Today, after over two decades of waiting, the early childhood special education community received welcome news that the U.S. Department of Education has finalized regulations for IDEA’s Infant and Toddlers with Disabilities Program, known as Part C. IDEA Part C serves over 340,000 infants, toddlers and their families.
In a conference call with stakeholders this morning, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that the “regulations focus on outcomes for children with disabilities and their families” and Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy stated, “early intervention works”, and emphasized how critical it is for our nation’s future that children with disabilities enter school ready to succeed in “integrated and inclusive classrooms”.
CEC – and its Division on Early Childhood – have been pressuring the Department to release these regulations which correspond to changes Congress made to IDEA in 2004, but until today, the release has been delayed causing frustration and confusion within the field. CEC applauds the Administration for its commitment to releasing the final Part C regulations.
The IDEA Part C final regulations include many changes to the current regulations, which were issued in 1992 and were subject to technical changes in 1999. As a service to the to the early childhood special education field, CEC together with DEC and the IDEA Infant and Toddlers with Disabilities Coordinators Association will release a side-by-side document comparing the new regulations to the old regulations later this month. For more information on the Part C program, read CEC’s Federal Outlook for Exceptional Children. Stay tuned for more information on the CEC/DEC/ITCA side-by-side!
In the meantime, below are selected changes included in the new regulations:
Individualized Family Service Plan
- IFSP Team is required to be comprised of the parent and two or more individuals from separate disciplines or professions with one of these individuals being the service coordinator.
- Clarifies that if the lead agency determines a child to be eligible for Part C services between 45 and 90 days prior to the toddler‘s third birthday, the lead agency must notify (consistent with any opt-out policy adopted by the
State), not only the local educational agency where the toddler resides, but also the state education agency, as soon as possible after the toddler‘s eligibility determination.
Child Find, Evaluations, and Assessments
- Identifies the major components of the statewide comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary interagency system by specifically distinguishing between pre-referral activities (public awareness and child find), referral, and post-referral IFSP activities (including screening, evaluations, assessments, and IFSP development, review, and implementation).
- Requires each lead agency, as part of its public awareness obligation, to provide for informing parents of toddlers about preschool programs under section 619 of IDEA not fewer than 90 days prior to the toddler‘s third birthday.
- Requires primary referral sources to refer a child to the Part C program ―as soon as possible but in no case more than seven days after identification.
- Requires that, within 45 days after the lead agency or early intervention service (EIS) provider receives a referral of a child, the screening (if applicable), initial evaluation, initial assessments (of the child and family), and the initial IFSP meeting for that child must be completed (45-day timeline).
- Adds an exception to the 45-day timeline if the parent has not provided consent to the initial screening, evaluation, or assessment of the child, despite documented, repeated attempts to obtain parental consent.
- Requires the lead agency to ensure completion of the initial evaluation, assessments, and IFSP meeting as soon as possible after parental consent is provided.
- Requires early intervention services to be provided as soon as possible after parental consent.
- Sets forth the specific exceptions to the parental consent required before a participating agency may disclose personally identifiable information under these regulations.
- Requires that, for toddlers with disabilities who may be eligible for preschool services under Part B of IDEA, the lead agency notify (consistent with any optout policy adopted by the State), not only the local educational agency (LEA) where the toddler resides, but also the State educational agency (SEA), and revise the timeline for the notification to occur not fewer than 90 days before the toddler‘s third birthday.
- Clarifies that the State‘s application must include, as part of coordination of all resources, those methods the State uses to implement the payor of last resort requirements.
Maintenance of Effort
- A separate rulemaking process will be followed to address maintenance of effort provisions due to economic changes States may have experienced since the May 2007 release of the IDEA Part C proposed regulations.
In an effort to provide the field with technical assistance and information regarding the new final Part C regulations, the Department will host webinars and a one-day training session prior to CEC’s Division on Early Childhood’s Annual Conference on November 16th at National Harbor, Maryland in the Washington, DC area.
Lastly, the Part C regulations will take effect 30 days after their publication in the federal register, which is expected in the next few weeks.