School Provides Services for Students with Special Needs (Staff Reported)
Definition: Percentage of responses by public school staff on the extent to which their school provides services for students with disabilities or other special needs, by type of school (e.g., in 2017-2019, 48.7% of responses by high school staff in California reported that services for students with special needs were provided a lot).
Footnote: Years presented comprise two school years (e.g., 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years are shown as 2017-2019). This question was asked of all surveyed staff in the 2011-12 school year. For school years 2012-13 and later, only staff reporting responsibility for services or instruction related to health, prevention, discipline, counseling, or safety were asked to respond. Data are unweighted. K-12 schools are classified according to the grade levels with greatest enrollment (e.g., schools with more students in the elementary grades than in the middle or high school grades are classified as elementary schools). Students in non-traditional programs are those enrolled in community day schools or continuation education. The notation S refers to data that have been suppressed because (a) there were fewer than 5 respondents in that group, or (b) the sample was too small to be representative. N/A means that data are not available.
Learn More About Access to Services for Children with Special Needs
Measures of Access to Services for Children with Special Needs on Kidsdata.org
Children with special health care needs (CSHCN) have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally. On kidsdata.org, indicators related to access to services for CSHCN include:
Access to a usual source of health care
Access to a variety of services, including medical, mental, and dental care, as well as community- and school-based services, early intervention, special education, and transition services to adulthood
More than 1.25 million California children and youth, and nearly 14 million nationwide, have or are at increased risk for a chronic health condition and require care and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally (1). Their ongoing health problems—physical, behavioral, or developmental—can affect their ability to function and participate in important educational and social activities, and, in some cases, can shorten their lives (2, 3). Although advances in medical care have extended and improved the lives of millions of children, obtaining timely, appropriate, and affordable care remains a problem for many families (2, 3). The vast majority of children with special health care needs (CSHCN) nationally (86%) do not receive care that meets federal standards for a well-functioning system (4). Further, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequities in access to care and other supports can lead to poorer outcomes for vulnerable CSHCN and their families (2, 3).
When compared with children who do not have special health care needs, CSHCN are more likely to experience social-emotional problems, academic challenges, and other types of adversity which can complicate their medical care (2, 3). As a result, CSHCN often rely on a range of services from multiple sectors, and their parents and family members often face higher caregiving burdens and experience more stress and difficulties with employment and finances when compared with other families (2, 3).
1. Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health. (2020). 2018-2019 National Survey of Children’s Health data query: Percent of children with special health care needs (CSHCN), ages 0 through 17. Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: https://www.childhealthdata.org/browse/survey/results?q=7713&r=6&r2=1
4. Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health. (2020). 2018-2019 National Survey of Children’s Health data query: Percent of children with special health care needs (CSHCN), ages 0 through 17, who receive care in a well-functioning system. Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: https://www.childhealthdata.org/browse/survey/results?q=7714&r=6&r2=1
How Children Are Faring
An estimated 86% of California children with special health care needs (CSHCN) ages 0-17 had received a preventive health check-up in the previous year, according to data for 2016, 2017, and 2019 combined.
During the four-year period 2016-2019, around one in three California CSHCN ages 1-17 (32%) received services under an early intervention or special education plan, according to estimates from the same survey.
Among CSHCN nationally, estimates of receipt of preventive medical visits and early intervention or special education services were similar.
In 2017-2019, more than 48% of responses by staff at California elementary, middle, high, and non-traditional schools reported that services for students with disabilities or other special needs were provided a lot. The share of responses by non-traditional program staff reporting that their school provides services for students with special needs a lot rose from less than 37% in 2011-2013 to more than 48% in 2017-2019.
Children with special health care needs (CSHCN), like all young people, need ready access to appropriate medical care, educational opportunities, and, sometimes, mental health care, social services, and other support. CSHCN, especially those with more complex conditions, may face challenges in obtaining timely access to pediatric subspecialty providers and in receiving comprehensive, coordinated, high-quality health care (1, 2). They also are more likely than children without special needs to experience psychosocial problems, difficulties with school, and other life challenges (1, 2). Their families, too, often experience significant caregiving burdens and economic, employment, and personal stress in excess of families without CSHCN (1, 2). While most CSHCN do not receive all aspects of quality health care, inequities in access to care and other resources are especially pronounced for children of color and low-income children (1, 2).
Policies and programs to promote the health and well being of CSHCN and their families should address:
Comprehensive and consistent health care coverage: CSHCN need comprehensive health insurance that provides adequate medical and mental health coverage, including access to specialty care providers. These children also need consistent coverage, without gaps that can cause delays or problems receiving critical services. Appropriate reimbursement is critical to maintaining an adequate provider network, as well (1, 3, 4).
High-quality, well-coordinated, and consistent services: CSHCN benefit from evidence-based health care services provided in the context of a medical home that assures high-quality, well-coordinated care, including effective use of electronic health information and collaboration across health, community, school, and home-based support services (1, 2, 5).
Family-centered care: Families are the most central and enduring influence in children's lives, and CSHCN depend on their families to carry out agreed-upon management plans. Families' values, beliefs, goals, and priorities should help guide care plans, and families should be included as partners in all health care decision-making (1, 2).
Early and continuous screening: Systematic screenings for special health care needs beginning early in a child's life have the potential to reduce long-term consequences of some chronic conditions. Such screenings help identify problems early and can provide an opportunity to assess the needs and strengths of families, as part of providing tailored and family-centered care (2, 5).
Inclusion: Providing CSHCN with opportunities for inclusion with other children in academic, social, and recreational settings is critical to their development and can maximize achievement and quality of life (6).
Support for adulthood transition: As CSHCN age, they need support from their health care, educational, and social service systems to successfully transition to adulthood. For example, they may need assistance to move from school to work or post-secondary education, from pediatric care to adult health care, and/or from family dependency to self-sufficiency (5, 6).
Financing of care: Families of CSHCN must navigate a complicated web of service systems with dueling eligibility criteria and confusing payment policies. This can result in delayed or denied services for children and financial hardship for families. State policy must work toward a unified, efficient, and comprehensive payment system for health care and developmental services, as well as ensuring adequate funding for public systems serving CSHCN (3, 7).