Tompkins DSS Disability Definitions

While the following was developed for describing a waiting child’s disability level in state photolistings, it is roughly analogous to NYS special/exceptional rate definitions, and provides insight into the factors caseworkers and agencies consider when determining appropriate board/subsidy rates.

It should be understood that in almost every case a disability with the same basic diagnosis will vary from child to child and in many cases can range from mild through severe depending on such factors as the severity of the condition and the ability of the particular child to cope with the disability.

Descriptions of the levels of disabilities and some examples are as follows:

Mild: The child has a problem/disability which requires some parental attention throughout the course of the day and which may also require some doctors visits.

Examples: Hearing loss or vision problems requiring regular medical follow-ups; need for special diet; learning problems which cause the child to be a year or two behind in school work; some acting out behavior/hyperactivity; a high-functioning level of mental retardation.

Moderate: The child has a problem/disability which is serious enough to require special help on a regular basis, including placement in a special class and/or some assistance or supervision from parents on a frequent basis. Problems at this level will usually require regular visits to medical or mental health professionals.

Examples: A deaf or blind child; a child in a wheel chair; a child who must take medication and who exhibits some seizure activity or acting out behavior; a child who must receive insulin injections to control a diabetic condition; a child whose mental retardation is at a trainable level (i.e. he or she will require some supervision in adulthood); a child who has recently or is soon to require serious surgical intervention such as open heart surgery; a learning problem causing the child to be three years or more behind in school.

Severe: The child will require some assistance or intervention on a 24 hour a day basis. While these needs may be periodic in nature, they are such that ignoring them would be likely to negatively effect the health of the child or that of others.

Examples: A child with a terminal illness or one who is bedridden and requires special medical treatment. A child who is schizophrenic, autistic and/or who acts out destructively such as a fire-setter or a serious suicide risk. A child who has a combination of serious physical handicaps such as deaf and blind who will require constant and ongoing assistance.

 Source: Tompkins County, NY Department of Social Services

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