This paper provides an overview of homebound educational services with focus on court rulings, eligibility for services, types of services, personnel, responsibilities for the services, and strategies to facilitate delivery. A working definition of homebound education based on literature review is included. In order to successfully implement homebound education, students, families, teachers, administrators, and medical personnel need training, access to homebound education strategies or activities, and support systems. Advantages and disadvantages in providing homebound educational services are presented.
Keywords Homebound Education; Homebound Services; Hospital Education; In-home Instruction; Service Delivery; Special Education
Homebound education is an educational placement option that receives limited attention in the literature. Students enrolled in public schools, in either regular or special education classrooms, may need to receive educational services outside of the school setting. Homebound education can be delivered in settings which include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, home, or juvenile facilities in which the student is incarcerated.
Homebound education can be defined as educational support by a school district in locations other than the school (Moore-Brown & Montgomery, 2001). Homebound education should not be confused with home schooling, which is a type of educational program where the parent is responsible for providing the educational instruction (Patterson & Petit, 2006; Zirkel, 2003).
The intent of homebound education is to provide temporary, ongoing educational services for students who are unable to attend schools for extended periods of time due to:
• Physical, psychiatric, or medical needs;
• Students that have been suspended or expelled; or
• Students who are incarcerated (Moore-Brown & Montgomery, 2001).
Typically, a medical physician must verify the reason for the incapacity to attend school. The focus of this paper is to provide an overview on court rulings, eligibility for services, types of services, personnel, responsibilities for the services, and strategies to facilitate the delivery of the services.
Goal of Homebound Education
The goal of homebound education is to allow students to continue their educational program while absent from school for extended periods of time due to special circumstances. Another goal of homebound education is to facilitate the student's transition back into the classroom setting as soon as medically indicated.
Eligibility for Homebound Education
Each student who is a resident of a school district, enrolled in the district and in need of homebound education due to absence from school for an extended amount of time should have access to educational services. The student is included on the class roster at the school the student would attend if not receiving homebound educational services. A student typically has to be confined to the home or hospital setting for an extended length of time to be eligible for homebound educational services. In general, school district policies and procedures use absence from school for more than ten school days as a criterion for eligibility (Moore-Brown & Montgomery, 2001).
Eligibility for services includes medical reasons such as pregnancy, psychological conditions, surgery, disease, and suspension or expulsion from school. However, homebound education should not be considered on a routine basis or a permanent option for individuals with emotional, behavioral, or special education needs.
School districts often require a medical physician to state in writing the need for the homebound educational service and its expected duration. Also, the student's medical physician must substantiate in writing the need for homebound services for longer than initially anticipated should an extension of services be required.
Another condition for eligibility is the level of physical incapacity as determined by the medical physician. The medical physician is often required to submit in writing a statement addressing the need for the service(s) and that a student is able to participate in and benefit from the homebound educational program. Once a determination for homebound services is made, implementation of services should be immediate.
Description of Services
A student receiving homebound education should receive an educational program that is as similar as possible to the program offered at the school. The student should have continued access to all available school district resources. Homebound education services are provided by teachers who are specially certified in this area. The homebound teacher is responsible for providing direct instruction to the student in a setting outside of the school, and for maintaining regular contact with the student, school principal, classroom teacher(s) and parents or guardians.
The major difference between the homebound teacher and the classroom teacher(s) is that the classroom teacher(s) maintains the overall responsibility of the planning of the student's educational program. The homebound teacher is a traveling teacher responsible for maintaining contact with all stakeholders and for providing instruction through face-to-face meetings, telephone/video conferencing, or via the Internet. If indicated, other school district personnel such as the speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, or paraprofessional can provide homebound services (Patterson & Petit, 2006).
In order to be effective, it is imperative that effective collaboration, consultation, and service coordination occur. However, depending on the student's difficulties and the appropriateness of the homebound service, the student may be served through alternative educational plans such as mental health services.
A student usually does not receive homebound educational services for seven to eight hours of instruction per day. The number of instructional hours varies depending on the needs of the student. For example, elementary students (grades K to 5th) who qualify for homebound educational services may receive a minimum of five to ten hours of instruction per week. Middle and High school students (grades 6th to 12th) may receive a minimum of ten to fifteen hours of instruction per week (Moore-Brown & Montgomery, 2001). Instructional hours are dependent on the student's academic load and type of educational service (i.e., regular or special education).
Teachers who are assigned to homebound students should be certified in providing homebound instruction. Shea & Bauer (1985) state that due to the nature of providing educational services within the home environment teachers should also, minimally, demonstrate:
• The ability to work in a collaborative, consultative, or coordinated fashion with various stakeholders (e.g., parents, school district personnel, medical personnel and community agencies)
• Familiarity with the a wide range of school curriculum and resources
• Knowledge of human behavior, child development, and children with special needs
• The skills necessary to assess the educational needs of a student and to modify curriculum, adapt teaching techniques and materials to meet the student's specific needs
• Knowledge of technology enhanced instruction to include the internet, telephone/videoconferencing, e-mail, etc
• Knowledge of cultural diversity such as attitudes toward education, interpersonal communication styles, and characteristics of an individual's community.
The specific instructional role of the homebound teacher includes meeting with the regular education teacher(s) to obtain school assignments, delivering the assignments and instructional materials to the home, providing instruction, and returning completed assignments to the classroom teacher for grading or grading assignments and providing the classroom teacher(s) with a grade for the subject. Additionally, the homebound teacher confirms dates and times of home visits, who will be in attendance during the visits, and reports any behavioral, health, or safety issues to the school.
The classroom teacher(s) retains primary responsibility for the student's educational program, grades or assigns grades for work; serves as a resource for the...
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