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Parents of Special Needs Children Report Reduced Services, Increased Class Sizes Following Budget Cuts

A survey of over 1,000 parents of children with disabilities found that a majority of respondents have seen detrimental effects on their children’s special education services in the wake of recent budget cuts.

In 2013 alone, federal special education funding was reduced by $579 million as a result of budget sequestration — a process of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that began in March 2013 as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Among those parents who reported changes, nearly one third reported an increase in class size, 27 percent said their child’s school had fewer service providers and some 30 percent said their child’s services decreased. Further, 13 percent blamed budget cuts for a change in their child’s school placement.

The survey was conducted by the National Center for Learning Disabilities. The group’s director of public policy, Lindsay Jones, said that service levels were changing based not on children’s needs, but on the availability of funds — and that such policies were contrary to the law.

Generally, previous polls concerning the effect of budget cuts have focused on the opinions of school administrators and other professionals. This survey is among the first to gauge parents’ perceptions.

Unless Congress intervenes to avert them, further across-the-board budget cuts are expected for 2014.

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