Funded by the U.S. Department of Education since 2014, WestEd’s Center for IDEA Fiscal Reporting (CIFR) will celebrate an important milestone this spring when it hosts its first in-person IDEA Fiscal Forum for Part C state coordinators and fiscal staff. Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides federal funding to support the coordination of early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families from birth through 36 months.
A key goal of CIFR is to help Part C state agency staff improve their capacity to collect and report special education fiscal data. The in-person IFF in Atlanta, May 9–11, supports this goal by bringing Part C staff together with their colleagues, leading experts in special education fiscal data, and representatives of the federal Office of Special Education Programs who provide grants to states each year for their Part C programs. Through structured learning, sharing, and problem-solving sessions, the IFF creates opportunities for state staff to identify and discuss challenges and enhance their capacity to collect and report high-quality fiscal data.
The conference theme, “Purpose-Driven Data: Putting the ‘Why’ Into Fiscal Processes,” is perfectly suited to an in-person format so participants can focus together—and draw inspiration from one another—on why it’s important to help states use their IDEA fiscal data.
As WestEd’s Leslie Fox, CIFR Part C technical assistance co-lead, puts it well in a recent video, what states do with their data to make decisions about how to use Part C funds has real implications for children and families. “While IDEA fiscal oversight can seem administrative and bureaucratic at times, the IDEA federal grant award is first and foremost about helping infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities,” she says.
CIFR marked another milestone this spring on the IDEA Part B side, which funds services for school-age children with disabilities ages 3 through 21, with an in-person convening of its “New to Fiscal” community of practice (CoP). At the end of March, more than two dozen Part B state staff in their roles for less than a year and a half attended a two-day training in Washington, DC. CIFR’s goal was to provide attendees with the technical knowledge and relationships with peers and technical assistance providers to be successful in their new positions and develop capacity to ensure the ongoing collection and reporting of high-quality fiscal data. This “New to Fiscal” community of practice is one of four Part B topical CoPs that CIFR hosts throughout the year. In addition, planning has begun for our next Part B IDEA Fiscal Forum in 2024.
Along with hosting national convenings and communities of practice, CIFR provides a broad range of universal, targeted, and intensive technical assistance to states and maintains an extensive online library of tools and resources to build the capacity of states to meet their obligation to ensure appropriate use and oversight of IDEA funds.