(a) The Superintendent shall ensure that eligible children with exceptional needs are given equal access to all child care and development programs. Available federal and state funds for children with exceptional needs above the standard reimbursement amount shall be used to assist agencies in developing and supporting appropriate programs for these children.
(b) To provide children with exceptional needs with additional access to child care and development programs, the Superintendent shall establish alternate appropriate placements, such as self-contained programs and innovative programs using the least restrictive environment. These programs shall be started as expansion funds become available and shall be expanded throughout the implementation of the plan. The Superintendent shall utilize existing program models and input from program specialists to develop new program criteria and guidelines for programs serving children with exceptional needs. These programs may serve children with exceptional needs up to 21 years of age.
(c) Any child with exceptional needs served in child care and development programs shall be afforded all rights and protections guaranteed in state and federal laws and regulations for individuals with exceptional needs.
(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Superintendent may develop unique reimbursement rates for, and make reimbursements to, child care and development programs that received state funding for the 1980–81 fiscal year and serve severely disabled children, as defined in subdivision (y) of Section 8208, when all of the following conditions exist:
(1) Eligibility for enrollment of a severely disabled child in the program is the sole basis of the child’s need for service.
(2) Services are provided to severely disabled children from birth to 21 years of age.
(3) No fees are charged to the parents of the severely disabled children receiving the services.
(e) The Superintendent shall include child care and development providers in all personnel development for persons providing services for children with exceptional needs.