Where Do I Go for Evaluations
Your child has just been given a medical diagnosis of a disability…OR… you suspect your child has a disability but are not sure. Now what? Many of us parents have been lost and confused when it comes to a medical diagnosis for a disability or when we suspect our child has a disability, let alone what exactly that means for our child in the educational setting. Where do we go from here?
Getting our Children Help
We do know that the earlier we get our children “help,” the better it is for them. Does it matter how old your child is? No. Under IDEA 2004 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), “the primary purpose … is to ensure that all children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education, including special education and related services that are “designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living …” 1 For our babies and toddlers under 3 years of age, Part C of IDEA is the Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities. Part C is a “federal grant program that assists states in operating a comprehensive statewide program of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, ages birth through age 2 years, and their families.” 2 Early Intervention programs would be coordinated by a lead agency that “is responsible for ensuring that infants and toddlers suspected of having a disability are identified and that the various agencies involved have a referral system in place. Once a referral is made, a service coordinator is appointed and must complete an evaluation within 45 days.” 3
Services received under Part C of IDEA
This means that our children thru their 3rd birthday can receive services under Part C of IDEA. If eligible, your child will have an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) agreed on by the agency and you as parents, written, and then services will begin. Many times, services are provided in your home and the family is involved. At age 3, like us, we transitioned from Part C to Part B, and again, our daughter was evaluated under Part B. These evaluations will show your child’s eligibility and indicate their strengths and weaknesses. An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) will be written and services will be initiated.
Child Find and qualifying for Services
Child Find is the agency that is a “component of IDEA that requires states to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, aged birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services. This includes all children who are suspected of having a disability, including children who receive passing grades and are “advancing from grade to grade.” The law does not require children to be “labeled” or classified by their disability.4 So if your child has not been medically diagnosed with a disability (by a doctor) but you suspect he/she has a disability, he/she could qualify for services. Your child would need an evaluation so you could contact Child Find in your state. Child Find is housed under the Department of Education in each state and you can find your state’s DOE info at http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com/help/seas.htm. In Florida, parents can contact FDLRS (Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System) for an evaluation.5 Parents can also contact your child’s school and request evaluations.
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