(1)The general assembly hereby finds that:
(a)A significant number of children in Colorado are placed in day treatment centers, residential child care facilities, other out-of-home placement facilities, or hospitals and receive their education through programs provided by these facilities;
(b)Although these facilities strive to provide the best educational programs possible within limited resources and under difficult circumstances, studies indicate that students who receive educational services through facility programs are more likely to repeat a grade level, more likely to perform below grade level, more likely to drop out of school, less likely to be employed, less likely to continue into higher education, and more likely to be eventually arrested and incarcerated;
(c)Each facility independently provides an educational program that, in most instances, is not consistent in the areas of course work, academic credits, graduation standards, or curriculum with any other educational program provided by a facility or with any educational program provided by a school district or an institute charter school. This lack of consistency makes it extremely difficult for a student to move from one facility to another or to move from a facility to a school district or institute charter school and puts the student almost hopelessly behind in meeting standards for completing a grade level or for graduation.
(d)Each student who receives an educational program through a facility participates in the Colorado student assessment program. However, the student’s scores are usually not included in calculating a school’s levels of attainment of the performance indicators, and the transitory nature of the student’s educational career makes it difficult, if not impossible, for an education provider to longitudinally track the student’s academic growth.
(e)Because of the uniqueness of the population served by each facility, it is important for each facility to maintain a significant degree of control over the educational program provided by the facility. However, by partnering with the department of education to provide an educational program that, as much as practicable, is consistent among the facilities, each facility can vastly improve the quality of each student’s overall academic experience while the student receives educational services from the facility and when the student transfers to another facility or to a school district or an institute charter school.
(2)Therefore, the general assembly finds that creating a unit within the department of education to work with facilities to create consistency with regard to curriculum, standards, and tracking of student performance within facility education programs will raise the overall quality of the education provided to these students, thereby helping these students meet their full potential both academically and as fully contributing adults within the community.
(3)The general assembly further finds that, for purposes of section 17 of article IX of the state constitution, creating the facility schools unit within the department of education and the facility schools board to work with approved facility schools to standardize the educational services provided to students in approved facility schools and implementing a data system to maintain the records of students who receive educational services from approved facility schools will enable approved facility schools to provide each student a more consistent and coherent education, thereby improving each student’s likelihood of achieving state academic standards. The facility schools unit, the facility schools board, and the data system are therefore important elements of accountable programs to meet state academic standards and may receive funding from the state education fund created in section 17 (4) of article IX of the state constitution.
(4)Intentionally left blank —Ed.
(a)The general assembly further finds that the number of approved facility schools and placements of students in facility schools in Colorado has substantially declined due in part to county departments of human or social services and other state and local agencies reducing the use of congregate care placements. However, a small percentage of students with exceptionally severe or specialized needs, who may have been served in approved facility schools in the past, still require specialized services beyond the level available from their school district of residence.
(b)Therefore, the general assembly further finds that it is in the best interests of students with exceptionally severe or specialized needs to stabilize and enhance the number of approved facility school placements and to improve student services by:
(I)Providing adequate and predictable funding for approved facility schools;
(II)Establishing an interagency resource guide for facilities seeking licensure or authorization to operate as approved facility schools;
(III)Requiring state agencies to establish consistent administrative practices to license, authorize, approve, and fund approved facility schools that may result from the development of the interagency resource guide described in subsection (4)(b)(II) of this section;
(IV)Allowing state agencies to recommend changes to law, rule, policy, and practice based on the establishment of consistent administrative practices described in subsection (4)(a)(III) of this section;
(V)Requiring the department of health care policy and financing, in consultation with the work group, to recommend a plan to provide guidance to approved facility schools on the eligibility standards required to request and receive medicaid reimbursement funding for therapeutic services to the maximum extent possible to reduce reliance on school district revenue for therapeutic services;
(VI)Authorizing the facility schools board to authorize a facility to operate as a specialized day school;
(VII)Authorizing the facility schools board to adopt accreditation measures for approved facility schools; and
(VIII)Expanding technical assistance for school districts and administrative units, with a priority to serve rural school districts, remote school districts, or school districts that face significant obstacles to providing intensive supports to serve students with exceptionally severe or specialized needs.
Section 22-2-401 — Legislative declaration,
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/olls/crs2023-title-22.pdf (accessed Oct. 20, 2023).