Chariho School Parents’ Forum

June 12, 2007

Group home funding

Filed under: Budget,Chariho,RYSE,State-wide — Editor @ 11:27 pm

There is a very interesting post on “level funding” over at one of my favorite blogs, Anchorrising 

Please read the entire post, but here is one statement relevant to the rest of my comments.

Every community that received group home aid in 2007 is having their state education aid reduced by exactly their FY07 group home allocation meaning that, unless all Rhode Island group homes are being shut down (or unless a separate appropriation exists elsewhere in the budget that provides for group-home-related education costs), the legislature’s budget contains true cuts in education funding that go beyond just canceling the hoped-for increases.  

Currently, the State gives the local school an amount of money equivalent to the per-pupil education costs, multiplied by the number of students in the area’s group home(s) (using a formula to compensate for the high number of special education services needed). 

It appears that the funding is being transferred from the State budget to the local budget.  In a way, this makes sense.  A community should take care of it’s own.  But what if kids from Providence are moved to a group home in Richmond?  Now it is Chariho residents who pay the bill. 

This funding shift could go even farther.   If this budget goes through as described in the Anchorrising post, some services for group home kids will still be funded by the State (services such as psychiatric and diabetes treatments).  But what if there was a way to transfer those costs to the school too?  Enter RYSE. 

Image the opportunities a school like RYSE offers.   RYSE can provide education, individual and family services, diabetes treatments, and on and on – no longer on the State’s budget.  Funding responsibility is transferred to the local community. 

If you think this is far fetched, let’s look at a bit of history. 

Some kids make bad choices.  These kids get expelled from school, and with a lack of parenting, end up running the streets.  Because they continue to make bad choices, DCYF is called in to provide an “alternative learning environment.”  This is very expensive so DCYF pushes legislation that restricts the school from expelling the kids. 

This is exactly what happened and now, RI public schools may not expel a child for more than 10 days per year.  These kids are still removed from the school but they are not sent home.  They are sent to other facilities (Forwardview Academy, RYSE, etc..) that provide these alternative-learning services.   

If DCYF was able to shift the burden to the public schools, why can’t HHS, MHRH or whoever operates the group homes? 

This is indeed a slippery slope for not only wards of the state but for all public school kids.  Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that if a child needed any service other than education and basic nursing, the parent found it in the community.   Today, everything from clinical therapy to speech pathology is provided at the school.  

Theoretically, if a parent has the means (money or insurance), they can get services in the community.  But eventually, a parent may even loose the power to make those fundamental purchasing decisions.  Did we see a preview of this with Elaine Morgan?


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