The vast majority of children who exit Part C are eligible for Part B (93.5%). This percentage has remained relatively constant over the past seven years, varying between 90% and 93%. The balance have moved out of state, been withdrawn by parents, were not able to be contacted, or died.
An analysis to determine whether kids are “lost” in the transition from Part C to Part B revealed that about 10% of two-year-old children eligible for Part B on the 2015 National Deaf-Blind Child Count were not included on the 2016 child count as three year olds.
Children and youth exit Part B for a number of reasons. They graduate, age out, transfer to regular education, drop out, or die. From 2010 to 2015, there was a large and steady increase (134%) in the number of youth graduating with a regular diploma, from 94 to 220. In 2016, this decreased to 185. There has also been a large increase (127%) in the number of youth dropping out of school, from 75 in 2010 to 170 in 2015. This decreased in 2016 to 145. Overall, the population described in the National Deaf-Blind Child Count was trending older until this past year. This may have contributed to the declines in diploma and dropout rates seen in 2016.
Ensuring seamless transition between Part C and Part B is critical for maintaining appropriate services for children as they enter preschool. The number of children who seem to be “lost” in this transition warrants attention.
While access to the general curriculum and graduation from high school has improved for the population of children and youth who are deaf-blind, significant efforts are needed to expand these opportunities.
The need for post-secondary education or employment has important implications for the continued development of effective post-secondary supports for students who are exiting Part B every year, whether through having received a diploma or certificate, simply aging out, or transitioning to adult services. The growing number of youth who drop out of school also has important implications for effective educational programming and the continued development of effective post-secondary supports.