Still other states, such as Nevada and North Carolina, require four weeks or more for eligibility for home instruction (See Appendix C).
In terms of providing instruction, the states vary greatly in their requirements. In some states, such as Alaska and Hawaii, the homebound or hospital instructors are not required to hold certified teaching certificates, but act as tutors alone. They obtain regular classroom materials from the student's regular instructor, and act as a tutor, delivering assignments and assisting the student in learning the material. In other states, such as New York and Texas, the individual responsible for providing instruction to the disabled student is required to hold a valid certified teaching certificate in the state of the services, and in some states, is even required to hold special education training certification (See Appendix C).
In terms of hours per week required for instruction, the states again vary greatly. In most states, at least 5 hours a week, equivalent to one hour per missed school day, is required for attendance to be considered adequate. Other states, however, have separate requirements for elementary and secondary students. In Delaware, for example, elementary students are required to have at least three hours of homebound or hospital educational service, while secondary students are required to have at least five hours per week. Still other states, such as Florida and Illinois, require one or two hours per week per subject, while others, such as Missouri and Pennsylvania, determine the hours needed based on the student's own educational needs (See Appendix C).
General Expectations of Teachers, Parents, and Students
While the specific state expectations for instructors, parents, and students involved in homebound and hospital educational service vary, many general expectations are shared between all states. This section will discuss the general expectations for all parties involved, and will outline the requirements for each party. By following general guidelines, the chances of student success are highly increased.
For the homebound and hospital instructors, the expectations are numerous. First, the instructor should contact the parent or physician to identify physical or learning impairments of the student, obtain a listing of limitations imposed by any treatments the student is undergoing, identify any extraneous factors that should be taken into account, and to determine any precautions needed to avoid the spread of communicable disease. Secondly, the instructor should contact the pupil's classroom instructor to identify subject and content areas to be covered. Third the instructor should meet with the student as determined by the school district, and should provide the needed assignments, support parents and caregivers to aid them in assisting the student's educational goals, provide tutoring to the student, and to provide other resources for support to the student to achieve maximum academic progress (Michigan Dept of Education, 2003).
The parent's responsibilities are also numerous. First, the parent must request homebound or hospital services, and provide all necessary medical information. The parent must also provide access to the homebound instructor, and be present during all sessions. They must provide an appropriate environment for assignment completion, and for educational sessions. The parents are also expected to assist the child as needed, and follow all instructions given by the homebound teacher. In addition, the parents of homebound or hospital schooled children should provide support to the student in terms of their academic achievement, but are expected not to perform the schoolwork for the child. If the parent feels the schedule, assignments, or level of education are too high or low, these issues should be brought to the attention of the IEP group or the homebound or hospital instructor (Michigan Dept of Education, 2003).
For the student, the expectations are similar to those within a regular classroom environment. The student is expected to ask for assistance when needed, and when clarification for assignments is required. Additionally, the student is to attend class activities, as possible, or to reschedule such sessions if illness or treatment prevents attendance. The student is also expected to return materials and supplies on time following completion of assignments, and to continue to work with their homebound instructor until such time as they are allowed back in a regular classroom environment (Michigan Dept of Education, 2003).
In addition to regular classroom materials, several states have begun to provide additional materials to homebound or hospitalized students in an effort to enhance their educational attainment. In Michigan, for example, staff is encouraged to utilize many technological tools in order to better educate students (Michigan Dept of Education, 2003). This section will discuss some of the supplemental materials used in various programs that can assist homebound students.
In cases of hospitalized education, some hospitals allow for full time instructional staff and classroom space for hospitalized students. In these cases, some districts allow schools to contract hospital services for the child, if the fees for such services are minimal, and parallel to the cost of a student in regular classroom environments. Such allocation of resources allows the district to contract services for students whose conditions endanger regular instructors, such as in the cases of communicable diseases (Michigan Dept of Education, 2003).
In some larger school systems, the use of telecommunications or video conferencing can be extremely useful for homebound or hospitalized students. In these cases, students who are physically capable of benefiting from instruction can be linked to the classroom via telephone communications or internet video. This allows the student to participate actively in classroom discussion, while still allowing the student to remain at home or in a hospitalized setting. While there are fees to set up such technology, many companies will wave these fees for special education situations (Michigan Dept of Education, 2003).
In terms of students whose disabilities involve hearing or vision limitations, there are numerous options. For some educational materials, publishers offer materials in a variety of forms, including video with subtitles, CD-Rom-based learning with audio cues, and books on cassette. For students whose limitations involve writing ability, voice activated computer software can easily take notes and record answers to assignments. In addition, the use of videos or computerized learning can enhance the student's education while providing an entertaining learning environment (Michigan Dept of Education, 2003).
There can be no question that long-term illness or injury can be devastating for a student's educational goals. However, as the federal guidelines specify, this does not mean the child is not eligible for the same educational services as those students without such conditions. Every state has implemented a homebound/hospital program for such circumstances, and all families are entitled to receive such services at no charge from their school districts. From the federal government's general guidelines to the specific requirements of each state, homebound / hospital educational programs continue to develop in an effort to maximize every student's educational achievement, regardless of circumstances. By working together, parents, staff, and authorities can ensure that every child is given the education he or she deserves.
Appendix a Major Differences between the IDEA and Section 504
The IDEA P.L.94-142
Who is Protected
Lists 13 categories of qualifying conditions.
Much broader. A student is eligible if s/he meets the definition of qualified person with a disability; i.e., has or has had a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity, or is regarded as disabled by others.
Duty to Provide a Free Appropriate Education
Both require the provision of a free appropriate education to students covered under them including individually designed instruction.
Requires the district to provide IEPs. "Appropriate education" means a program designed to provide "educational benefit."
Appropriate" means an education comparable to the education provided to non-disabled students.
Special Education vs. Regular Education student is only eligible to receive IDEA services if the multidisciplinary team determines that the student has one of the 13 disabilities and needs special education student is eligible so long as s/he meets the definition of qualified disabled person; i.e. has or has had. A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity, or is regarded as disabled by others. The student is not required to need special education in order to be protected.
If a student is eligible under the IDEA, the district receives additional funding.
Additional funds are not provided.
Not specifically mentioned although if modifications must be made to provide a free appropriate education to a student, the IDEA requires it.
Detailed regulations regarding building and program accessibility.
Both require notice to the parent or guardian with respect to identification, evaluation, placement and the provision of a free and appropriate public education.
Requires written notice.
Does not require written notice but a district would be wise to do so.
Notice provisions are much more comprehensive. What the notice at a minimum must provide, is specifically spelled out.
Written notice is required prior to any change in placement.
Notice is required only before a "significant" change in placement.