Latest information as of March 26, 2020**
What we know:
- EO order 202.4 requires all schools within the state to be closed from March 18th to March 31st, 2020. SED providers will get relief from the 180-school year during that period of time. This will be reassessed and extended if necessary
- NYCDOE has closed schools through April 20th. Since this extends past the March 31st date, any days between April 1st and April 20th will not currently be excused from the 180-day rule – can use snow days, Spring Break, etc.
- All providers are required to notify the following of their School closure
- School District
OCFS approval is needed for closure of a licensed childcare provider. Over the weekend we received notification that OCFS has directed providers to follow DOH guidelines:
- SED has not approved tele-anything at this point with respect to services counting towards the 180-day school year, SEIT services, evaluations, or related services. Providers should be providing remote learning and tele-therapy to the children they serve as part of the continuity of learning expected to be provided to each child.
- The School Districts and Counties will continue to pay providers for tuition-based programs but not fee for service programs. At this point it is unsure how 1:1 aides will be handled as 1:1 aides are not tuition; it is a daily fee for service rate.
Tuition Based Programs:
- On SED’s call last Friday, Suzanne Bolling advised providers to continue to pay tuition-based staff and contractors and she also stated that you need to follow the RCM. This seems to be a contradiction in that contractors should only be paid for services provided per the RCM. In addition, if they don’t provide services, how do you know how much to pay a provider? RCM regulations should be followed. Providers should not be paid unless they provide a service in conjunction with their contracts. If additional, non-IEP services are being provided by contractors, providers may look to modify the contracts they have with contractors during the time of this pandemic to allow for other non-IEP mandated services to be billed.
- At the Federal/State level new guidance was issued this weekend:
- US Department of Education made it clear that distance instruction should be provided pursuant to IDEA
- Schools must provide a free and appropriate education to all their students
- The New York State Medicaid Program announced that Telehealth services will be reimbursed at parity with existing off-site visit payments or face to face visits. Telehealth includes the delivery of service through telephones if other options do not exist.
- Also on Friday’s SED call, it was stated that providers need to ensure that continuity of learning is being delivered to their students
So what does all this mean:
- Programs should have developed or should be developing a plan on how they are going to deliver services to the children in their school. That delivery of services is not going to count towards the 180 days but it should be sufficient to ensure that children are getting some level of services that continue to focus on their IEP goals and hopefully provide some level of progress or at least prevent student regression.
- What providers should be doing:
- Take an inventory/assessment of their staff to determine what abilities they have to provide services, what equipment and internet access they have
- Take an inventory/assessment of families … what equipment/internet access do they have, how engaged is the caregiver, what is the best time period to deliver service
- What will your programs educational model look like? May be very difficult to do education in a classroom environment. Even so, TA’s can communicate with families and can assist teachers, but they cannot provide direct educational services without direct supervision.
- What materials will families need and how can you get it to them?
- What sort of regular communication are your teachers, TA’s, and supervisory staff having?
- How are your tracking hours worked and services provided (what does that documentation look like)?
- With the information from the Feds and Medicaid coming out this weekend, should you be providing related services to your children, even if they are not counted against their IEP mandates?
- What other supports/resources can you provide to your families?
- Pysch/Social work – direct or hotline
- Songs and book readings
- Supply kits
- SED has said that your staff and contractors should be paid, ensure that you have the documentation and support to show that they are doing things to further the education of the children that you serve. 4410 and 853 schools already have a black eye from the OSC audits, you don’t need another one because you failed to provide adequate support during the pandemic. Who knows if anyone will go back and look at these years in the future, but if they do, what would you want them to find?
- SED has made it clear that there are no additional allocations at this time for providers, so providers need to determine how services will be provided with the current budget they have in place. Providers should be preparing cost analysis to see how they are spending against their rates and how that projects out to year-end.
- For providers providing SCIS services, and are integrating with their own UPK program, education needs to also be taking place for the UPK children
- Providers that integrate with daycare children, you are not getting paid for the daycare children, which means that you will have less offsetting revenue for 2020. This could result in overspending and in the past, SED has not been quick to provide waivers for anything having to do with typically functioning children
- With fee-based programs not currently being funded, tuition-based programs could wind up with a greater percentage of administrative costs charged to their programs. Consider this in your planning.
- NYC DOE announced that providers were to cease from providing in person SEIT services as of 3/18 and has finally released its guidance surrounding the delivery of remote SEIT services. Click here to read them.
- On last weeks call, Suzanne Bolling stated that for SEIT services you should follow the direction of your LEA. Furthermore, in their release on Friday, the Federal government said that services should be provided to special education children. As a result, providers should provide SEIT services to NYCDOE children in accordance with each student’s IEP. For non NYCDOE children, providers need to receive direction from their LEA’s.
- It is anticipated that NYSED will be releasing regulations shortly.
- There has been no guidance as of yet, though guidance is expected by month-end
- While providers are getting paid for their 1:1 aides, if a waiver is not received for them, these funds may need to be returned
- Providers need to consider what they will do with respect to their 1:1 staff
- Look at how your grant dollars are being deployed and consider utilizing them, where possible to cover additional cost of tele-delivery of services; especially if right now there are funds earmarked for art or music therapy or other programs such as yoga.
- Remember, before you just reassign funds, you need to request a budget modification from your LEA
- No rules have come out regarding the delivery of evaluation services at this time
Kenneth R. Cerini, CPA, CFP, FABFA
Ken is the Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, LLP and is the executive responsible for the administration of our not-for-profit and educational provider practice groups. In addition to his extensive audit experience, Ken has been directly involved in providing consulting services for nonprofits and educational facilities of all sizes throughout New York State in such areas as cost reporting, financial analysis, Medicaid compliance, government audit representation, rate maximization, board training, budgeting and forecasting, and more.