I was reminded recently that many families of young children are unsure of what to do when they have concerns about their child’s development. This post is a quick overview of IDEA and can be a guide for parents looking for supports.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (https://sites.ed.gov/idea/) is a “law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children”.
There are two parts that are helpful to be aware of depending on the age of your child: Part C and Part B.
Part C of IDEA supports children from birth to the age of three.
Part B of IDEA supports children from three up to the age of 22.
If you are a parent and have concerns about your child’s development, contact your local provider. How do you contact your local provider?
Early Intervention (Part C): https://sites.ed.gov/idea/statute-chapter-33/subchapter-III/1436
Google “Early Intervention” and the name of your county - the local early intervention provider should be listed. Remember, they are required by federal law to assess your child and help you access supports (varies by state) if your child qualifies. There is also an early intervention website in every state that can help you find resources. For example, in the state of Utah, Baby Watch is the state early intervention agency:
Baby Watch - https://health.utah.gov/cshcn/programs/babywatch.html
In Arizona, it is the Arizona Early Intervention Program: https://des.az.gov/services/disabilities/developmental-infant
School Age (Part B): https://sites.ed.gov/idea/statute-chapter-33/subchapter-II/1414
Your local school district is mandated to assess (once you request and sign permission to do so) your child once they turn three. The district then determines eligibility and your child may qualify for services. Many families are unaware that this resource is available BEFORE your child enters kindergarten! Contact your local school district or your state's education department to learn more.
How do you know if your child’s development is on track or if you should be concerned?
There are a lot of different things to be on the lookout for, but this website can help:
If you have concerns, don’t wait! Seek out your pediatrician, early intervention provider, a speech therapist, a psychologist, educators, occupational therapists, behavior specialists, or other appropriate providers and see what supports are available to help you and your child! To often, suggestions are made to "wait and see" when a child's development is delayed. It is important to remember that as a child ages, they are learning more and continually developing. It is critical to seek out help early before their developmental gap can widen further. If you don’t know where to start, contact 211 on your phone or http://www.211.org/ and they will put you in touch with the appropriate resources.