Alternate Requirements for Special Needs Scouts

Alternate Requirements for Special Needs Scouts
In an earlier article, Thou Shalt not Change Requirements, we discussed that no individual, troop, district or council had the right to change any advancement requirements. All the requirements from Tenderfoot to Eagle are absolute. But what about the Scout with disabilities?

The Boy Scout program understands that there are many Scouts with mental and physical special needs that make completing some of the requirements for rank advancement impossible. What is the process to address the needs of these Scouts?

Clause 19 of the Advancement Rules and Regulations states that youth members with severe mental or physical special needs can be registered with unit outside the normal age range of that type of unit. A special needs youth older than 18 can be registered as a Scout or a special needs youth older than 11 could be a Cub.

For Cub Scouts, the Cubmaster and pack committee may substitute for electives which are outside the capabilities the Cub when determining his advancement. The standard should be, “Has he done his best?”

For Scouts, the process is a little more strenuous:
1. The Scout must complete as many of the standard requirements as possible. He must “do his best” to meet the standards.
2. He must provide a statement from a licensed physician or other health care provider stating:
A. the condition is permanent
B. the physical limitations of the Scout and what activities he is not capable of performing
C. for mental disability, a certified statement about the ability level of the Scout is needed
3. The specific process for obtaining alternative requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class and obtaining alternative merit badge requirements are slightly different. However, in both cases alternatives that are equally difficult for the Scout to perform must be proposed. The proposed alternatives are then submitted to the District Advancement Committee and the Council Advancement Committee for review.
4. The Council Advancement Committee reviews the alternatives and may interview any of the parties involved to determine the appropriateness of the alternatives.
5. Once the Council approves the alternate requirements, the recommendation is forwarded to the Scout Executive for approval.

Once these alternative requirements are approved, “reasonable accommodations” for Scouts with disabilities should be made. This includes time extensions beyond those outlined in the requirements. In other words, there could be a 20 year old special needs Scout receiving his Eagle Award at age 20.

A Scout may NOT work on the alternate requirements until the alternatives are approved. The key to make the process work is to begin as soon as the disability is known. Scouting wants everyone to have a chance to reach his Scouting goal. The process to help achieve that goal is in place. Like all processes, this process takes time to complete. Begin early.

A site that more fully describes the process for alternate requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class Scouts:

A site with the form for alternate Eagle merit badges is:

Thou Shalt Not Change Requirements is:

If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail, I have added this topic to our forum. Ask any questions you like. Or send me an email.

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