The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a Federal Law about developmental services available for children 0-3 years old (Part C – Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities), and educational services for children 3-21 years old (Part B – Assistance for Education of All Children with Disabilities).
Under Part C of IDEA, local authorities are required to provide a free evaluation when parents of children 3 years old or younger express concern about their child’s development. While this free evaluation will not provide a diagnosis, it will establish what services and therapies may help the child and, therefore, is an important start.
Once referred to an Early Intervention Services (EIS) agency for an evaluation, a service coordinator will be assigned to your family. The coordinator will gather information from your family, help arrange the appropriate assessments and evaluations for your child, as well as help you to create an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). The IFSP describes the child’s strengths and weakness as well as family concerns. The plan also lists services to be provided, to include who will provide the services, where, how often, and for how long.
An eligibility meeting will be held after the appropriate assessments and evaluations have been performed to see if your child qualifies for EIS. If your child is found to be eligible, then you and your support team (including your EIS service coordinator) will write an IFSP.
It is important to note that military families living on a base where there is a DoD school will receive services from the Educational and Developmental Intervention Services (EDIS) and from the local Military Treatment Facility (MTF). All other military families need to contact their local EIS agency.
Part B of the IDEA Law describes the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for children 3-21 years old. A referral to evaluate your child can be made by you, a teacher, doctor, or child development program. If your child is deemed eligible for special education, an IEP will be created. Your child’s IEP will be evaluated and modified on a yearly basis, with an extensive review performed every three years. To learn more about the IEP process, click here.