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Early childhood benefits under IDEIA
Much of the discussion pertaining to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) focuses on what it provides to the parents of school-age children in New Jersey and throughout the United States. What many fail to mention, however, is that Part C of IDEIA also provides a host of benefits to children under the age of three. Part C promotes early intervention for children with disabilities followed by a smooth and controlled transition into a school environment at the appropriate age.
The early intervention process established under Part C follows several steps:
- A concerned person, such as a parent, physician or caretaker, notices what could be signs of abnormal development and contacts the New Jersey Early Intervention System.
- The lead agency provides the parent with written notice that it wishes to evaluate the child for Part C eligibility. With the parent’s consent, the lead agency screens and evaluates the child.
- If the child qualifies, the agency holds a meeting with the parent to begin compiling an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). This all takes place within 45 days of referral.
- Once an IFSP is established, the child begins receiving early intervention services according to the plan. These usually take place in the home or other appropriate environments for a child of that age.
- An IFSP review takes place every six months. A more thorough review takes place each year.
- Prior to the child’s third birthday, the IFSP team meets to form a transition plan. This must occur at least 90 days in advance.
- Team members carry out the plan and the child transitions into IDEIA’s Part B program for school-age children.
Whatever your child’s age, navigating the services available under IDEIA can be intimidating without an advocate by your side. An experienced special education attorney can help parents understand the process and do what is necessary to ensure children receive the valuable services to which they are entitled.