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: age 11 or older for a Cub Scout, 18 or older as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout, or 21 or older as a Venturer or Sea Scout. It is not necessary to wait until the Scout has reached the end of his age eligibility for his program to submit the request. An adult of any age who has developmental disabilities, 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 who have only moderate learning disabilities or such disorders as ADD/ADHD. If ranks can be earned, but it just takes somewhat longer, registration beyond the age of eligibility is not warranted.
Note that registration beyond the age of eligibility is intended as a permanent arrangement to allow ongoing participation as a youth member in the Scouting program. This is different from a “time extension,” which is available to a young man working toward the Eagle Scout rank should circumstances not due to his choice or fault arise that preclude achievement before his 18th birthday. Extensions of time are available only for the Eagle Scout and Quartermaster ranks, and for the Venturing Summit Award. Extensions have specific end dates and they may or may not involve disabilities. See “Time Extensions,” 188.8.131.52.
In considering registration beyond the age of eligibility, members with conditions such as those listed below may meet the severity requirement, but every case must be considered individually. If members are able to take advantage of the flexibility already built into Scouting advancement, and participate in essentially the same way as typical youth, then they must not be registered beyond the age of eligibility.
Examples of conditions that, if severe, may be criteria that qualify a youth for registration beyond the age of eligibility include these:
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Blind or sight-impaired
- Deaf or hard of hearing
- Cognitive disability
- Developmental delay
- Down syndrome
- Emotional or behavioral disorder
- Physically disabled
- Traumatic brain injury
- Multiple coexisting disabilities
Find additional information and resources on working with Scouts who have special needs at www.scouting.org/disabilitiesawareness.aspx.
“Multiple coexisting disabilities” refers to a diagnosis of two or more disabilities, none of which alone may be significant enough to warrant registration beyond the age of eligibility but when considered in combination may qualify. For example, a youth with a moderate learning disorder or ADHD, alone, may not be approved to register as a Boy Scout after age 18. If another disability also exists, however, the cumulative impact including that from medication can be significant.
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 local council. The Request for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility, No. 512-935, found in the appendix and at www scouting.org/advancement, should be used in this process.
If done well, and available from the parents, an Individualized Education Plan can give valuable information on how to work with an individual Scout and help him achieve at the best of his abilities.
- 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.
- A completed youth membership application or proof of current membership.
- A completed and signed Annual BSA Health and Medical Record form (parts A and C), online at www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/ahmr
- 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.
- A letter from the unit leader advocating and supporting the registration.
- 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 requests directly, or delegate action to a council operating committee or other group of responsible volunteers at the council level. This may or may not be the council advancement committee. Individual cases must be deliberated upon. Consideration of registration beyond the age of eligibility shall not be delegated to any district or to any single individual, either professional or volunteer. 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 of the letter 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, and follows any other procedures as outlined in the most current edition of the Registrar Procedures Manual, No. 524-901. The National Member Care Contact Center is available to assist as needed.
Once the Scout executive’s letter is prepared and filed, and the member is entered as registered beyond the age of eligibility, any supporting private information should be returned to its source—the parent or guardian, or the institution that provided it. Should there be questions about its disposition, then the supporting private information should be destroyed.
Members approved for registration beyond the age of eligibility may continue working on advancement, including the Eagle Scout rank and Eagle Palms, for as long as they continue to be so registered. The local council or the National Council, upon uncovering evidence that a youth was improperly registered with a disability code, or for whatever reason no longer meets the required level of severity, may make the decision to expire the registration. Registration of an adult as a youth member with a disability code may also be expired if it is determined the registrant has progressed sufficiently to become registered as an adult.