Planning for Summer Camps and Extended School Year (ESY) Services During a School Shutdown
Posted on 06/01/20 in School by Milestones
Just when you thought you had the whole summer planned for your family, COVID-19 decides to make things interesting. So, what are your options this summer now, with extended shutdowns and closures still affecting schools and summer activities? Here is some guidance from Milestones.
Should I still be planning for ESY services and summer camps?
YES! You need to be actively working towards creating your summer plans and ESY services if applicable. Even though schools are currently shut down, you can still be applying for camps during the summer. While it is still uncertain when services will be resumed as normal, you should still be planning activities for the summer.
If your IEP team has already determined that your child is eligible for ESY services you should call a virtual IEP meeting asking what the schools plans are for any district-lead ESY program. You should be communicating with your IEP team if ESY services have not been decided and calling a virtual IEP meeting to discuss if your student will qualify for services this summer.
What is ESY?
Extended school year (ESY) services are special education and related services that are provided by the school district beyond the traditional school year, usually during the summer. Your child does not have to lose skills in order to qualify for ESY services. The school district can provide ESY in a variety of ways, but the services must be provided at no cost to parents. Your child’s IEP team makes the decision about ESY eligibility.
Where should I look for a good summer camp for my child?
A good summer program will have well trained staff. There is no need to shy away from asking what training the staff at the camp have received. It is also important to explore how the camp will focus on your child's goals; if your child needs to work on maintaining speech skills it would be important to find a program with a speech language pathologist.
If the top priority for your family and child is to have a “fun” and social summer, look for summer options that play to your child’s interests and strengths. If your child is motivated by music, look for camps that focus on that or if your child enjoys traditional outdoor activities, investigate non-disability based summer programs and see what accommodations could be put into place for your child. Use the Milestones Guiding Questions to remember the critical questions to ask new providers and to keep track of all the information you learn.
What should I do if I want to call an IEP meeting to discuss ESY plans?
You should email the lead staff for your IEP team, which may be the primary intervention specialist, a transition coordinator or other identified staff. When you email requesting a virtual IEP meeting to discuss possible ESY services, you could carbon copy (cc) all members of the IEP team including outside consultants or supports like behaviorists if they are typically present at IEP meetings.
Make sure to include administrators typically present at meetings to ensure that all staff receive your request for a meeting. If you call staff to request a meeting, keep written documentation of all communications. It is also helpful if you have priorities for summer programming for your child that the IEP team can discuss how to address in relation to the student’s IEP goals.
What should an ESY program look like?
An ESY program should match the goals reflected in your child’s IEP/504 plan. Skills that have historically been lost or regressed over an extended time period of instruction should be the priority for activities targeted in an ESY program. If your child traditionally loses verbal skills over school breaks, than communication activities should be a focus in the ESY program chosen. If your child has just begun to develop critical skills, then that should be a focus on summer programming offered by the school or sought in the community.
What if my school does not have an ESY program set-up or what if there program does not meet the needs of my child?
You need to get creative here and look “outside the box” for options that might work for your child. Instead of waiting for your school to design a program for your student, provide the team with opportunities you find that could benefit your child, fulfill the needs of the students’ IEP needs and can work within the districts constraints.
This might mean looking at other camp programs that meet your child’s educational needs, finding individual experiences at a local business or community resource or finding a professional that can meet one-on-one with your child to work on specific issues.
If your child needs to maintain their social skills and loves music, could group music therapy at a community provider meet their IEP-identified needs. If your child is motivated by being outdoors but also needs to progress on an emerging goal of counting, is there an activities-based summer camp that focuses on academics too. Talk with other parents and providers about creating unique solutions for ESY programs.
Since my child has gone without services for 10 cons days due to the shutdown, am I entitled to any additional services during the summer?
Yes, if your child has lost critical skills during the school shut down, your child may be entitled to additional services. It is important to note that without data showing that your child exhibits signs of regression it may be difficult for the IEP team to determine what supports and services are needed. Your child does not have to qualify for ESY services in order to qualify for compensatory services. If additional services are offered, they have to be in direct reflection of the IEP/504 services an goals and services and address the regression the child experienced over the school shutdown.
What is the difference between ESY services and compensatory services?
Compensatory services are only offered to student’s who have missed IEP/504 services for 10 or more consecutive school days and as a result did not receive their educational services determined in their IEP. Compensatory services do not require a student have a large regression in skills to qualify.
ESY is typically offered when a student shows continually regression after school breaks, including holiday breaks. ESY targets critical emerging skills or skills typically lost around breaks, while compensatory services are a direct reflection of services missed while the child could not attend school.
Need help creating a summer plan for your loved one? Give the Milestones Helpdesk a call at 216.464.7600 ext. 200. Our professional team can help you know your options and get connected with trusted resources.