A common theme in public school funding articles is the serious impact of pandemic financial aid running out, resulting in significant monetary deficits to provide appropriate education for children in poverty areas. In an Aug. 25 Chalkbeat article written by Matt Barnum, a strong warning is presented to address the need for improved funding systems to address inequity in American education, resulting in significant obstacles for specific groups of children. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a worthy resource to tap additional funding for eligible children.
As recent as Aug. 18, the Center for Medicaid and CHIP issued the informational bulletin, “Information on School-Based Services (SBS) in Medicaid: Funding, Documentation and Expanding Services.” This bulletin expresses funding eligibility and includes the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It articulates that school transportation documentation can play a considerable role in assembling the required documentation for receiving funding for Medicaid-coverable, school-based services for eligible children. Transportation documentation is allowable to document eligibility to receive Medicaid and CHIP revenue. This opportunity should be explored as a long-term source of revenue for school districts.
Typically, when reviewing a bulletin of this nature, I do a word search that includes the word “transportation.” The word transportation is located on page 11 of this 19-page bulletin. It was stated in the footnotes that, “Attendance records can generally be used to document the student was present on the day a Medicaid service was rendered or the student was present on a day they were included in transportation logs as receiving transportation to receive a needed Medicaid service.” It further states, “Transportation logs can be used, in conjunction with attendance logs, to show that a student was in school on the day in which the student was transported off-site to medical care.” This readily available option for gathering ridership data can make a significant difference in obtaining school district revenue.
What has historically been reported as problematic during the auditing of ridership data is a lack of driver and monitor attentiveness to how students scan their cards during boarding and disembarking the school bus. Children in wheelchairs have not been accurately recorded as boarding or disembarking the school bus, and there has been a lack of knowledge of substitute drivers and attendants not knowing how to collect data. All of these problems can be resolved to ensure the accuracy of data to access additional revenue. Transportation technology can replace an outdated manual system to receive revenue that is more accountable.
Related: The ’Ripple Effect’ of Medicaid Cuts on Student Transportation
Related: Congressional Members Advocate for Better Health Insurance for School Bus Employees
Related: Medicaid Eligibility for Transportation Services for Students with Disabilities
There is no lack of student transportation software to meet the documentation requirements put forth by the Center for Medicaid and CHIP. Additional guidance stated in the bulletin provides an incentive to get onboard and to utilize school transportation technology to obtain revenue for school districts.
This opportunity should be explored diligently by school district administrative leadership. A vital consideration to succeed is the technical support and in-service training available from a selected vendor. The role of technology is only as good as the understanding of the user.
In summary, school transportation tracking technology is an available and efficient way to document eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP coverable services funding. Exemplary, transportation leadership can play a vital role in obtaining additional long-term funding for serving our nations school districts most vulnerable children.
Linda F. Bluth, Ed.D., is an expert witness, tenured faculty member of the Transporting Students with Disabilities and Special Needs National Conference and a Hall of Fame member as well as past-president of the National Association for Pupil Transportation.