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About BOCES Special Education Services

The mission of the Capital Region BOCES Special Education division is to provide quality educational programs for the students we serve in a safe and caring environment, allowing students with diverse needs to achieve their individual potential.

What is a BOCES?

The New York State Legislature created the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in 1948 to provide shared educational programs and services to schools throughout the state. Thirty-seven BOCES throughout the state provide a range of educational and support services to all but nine of the states 721 school districts. Many times, these are services that an individual district may not be able to provide on its own.

What is BOCES Special Education?

The Capital Region BOCES Special Education Division offers a comprehensive array of programs designed to meet the needs of disabled and non-disabled students. Students are placed in specific programs according to their individual academic capabilities and social/behavioral needs.

The Capital Region BOCES provides special education students with the opportunity to access the general education curriculum, as well as to fully participate, when appropriate, in the New York State Assessment Program. BOCES special education program curriculum is adapted to meet the New York State Common Core Learning Standards through individualized instruction.

BOCES Special Education also offers extensive support services for districts, including itinerant related services, consultation services and staff development.

What are special education related services?

Related services are non-academic services that supplement instruction to support the needs of special education students. Related services include:

  • 1:1 aides
  • Social work services
  • Occupational therapy and evaluation
  • Speech therapy and evaluation
  • Physical therapy and evaluation
  • Visually impaired, rehabilitation, and orientation & mobility services and evaluation
  • Interpreter for the deaf
  • Notetaker for the deaf
  • Program nurses
  • Life Employment Applications Program (LEAP) job developer

Related services may be provided to students enrolled in BOCES programs, or purchased on an itinerant bases by school districts to support their special education programming.

What are itinerant services?

BOCES itinerant services offer schools the opportunity to share the services of profession educators and related service providers on an individual basis to support district special education programs. In general, itinerant services are purchased by FTE (full time equivalent). BOCES assigns itinerant providers to districts. Their specific schedules and student assignments within each school are determined by the district.

Itinerant services include:

  • Assistive technology services
  • School social work
  • Consultant teacher services
  • Interpreter for the deaf
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech impaired therapy
  • Speech improvement
  • Sunnyview tutorial services
  • Teacher of the visually impaired
  • Orientation and mobility teachers
  • Rehabilitation teacher
  • School psychological services
Where do BOCES students receive instruction?

Student placement varies greatly, depending on the needs of each student and the resources available in their home school district. The goal is to meet student academic and social needs in the least restrictive environment possible.

BOCES provides special education services under three different models:

  • Itinerant services: BOCES professional services are purchased by school districts to supplement district special education programs and serve students within their home districts.
  • Program services: Students receive instruction in self-contained BOCES special education classrooms located in public school districts throughout the region. Students are taught by BOCES teachers, and may receive related services from district or BOCES providers. Students are integrated into general education setting to different degrees, depending on their individual needs and abilities.
  • Center-based programs: BOCES operates three center-based programs, self-contained BOCES school buildings, serving students with intense social or developmental challenges. Students in center-based programs receive all instruction and related services from BOCES teachers and providers.
What types of students attend BOCES special education programs?

The specialized populations served by the Capital Region BOCES Special Education Division include students ages 6 to 21 who present with autism spectrum disorders, severe and multiple disabilities, emotional disturbance, hearing and visual impairments and specific learning disabilities.

How does a student become eligible for BOCES special education services?

Children are placed in BOCES special education programs at the direction of their local school districts Committee on Special Education (CSE). CSE teams, including the district CSE chair, classroom teacher, parents, and service providers collaborate to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for any student identified as requiring special education services.

What is an IEP?

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a document outlining the special education program and services designed to meet a childs individual needs. Under federal law, every child who receives special education services must have an IEP, and the IEP must include specific information about the child and the services identified to meet his or her unique needs. This information includes the childs diagnosis, current performance, annual goals, frequency of related services, testing and instructional accommodations, and progress measures.

Who pays for BOCES special education services?

School districts purchase BOCES special education services as part of their annual school budget. The majority of revenues for local school budgets come from local property taxes and state aid. Individuals cannot purchase BOCES services.

What is BOCES aid?

BOCES aid is a form of expense-driven state aid through which BOCES component school districts receive financial support for their participation in BOCES. When districts purchase eligible BOCES services, they receive a portion of the cost of those services back in state aid the following year.

Do schools receive BOCES aid for special education services?

No. None of the current offerings from the Special Education Division are BOCES aidable.

What is High Cost aid?

High cost aid is available through the New York State Education Departments System for Tracking and Accounting of Children (STAC). It is a complex system of reimbursement based on district wealth and approved student services, intended to ease the burden of expensive mandated special education services on limited school budgets.

Do schools receive high cost aid for BOCES special education services?

Eligible districts may receive high cost aid for approved special education services, regardless of the provider. Schools may receive high cost aid for special education services provided in district, through BOCES, or through other agencies.

Are BOCES services eligible for Medicaid reimbursement?

Medicaid reimbursement for BOCES services is available to districts for Social Work (Psychological Counseling), Occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and skilled nursing services, only for students who are identified by the district as being Medicaid eligible. Only direct student service in group and individual treatment sessions is eligible for medical reimbursements. Related service consults (which may include consulting with a classroom team on how to best address student needs within the classroom, or consulting with outside agencies to address student needs), are not Medicaid eligible.

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