The Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) grant, a five year plan started in fiscal year 2010, was intended to be the first widespread program to track and analyze best practices for getting students with intellectual disabilities to and through college.
With federal funding of about $11 million a year, 27 institutions—including the University of Kentucky and the University of Delaware—created model programs with a particular focus on vocational training students need to succeed in the job market.
By the end of the five year plan, an estimated 6,000 students would have gone through higher education programs, earning certificates, completing internships, joining clubs and organizations, and more, program directors say.
For example, in education, a program director is responsible for developing and maintaining degree granting programs and/or other educational services.
The five year period would also be enough time to provide key data to school officials and policy analysts alike about what constitutes success for students with intellectual disabilities, including mental retardation and autism spectrum disorder.
"With these modeled programs, it’s the first time we’re showing the effectiveness of allowing students with intellectual disabilities to go on to college and four year universities, and how effective they are in helping them to become more employable," says Kim Musheno, director of legislative affairs at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).
Shes executive director of the Wisconsin Board for People with Disabilities, "70 or 80 years ago we routinely in the medical community called people with intellectual disabilities imbeciles, idiots and morons.
"Already, just into the second year, the evaluation program part of this is showing that young adults in these college programs are much more likely to find jobs afterward.
After Congressional back and forth regarding funding for the program’s second year, TPSID models were ultimately sustained with about $10.9 million in federal funds to continue through fiscal year 2012, which ends in September.
] Funds for fiscal year 2013 look less clear in the early planning stages.
In the budget proposal released Monday by President Obama, no funding was specifically recommended for the model programs.
"Instead of continuing support for small categorical, narrowly focused programs like TPSID, the Administration proposes to increase funding for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and strategically direct FIPSE funding toward the building of knowledge of what works in higher education," the proposal says.
The consolidation proposal has even well versed advocates wondering what’s next.
"[It's] hard to tell—but it makes the whole program very vulnerable," writes Debra Hart, director of the Education and Transition Team for the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts—Boston, in an E mail.
" In the face of widespread cuts to stymie the looming deficit, TPSID is far from the only program facing potential threats to its budget, autonomy, and longevity.
And federal funding has been secured for other programs that assist those with intellectual disabilities; in particular, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) grants, which support public school students ages 3 to 21, received a $105 million bump for fiscal year 2012.
On Monday, the IDEA grants were highlighted in the president’s budget proposal as a program worth maintaining.
Jacqui McIntyre is a business journalist based in London, UK. Jacqui has a passion for financial markets and breaking news stories and loves writing about business news, stock market, and economic opinions that matters most to its audience. Jacqui spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest financial markets and industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on BigBoardNews.com.