resolution, facilitate including, but not limited to, facilitation of the individualized education program processes, process, and train additional individuals to conduct these activities. The bill would require centers grantees to use remaining funds to avert disputes and support resolution of conflict at the lowest level possible, as specified. The bill would impose certain duties on the department relating to these grants.
This bill would make implementation of the bill’s provisions contingent upon an appropriation being made in the annual Budget Act or another statute for its purposes.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 56400 of the Education Code is amended to read:

56400.
 It is the intent of the Legislature, through enactment of this chapter and as required by state and federal law, to do all of the following:
(a) Ensure that children and young adults with disabilities are provided a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible in accordance with their needs and capabilities and applicable federal and state law and regulations.
(b) Ensure that children and young adults with disabilities receive the necessary educational support and services they need to complete their education.
(c) Offer parents and families of children and young adults with disabilities access to accurate information, specialized training, and peer-to-peer support in their communities.
(d) Ensure that parents and families of children and young adults with disabilities are full participants in their child’s education, school reform, and comprehensive systems change efforts.
(e) Build upon existing local and regional service delivery systems to improve, expand, and offer coordinated technical assistance to the network of existing resources available for parents and families of children and young adults with disabilities.

SEC. 2.

 Section 56402 of the Education Code is amended to read:

56402.
 (a) The department shall award grants to establish Family Empowerment Centers on Disability in each of the 32 regions in the state established under the Early Start Family Resource Centers. In the first year of operation, the department shall award these grants no later than February 15, 2002. In subsequent years, to the extent funding is available, the department shall award these grants no later than February 15 of that year, except as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b).
(b) (1) The department shall, by March 1, 2022, award grants to establish new Family Empowerment Centers on Disability in the regions in the state established under the Early Start Family Resource Centers that do not have a Family Empowerment Center on Disability.
(2) In making awards pursuant to this subdivision, the Superintendent shall give priority to applicants operating as Early Start Family Resource Centers in order to promote continuity of service to families, and that are able to ensure continuity of support for families transitioning from services under Part C to Part B of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.), either because the applicant operates a program of family support for parents of children with disabilities up to three years of age, or the applicant works in close partnership with an organization that does so, and shall take into consideration the capacity of applicants to carry out the activities specified in Section 56408.
(c) Once funding is secured, and annually until all centers are established, the department shall submit a report to the appropriate policy and fiscal committees of the Legislature documenting progress in establishing new centers pursuant to this section.
(d) The department shall develop the grant application, with advice from stakeholders, including parents and family members of children with disabilities, adults with disabilities, the Advisory Commission on Special Education, and representatives of community agencies serving children and adults with disabilities.
(e) The sum of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) shall be made available to the department, from the funds appropriated for purposes of this chapter, for the purpose of securing an outside contractor to develop a request for proposal, disseminate the proposal, empanel readers to evaluate the proposals, and cover other costs related to this process.

SEC. 3.

 Section 56406 of the Education Code is amended to read:

56406.
 (a) The department shall issue requests for proposals, select grantees, and award grants pursuant to this chapter. Until the start of the fiscal year after a Family Empowerment Center on Disability has been established in each of the 32 regions established under the Early Start Family Resource Centers, grants awarded to Family Empowerment Centers on Disability by the department shall be based upon a formula that does both of the following:
(1) Establishes a minimum base rate of one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) for each center to provide the basic services pursuant to this chapter and serve parents and families of children and young adults 3 to 18 years of age, inclusive, and young adults 19 to 22 years of age, inclusive, who had an individualized education program before their 18th birthday.
(2) Establishes an allocation mechanism that is determined according to school enrollment of the region served.
(b) Commencing on July 1, 2021, grants awarded to Family Empowerment Centers on Disability by the department shall be based upon a formula that does both of the following:
(1) Establishes a minimum base rate of two hundred forty-six thousand dollars ($246,000) for each center to provide the basic services pursuant to this chapter and serve parents and families of children and young adults 3 to 18 years of age, inclusive, and young adults 19 to 22 years of age, inclusive, who had an individualized education program before their 18th birthday.
(2) Establishes an allocation mechanism that is determined according to school enrollment of the region served.
(c) Commencing with the 2022–23 fiscal year, the funding that is determined based on school enrollment of the region served shall be annually increased using the cost-of-living adjustment specified in paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) of Section 42238.02.
(d) Each grant applicant shall demonstrate all of the following:
(1) That the need for training and information for underserved parents and families of children and young adults with disabilities in the area to be served will be effectively met.
(2) That services will be delivered in a manner that accomplishes all of the following:
(A) All families have access to services regardless of cultural, linguistic, geographical, socioeconomic, or other similar barriers.
(B) Services are provided in accordance with families’ linguistic and cultural preferences and needs.
(C) Services are coordinated with the existing family support organizations within the region.
(D) Promotes positive parent and professional collaboration with local educational agencies, special education local plan areas, and other community agencies.

SEC. 4.

 Section 56408 of the Education Code is amended to read:

56408.
 (a) As a condition of receipt of funds, each Family Empowerment Center on Disability that receives assistance under this chapter and serves the parents and families of children and young adults 3 to 18 years of age, inclusive, and young adults 19 to 22 years of age, inclusive, who had an individualized education program before their 18th birthday shall do all of the following:
(1) Provide training and information that meets the training and information needs of parents and families of children and young adults with disabilities living in the area served by the center, particularly those families and individuals who have been underserved.
(2) Work with community-based organizations, including community advisory committees established pursuant to Article 7 (commencing with Section 56190) of Chapter 2, and state and local agencies serving children with disabilities.
(3) Train and support parents and families of children and young adults with disabilities to do the following:
(A) Better understand the nature of their children’s disabilities and their children’s educational and developmental needs, including the benefits of inclusion in a least restrictive educational environment.
(B) Communicate effectively with personnel responsible for providing special education, early intervention, and related services.
(C) Serve as a resource to parents and families in decisionmaking processes and the development of individualized education programs.
(D) Obtain appropriate information regarding the range of options, programs, services, and resources available to assist children and young adults with disabilities and their families.
(E) Participate in school improvement and reform activities.
(F) Advocate for the child’s needs in a manner that promotes alternative forms of dispute resolution and positive relationships between parents and professionals.
(4) Subject to the availability of resources and upon parental request, attend individualized education program development meetings that include parents and personnel responsible for assessing pupil eligibility for special education and early intervention services.
(5) Submit data annually, in accordance with the data template established by the department pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 56411, no later than a date selected by the Superintendent. The Superintendent shall select this date by June 30, 2023.
(b) (1) Following the initial awarding of a grant to a Family Empowerment Center on Disability, the department shall assess the center’s eligibility for continued funding, at a minimum, as follows:
(A) For a Family Empowerment Center on Disability established during or after the 2020–21 fiscal year, the department shall assess the center’s eligibility every five years after the center is established.
(B) For a Family Empowerment Center on Disability established before the 2020–21 fiscal year, the department shall assess the center’s eligibility during the 2023–24 fiscal year and every five years thereafter.
(2) Assessments conducted pursuant to this subdivision shall be based on a Family Empowerment Center on Disability’s demonstrated ability to meet the requirements of subdivision (a).

SEC. 5.

 Section 56410 of the Education Code is amended to read:

56410.
 A statewide Family Empowerment and Disability Council, composed of the executive directors for the Family Empowerment Centers on Disability, shall be established. Membership on the Family Empowerment and Disability Council may also include the executive director or representative from the Early Start Family Resource Centers, funded by the State Department of Developmental Services, and from the parent centers funded by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.). The department shall contract with an outside entity experienced with developing a statewide technical assistance disability network. A base amount of two hundred forty-six thousand dollars ($246,000) shall be made available, from the annual appropriation made for the Family Empowerment Centers on Disability, to support the work of the council. The Family Empowerment and Disability Council shall, at a minimum, do all of the following:
(a) Provide central coordination of training and information dissemination, content, and materials for Family Empowerment Centers on Disability.
(b) Develop a technical assistance system and activities in accordance with a plan developed in conjunction with the directors of the Family Empowerment Centers on Disability.
(c) Ensure that an outside entity provides assistance in developing a statewide technical assistance disability network, and performs an annual, independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the services provided by Family Empowerment Centers on Disability that shall include, but is not limited to, an evaluation of the data points listed in subdivision (b) of Section 56411. The goal shall be to improve center management, parental satisfaction with the services received, and the quality and effectiveness of services delivered.
(d) Assist each center to build its capacity to serve its geographic region.
(e) Conduct media outreach and other public education efforts to promote the goals of the Family Empowerment Centers on Disability.
(f) Support and participate with the department in activities aligned with improvement activities within the statewide system of support established pursuant to Section 52059.5.

SEC. 6.

 Section 56411 is added to the Education Code, to read:

56411.
 (a) The department, on or before June 30, 2022, shall develop or update a uniform and coordinated tracking and data collection system, and establish or update outcome-based evaluation procedures and processes, for use by Family Empowerment Centers on Disability to demonstrate the centers’ ability to meet the requirements of Section 56408. The tracking and data collection system shall not be duplicative of, and shall interface with, existing special education data systems.
(b) The department, on or before June 30, 2022, shall develop a data collection template for use by Family Empowerment Centers on Disability that shall include, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) The number of parent and family trainings provided by the center, including, but not limited to, trainings on individualized education programs and least restrictive educational environments.
(2) The number of individualized education program meetings attended by personnel of a center.
(3) The disability categories of children and young adults served by the center.
(4) Demographic information, including the preferred language, of families served by the center.
(5) The nature of disagreements between parents and schools or school districts, and the manner in which these disagreements were resolved with the assistance of the center.
(6) Parental satisfaction with services provided by the center.
(c) The department shall provide guidance to Family Empowerment Centers on Disability on how to define and report data for purposes of this section.
(d) The department shall consult with the Family Empowerment and Disability Council on the development of the data collection template.

SEC. 7.

 Section 56415 of the Education Code is repealed.

SEC. 8.

 Section 56415 is added to the Education Code, to read:

56415.
 On or before June 30, 2023, the department shall do both of the following:
(a) Inform parents of children with disabilities of the availability of Family Empowerment Centers on Disability services by including in its notice of procedural safeguards information on the purpose of the centers and the web address of its internet website that lists contact information for the centers.
(b) Include the information described in subdivision (a) on all of the department’s translated versions of its notice of procedural safeguards and on a sample notice of procedural safeguards that it shall maintain on its internet website.

SEC. 9.

(a)It is the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation that would appropriate the sum of twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) from the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief II Fund to the State Department of Education to award grants to Family Empowerment Centers on Disability and Early Start Family Resource Centers, as specified in this section, for expenditure through September 30, 2023.

(b)(1)Upon an appropriation by the Legislature as described in subdivision (a), the State Department of Education shall award grants to Family Empowerment Centers on Disability for the purpose of supporting families of pupils with disabilities, whose education is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a timely, efficient, and equitable manner by increasing family access to alternative dispute resolution, facilitating individualized education program meetings, and other supports to families, particularly families who face language and other barriers to full participation in their child’s education.

(2)The State Department of Education shall award grants to Early Start Family Resource Centers operated through the State Department of Developmental Services in the regions in the state established under the Early Start Family Resource Centers that do not have Family Empowerment Centers on Disability as of January 1, 2021.

(c)Grants awarded to Family Empowerment Centers on Disability and Early Start Family Resource Centers pursuant to subdivision (b) by the State Department of Education shall be based on school enrollment of the regions served by the center and shall be consistent with the allocation mechanism established by Section 56406 of the Education Code.

(d)A Family Empowerment Center on Disability or an Early Start Family Resource Center awarded a grant pursuant to this section shall do all of the following:

(1)Use the grant to serve parents and families of children and young adults 3 to 18 years of age, inclusive, and young adults 19 to 22 years of age, inclusive, who had an individualized education program before their 18th birthday.

(2)Spend the funds in the following manner:

(A)At least 50 percent of the funds shall be used to work in partnership with one or more special education local plan areas in the region served by the center to broaden access to alternative dispute resolution, facilitate the individualized education program process, and train additional individuals to conduct these activities, with a particular focus on serving families that face language and other barriers to full participation. Alternative dispute resolution and facilitation of individualized education program meetings may be conducted in partnership with special education local plan areas or independently.

(B)The remaining funds shall be used to avert disputes and support conflict resolution at the lowest level possible, by providing any of the following:

(i)Parent-to-parent support and training relating to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education of pupils with disabilities.

(ii)Support to local educational agencies in fulfilling their responsibilities relating to the child find mandate under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.) and implementing reengagement strategies developed pursuant to Section 43504 of the Education Code for pupils with disabilities.

(iii)Language access support, including interpretation and translation of written materials, to parents, that is additional to language access support required to be provided by local educational agencies.

(iv)Referrals to parents for services, such as support for pupil and family needs, respite services, physical and mental health services, and other necessary services depending on family circumstances.

(v)Assistance to parents in accessing support through other programs, such as the Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and programs administered by the State Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Rehabilitation.

(3)Submit the following documents to the State Department of Education:

(A)A plan summarizing how the funding received pursuant to this section will be spent.

(B)Evidence of a partnership with at least one special education local plan area, located in the region served by the center, that operates an alternative dispute resolution program.

(C)Until funding received pursuant to this section is exhausted, an annual report detailing the number of families served, including through alternative dispute resolution and individualized education program facilitation, the demographics of the pupils served, and the services provided.

(e)In awarding funding pursuant to this section, the State Department of Education shall do all of the following:

(1)Announce and post criteria for grants on its internet website within 90 days of the enactment of the act that adds this section, and award grants within 150 days of the enactment of the act that adds this section.

(2)Establish standard metrics to ensure consistency in data collection.

(3)Fulfill any reporting requirements associated with the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief II Fund.

(4)Until the funds described in subdivision (a) are exhausted, and notwithstanding Section 10231.5 of the Government Code, submit an annual report summarizing these activities, including the information received pursuant to subparagraph (C) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (d), to the appropriate fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature.

SEC. 9.

 Section 56844.5 is added to the Education Code, to read:

56844.5.
 (a) Subject to an appropriation for this purpose, the department shall award the sum of twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) from the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief II Fund to the department to award grants, as specified in this section, for expenditure through September 30, 2023.
(b) (1) Upon an appropriation by the Legislature as described in subdivision (a), the department shall award grants to Family Empowerment Centers on Disability for the purpose of supporting families of pupils with disabilities, whose education has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a timely, efficient, and equitable manner by increasing family access to alternative dispute resolution, including, but not limited to, facilitation of individualized education program meetings, and other supports to families, particularly families who face language and other barriers to full participation in their child’s education.
(2) For the regions in the state established under the Early Start Family Resource Centers that do not have Family Empowerment Centers on Disability as of January 1, 2021, the department shall award grants to applicants that are able to ensure continuity of support for families transitioning from services under Part C to Part B of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.), either because the applicant operates a program of family support for parents of children with disabilities up to three years of age, or the applicant works in close partnership with an organization that does so.
(c) Grants awarded pursuant to subdivision (b) by the department shall be based on school enrollment of the regions served by the center and shall be consistent with the allocation mechanism established by Section 56406.
(d) A grantee selected pursuant to this section shall do all of the following:
(1) Use the grant to serve parents and families of children and young adults 3 to 18 years of age, inclusive, and young adults 19 to 22 years of age, inclusive, who had an individualized education program before their 18th birthday.
(2) Spend the funds in the following manner:
(A) At least 50 percent of the funds shall be used to work in partnership with one or more special education local plan areas in the region served by the center to broaden access to alternative dispute resolution, including facilitation of the individualized education program process, and train additional individuals to conduct these activities, with a particular focus on serving families that face language and other barriers to full participation. Alternative dispute resolution, including, but not limited to, facilitation of individualized education program meetings, may be conducted in partnership with special education local plan areas or independently, and shall promote positive relationships between parents and professionals.
(B) The remaining funds shall be used to avert disputes and support conflict resolution at the lowest level possible, by providing any of the following:
(i) Parent-to-parent support and training relating to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education of pupils with disabilities.
(ii) Support to local educational agencies in fulfilling their responsibilities relating to the child find mandate under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.) and implementing reengagement strategies developed pursuant to Section 43504 for pupils with disabilities.
(iii) Language access support, including interpretation and translation of written materials, to parents, that is additional to language access support required to be provided by local educational agencies.
(iv) Referrals to parents for services, such as support for pupil and family needs, respite services, physical and mental health services, and other necessary services depending on family circumstances.
(v) Assistance to parents in accessing support through other programs, such as the Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and programs administered by the State Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Rehabilitation.
(3) Submit the following documents to the department:
(A) A plan summarizing how the funding received pursuant to this section will be spent.
(B) Evidence of a partnership with at least one special education local plan area, located in the region served by the center, that operates an alternative dispute resolution program.
(C) Until funding received pursuant to this section is exhausted, an annual report detailing the number of families served, including through alternative dispute resolution, including, but not limited to, facilitation of individualized education program meetings, the demographics of the pupils served, including, but not limited to, the pupil’s disability, family income, English learner classification, and the parent’s primary language, and the services provided.
(e) In awarding funding pursuant to this section, the department shall do all of the following:
(1) Announce and post criteria for grants on its internet website within 90 days of the enactment of the act that adds this section, and award grants within 150 days of the enactment of the act that adds this section.
(2) Establish standard metrics to ensure consistency in data collection.
(3) Fulfill any reporting requirements associated with the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief II Fund, including by requiring reporting of information by grantees pursuant to this section.
(4) Until the funds described in subdivision (a) are exhausted, and notwithstanding Section 10231.5 of the Government Code, submit an annual report summarizing these activities, including the information received pursuant to subparagraph (C) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (d), to the appropriate fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature.
(f) For purposes of this section, “pupil” includes an individual who had an individualized education program in the period of time when normal school operations of the local educational agency that the individual attended were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, commencing on or after March 7, 2020.

SEC. 10.

 Implementation of this act is contingent upon an appropriation being made in the annual Budget Act or another statute for its purposes.