Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

Research & Data Analysis Division


Publication cover for 'Educational Disabilities Among At-Risk Students'

Apr 13 | 11.190 | Online Library

Educational Disabilities Among At-Risk Students

The overlap between social service use and special education participation among school-aged children in Washington State

Children and youth served by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services who attend public schools are disproportionately likely to qualify for special education relative to their representation in the statewide student population. This study utilizes linked DSHS and educational administrative data sources to analyze the demographic characteristics, patterns of social service use, and educational challenges of children who receive both school-based special education and DSHS services. The findings suggest that within the DSHS population, those who receive services associated with emotional or behavioral needs (DBHR – Mental Health) or an unstable family environment (Children’s Administration services) are more likely to be enrolled in special education than those who do not receive those services. Furthermore, children who are served by the Children’s Administration, DBHR, or the Juvenile Justice and Rehabilitation Administration and are also enrolled in special education are far more likely than other special education participants to qualify with a diagnosis of an emotional or behavioral disorder. These findings provide compelling evidence to support ongoing efforts toward interagency collaboration in the provision of services to at-risk children and youth.