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Westchester/Putnam Council Special Needs Scouting Advancement Procedures

 

The Westchester-Putnam Council explicitly subscribes to all Advancement policies and procedures established by the National Office of the Boy Scouts of America, which are published in the official Guide to Advancement 2013 manual #33088.

The following information summarizes the advancement policies in the Westchester-Putnam Council. They are based on the official Guide to Advancement 2013 manual. If there are differences, the Guide to Advancement 2013 manual will take precedence. 

 


Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility 

 

Youth and adults who are developmentally disabled, or youth with severe physical challenges, may be considered for registration beyond the age of eligibility for their program: over age 11 for a Cub Scout, 18 as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout, or 21 as a Venturer or Sea Scout (see Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America, article XI, section 3, clause 20, reproduced in the appendix, 11.5.0.0).

A developmentally disabled adult of any age, for example, may be considered for youth membership and join Scouting if a qualified medical professional is able to correlate cognitive abilities to less than the upper limit of an eligibility age. Members approved to be so registered are indicated in the system with a disability code. A disability, to qualify an individual for registration beyond the age of eligibility, must be permanent and so severe that it precludes advancement even at a rate significantly slower than considered normal. If ranks can be achieved under accommodations already provided in official literature, or with modifications as outlined below, then the disability probably does not rise to the level required. This is often the case in considering advancement potential for youth with moderate learning disabilities and such disorders as ADD/ADHD. If ranks can be earned, but it just takes somewhat longer, the option is not warranted.

Examples of conditions that, if severe, may be criteria for registration beyond the age of eligibility include these:

  1. Autism spectrum disorders
  2. Blind or sight-impaired
  3. Deaf or hard of hearing
  4. Developmental cognitive disability
  5. Developmental delay
  6. Down syndrome
  7. Emotional or behavioral disorder
  8. Physically impaired
  9. Severely multiple impaired
  10. Traumatic brain injury

To register a person who will remain as a youth member beyond the age of eligibility, the following documents must be assembled and submitted to the Westchester/Putnam Special Needs Scouting committee:

  1. A letter from a parent or guardian describing the disability and its severity and permanence, and petitioning the council for approval of registration beyond the age of eligibility
  2. A completed youth membership application or proof of current membership
  3. A completed Annual BSA Health and Medical Record form, online at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/ahmr.aspxExternal Link signed by a licensed physician
  4. A signed statement from a qualified health professional attesting to the nature of the disability, its severity, and permanent limitations connected with it. For physical disabilities, this must be a licensed physician; for developmental or cognitive issues, a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, or as appropriate, a neurologist or other medical professional in a specialty related to the disability.
  5. A letter from the unit leader advocating and supporting the registration
  6. Other supporting documentation, such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), treatment summaries, etc., which are optional, but can make a difference in the decision. The council executive board must approve petitions directly, or delegate action to a council operating committee or other group of responsible volunteers at the council level. 

Westchester/Putnam Council petitions should be sent to the WPC Special Needs Scouting Committee for review. The review board will consist of the SNS committee chair, members of the SNS committee and members in the medical field from the SNS Advisory board that can best understand and advocate for the youth in question. The review board may interview all parties, including the youth if he/she wishes, in order to understand the scope of the disability and to answer any questions that may arise from the petition.

If granted, the Scout executive prepares an approval letter and sends it to the Scout’s parent or guardian and unit leader or committee chair. A copy is retained in the unit’s registration file for as long as the member remains registered. Upon entering the member, the council registrar selects the appropriate code based on the nature of the disability. 

If the petition is denied, the youth will receive a denial report citing the reasons for the denial from the SNS Review Board. Depending on the reason for denial, the youth may be eligible for appeal to the Board, such as not submitting required documentation. If the youth does not fit the criteria, however, he/she will not be granted an appeal.

Unit leaders should contact the SNS Committee Chair at  SNScouting@wpcbsa.net


Advancement Flexibility

Advancement for Cub Scouts With Special Needs

Advancement is so flexible that, with guidance, most Cub Scouts with disabilities can complete requirements. The standard is, “Has he done his best?” It may take him longer to attempt requirements and demonstrate this, but his accomplishments will be rewarding to him, his parents, and his leaders. There could be times, however, when a Cub Scout’s “best” isn’t enough even to get a start. For example, a boy in a wheelchair cannot pass requirements calling for walking or running. In these cases, Cubmasters and pack committees may jointly determine appropriate substitutions that are consistent with the Cub Scout showing he can “do his best.” For example, elective requirements could take the place of those found in achievements. Or in consultation with parents, other adjustments representing similar challenges could be made. There is no need to involve the Special Needs Scouting committee in these decisions-the unit and parents can make the accommodations.

Advancement for Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts With Special Needs

Requests for alternative requirements-

A degree of modification in advancement requirements may be necessary to mainstream as many members with disabilities as possible. Thus a Scout with a permanent physical or mental disability (or a disability expected to last more than two years or beyond the 18th birthday) who is unable to complete all the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank may, with his parent or guardian, and also the unit leader or a member of the troop committee, submit a request to the council Special Needs Scouting committee to complete alternative requirements. Unless a Scout has been approved to register beyond the age of eligibility, alternative requirements must be completed by the 18th birthday.

Simple modifications very close to existing requirement need not be approved. A Scout in a wheelchair, for example, may meet the Second Class requirement for hiking by “wheeling” to a place of interest. Allowing more time and permitting special aids are also ways leaders can help Scouts with disabilities make progress. Modifications, however, must provide a very similar challenge and learning experience. 

How to Apply-

Before applying for alternative requirements, members must complete as many of the existing requirements as possible. Once they have done their best to the limit of their abilities and resources, the unit leader or a troop committee member submits to the council Special Needs Committee committee a written request for alternative requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks. It must show what has been completed, and suggest the alternatives for those requirements the Scout cannot do. The request must be accompanied by supporting letters from the unit leader, a parent or guardian, and the member (if possible), as well as a written statement from a qualified health professional related to the nature of the disability. 

Statements must describe the disability; cover the Scout’s capabilities, limitations, and prognosis; and outline what requirements cannot be completed. Additional information such as Individualized Education Plans provided to parents by schools, and various treatment summaries and reports, may help an advancement committee make an informed decision. 

Please note this does not apply to merit badges.

Unit leaders should contact the SNS Committee Chair at  SNScouting@wpcbsa.netExternal Link


 

Alternative Merit Badges for Eagle Scout Rank

Though individual requirements for merit badges may not be modified or substituted, youth with special needs may request approval for alternative badges they can complete. This is allowable on the basis of one entire badge for another. To qualify, a Scout or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout must have a permanent physical or mental disability, or a disability expected to last more than two years, or beyond age 18. The member does not need to be registered beyond the age of eligibility with a disability code. Before applying, he must earn as many of the Eagle-required merit badges as possible. Any alternatives must present the same challenge and learning level as those they replace.

The Scout, with his parent or guardian should then complete the Application for Alternative Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges and sent to the council advancement committee. It must be accompanied by supporting letters from the unit leader, a parent or guardian, and the member (if possible), as well as a written statement from a qualified health professional related to the nature of the disability. 

Additional information such as Individualized Education Plans provided to parents by schools, and various treatment summaries and reports, may help an advancement committee make an informed decision. All alternative badges should be included on just one form. The advancement committee reviews the application, using the expertise of professionals involved with youth who have disabilities. To make a fair determination, the committee may want to interview the Scout, his parent(s) or guardian(s), and the unit leader. The committee’s decision should be recorded and delivered to the Scout and the unit leader. Once this is done, the Scout may begin working with a merit badge counselor on the approved alternative merit badges. When applying for the Eagle Scout rank, a candidate with disabilities must attach the approved Application for Alternative Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges to the Eagle Scout Rank Application.

Unit leaders should contact the SNS Committee Chair at  SNScouting@wpcbsa.netExternal Link


Working Toward Venturing Awards

The candidate must meet all current award requirements. There are no substitutions or alternatives permitted except those specifically stated in current requirements. Requests for alternative requirements for Bronze, Gold, Silver, Ranger, Quest, and TRUST awards may be made, however, using the same qualifications and process outlined under “How to Apply for Alternative Requirements,” 10.2.2.2. As with alternative requirements for Tenderfoot through First Class ranks, we must be dealing with permanent physical or mental disabilities, or in the case of Venturers, disabilities expected to last more than two years or beyond age 21. 

Council Special Needs Scouting committee approval for alternative requirements is required in the same way, but to  those for Venturing, the committee must involve an adult with thorough knowledge of Venturing advancement and awards. Unless a Venturer has been approved to register beyond the age of eligibility, alternative requirements must be completed by the 21st birthday.

Unit leaders should contact the SNS Committee Chair at  SNScouting@wpcbsa.netExternal Link

 

 

 

 

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