Two members of the CHOICES team, Nick Fina and Mia Papas, together with educational audiologist Eileen Reynolds and Statewide Services Coordinator Tina Fredrickson, visited the Berks County Intermediate Unit(BCIU) in Reading, PA on January 8, 2010. Pennsylvania first formed intermediate units to provide mandated services to the state’s 501 school districts. As the BCIU web site notes, “An underlying principle guided the new organizations – the economy of shared resources. The reasoning was that certain centralized services could serve groups of schools, eliminating wasteful duplication.” Local school districts, however, may decide whether or not to use the services of BCIU. Berks County bears some similarities to the State of Delaware, as Table 1 shows.

Delaware Berks County
Table 1: Comparing the State of Delaware with Berks County, PA
Area (square miles) 1,954 859
Students 120K 70K
School districts 19 18
Demographis Urban + suburban + rural; multicultural Urban + suburban + rural; multicultural

BCIU serves, on average, about 1,800 students between the ages of 3 and 5. BCIU does not serve the 0-3 population. Transition between the 0-3 and 3-5 programs begins 90 days prior to the 3rd birthday. BCIU also gets students through other referrals. Each morning in the 3-5 program, the BCIU operates a full-time classroom for seven students who are on a total communications track. In the afternoon they have a classroom with eight students who are in an auditory-oral curriculum. A Clarke School staff member is one of the classroom supervisors in the afternoon session. BCIU’s plans for its program for young children with hearing loss are to:

  • Improve the process of transitioning 0-3 children into the 3-5 program.
  • Continue to develop the auditory-oral component of the program.
  • Work with Clarke School on strategic matters.