The Institutional Schools Act (Chapter 563 of the New York State Laws of 1980): A case study

Bessie Reid Ford, Fordham University


This case study analyzed the process which generated a public policy. It traced the evolution of a piece of legislation, popularly referred to as the Institutional Schools Act of 1980, though officially titled Chapter 563 of the laws of New York State, 1980. The study covered a period of five years, from 1975 to 1980, when the bill became law. The Institutional Schools Act of 1980 enacted a series of reforms in the provision of educational services for children who are placed by the Department of Social Services with voluntary child care agencies in their residential facilities for reasons of neglect, abuse, handicapping conditions, and/or juvenile offenses. The study identified the prevailing interest groups and/or individuals who participated in the political process which forged this act. Since new demands generally arise out of solutions which are found for previous demands, the study considered, tangentially, the new issues which had risen in several of the Special Act School Districts (public schools on the campuses of agencies) since the implementation of the act. Recommendations were made as possible solutions to problematic issues. The methodology had two basic features. It relied primarily upon the documentary records, formal and informal, for evidence. However, this evidence was supplemented by extensive interviews with some of the most active and knowledgeable participants in the political process. The research was guided by the principles of two theories: the systems theory and group theory. The systems theory, as it relates to policy formulation, depicts the process as a system of behaviors or interactions manifested in one of its four components: input, process, output and/or feedback. Group theory focuses on the interaction among groups as the central fact of policy formulation. A brief developmental history of institutional care for children was considered, and milestones in the development of educational provisions for handicapped children were highlighted so that the study could be considered within a context.

Subject Area

Special education|Welfare

Recommended Citation

Ford, Bessie Reid, "The Institutional Schools Act (Chapter 563 of the New York State Laws of 1980): A case study" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8813574.