Wow. So I have to do a post on homebound. Granted, I guess at some point, there will be a blog post about every aspect of IEPs. But I try to follow trends and recurring questions in the Facebook group. And IEP homebound keeps coming up again and again. And that bothers me, but more on that later.
What is Homebound?
This is important. Because homebound, homeschooling and other terms getting used interchangeably…and incorrectly.
IDEA does not specifically define homebound services and what they should look like. That is left up to the states.
That being said, there is a difference between homebound instruction and instruction in the home.
Pennsylvania (my home state) has very specific rules and guidelines surrounding home bound instruction. What is common: that homebound is designed to be short term. Homebound was developed as an option to accommodate acute illnesses and situations. Things like cancer treatment and recovering from surgery. It was never designed to be a long-term placement.
How PA Defines Homebound
Again, this is from the PA regs, but you will find commonalities and similar thinking in your state’s regs. Just google “state + homebound instruction” and you should find it.
A school district, area vocational technical school, charter school, independent school, private school or non-public school may temporarily excuse a student from compulsory attendance on account of illness or other urgent reasons and provide that student homebound instruction while he or she is excused from school. Regulations require that the term “urgent reasons” be strictly construed not to permit irregular attendance at school. See 22 Pa Code § 11.25 in the Laws and Regulations section.
What is NOT Homebound Instruction
There are a number of educational options that sometimes are referred to as “homebound instruction” although they do not fit the legal definition of homebound instruction. The following are NOT categorized as “homebound instruction”
- Instruction conducted in the home: for special education students for whom an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) team determines that the instruction of the student is to be conducted in the home; students are counted in both the school membership and school attendance; this is not homebound instruction.
- Home Education Programs (“homeschooling”): usually taught at home by a parent (referred to as the home education supervisor); students are not counted in either the membership or school attendance; this is not homebound instruction.
- Home Study: for expelled students or students awaiting placement; students are counted in the membership but not the school attendance; this is not homebound instruction.
It’s a Placement Decision.
I can’t say it enough–IEP placement is the last decision in the IEP process.
And here’s where I get on my soapbox for a minute. But instruction in the home is overused and abused, too often as an accommodation for anxiety or bullying.
Yep, I said it.
Look I get it. Your child is stressed and their mental health is worsening. But instruction in the home should be a temporary solution. Keep working toward and fighting for a better solution. Because a child cannot stay home forever. And that is what is happening.
In my professional experience, once you open that door, it’s a very difficult one to close. The child wants to stay home indefinitely. And, schools go along with it because mom has stopped emailing and complaining. Before you know it, you have a 20 or 25-year-old who won’t/can’t leave the house because they don’t have the coping mechanisms or life skills to do it. It happens all the time.
It’s never a goal, but that is where families end up.
And the whole point of IDEA was so that our kids were not kept at home. Which is what was happening. They have every right to be at school with their peers.
Problems with home instruction.
The problems with this placement are numerous. Over the past decade, I have had several clients whose parents chose this option for them. And, in the Facebook group, have read about dozens more. It’s the same problems over and over.
Consistency and lack of hours.
Most districts only require that the child receive instruction 5 hours per week. It makes no sense. A child’s needs have obviously increased significantly, hence the more restrictive placement. And then instead of 30 hours a week of school, they only need 5? Where is the logic?
But chances are, that’s what you’ll be offered. Five hours per week. You can ask for more but it will be another IEP battle.
Often times, you’ll have different instructors and the program will lack consistency. Sending out instructors and therapists to the home is a very expensive option for schools. So, they may ask you to meet at a library. They may ask you to transport your child to the school for therapies.
I can 100% guarantee you that if you choose this option, it will not be a smooth ride. Teachers and other assigned staff members will continually call out and miss appointments at your house. You will have to stay on them all the time. I have never once seen this be a successful option.
I want homebound, school says no.
And really, they should. Homebound or instruction in the home is considered one of the most restrictive placements. Therefore, if you’re moving along the LRE continuum, this should be one of the last things tried.
The school district is legally obligated to try less restrictive settings first. You really shouldn’t go from struggling in gen ed classes to homebound.
Yeah, quit your blabbing. How do I get it?
Like anything else in the IEP, it’s a team decision. If your child truly needs homebound or instruction in the home, their IEP should point to a placement as such. Review and troubleshoot your IEP, and call for an IEP meeting.
Some legal quotes.
My standard disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer nor do I play one on the internet.
However in doing research for this post, I came across an article that was written by a law practice. Mind you, this practice represents school districts, not families. They are well known around here. You can read the full article below.
Here are two paragraphs about Homebound or Instruction in the Home:
Funny, even they concede that this placement will lead to an ‘educational deficit.’ So why is it even an option?
And, look at the last paragraph. The school district should review this placement decision. Not because it’s a very restrictive placement and may be a detriment to the child. But because it may open the school district up to some liability.