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Eligibility definitions for infants and toddlers with disabilities under IDEA Source: nectac.org
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Short Description: A major challenge to state and jurisdictional policy makers in implementing the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, Part C under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA, 2004)

Content Inside: TA Center early childhood national IDEAs partnerships results NECTAC Notes Issue No. 21 July 2006 State and Jurisdictional Eligibility Definitions for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Under IDEA by Jo Shackelford A major challenge to state and jurisdictional policy makers in implementing the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, Part C under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA, 2004), continues to be determining definitions of developmental delay and criteria of eligibility for services to young children, birth through 2 years of age, and their families. Under Part C, participating states and jurisdictions must provide services to two groups of children: those who are experiencing developmental delays, and those who have a diagnosed mental or physical condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay. In addition, states may choose to serve children who are at risk of experiencing a substantial developmental delay if early intervention services are not provided. (See Table 1 on page 2 for the statutory language relating to eligibility of infants and toddlers under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Please note that as of June, 2006, federal regulations for this reauthorization have not been proposed. However, there were no substantive changes in the law in this area that would suggest regulatory changes. When the regulations are available this paper will be revised accordingly.) The task of defining the eligible population has been a challenge for states. Eligibility criteria influence the numbers and types of children needing or receiving services, the types of services provided, and ultimately the cost of the early intervention system. Over the years, several states have revised their definitions: some have narrowed their eligibility criteria and others have expanded them. Soon after the creation of the Early Intervention Program under IDEA, many states were interested in serving children at risk, but fears of highly increased numbers of eligible children and, therefore, highly increased costs, reduced the number of states that included children at risk in their eligibility definition. Several states that are not serving children at risk under their definition indicate that they will monitor the development of these children and refer them for early intervention services as delays are manifested. Continued... The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

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