Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Services

physician with boy in wheelchair

Both early intervention and school-aged services are available through our nation’s special education law—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Part C of IDEA deals with early intervention services (birth through 36 months of age), while Part B applies to services for school-aged children (3 through 21 years of age). Even if your child has not been diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP), he or she may be eligible for IDEA services.

Part C of IDEA: Early Intervention for Babies and Toddlers

Early intervention services can help children from birth through 36 months of age learn new skills, whether they have been identified recently with motor and movement delays or already have a CP diagnosis. Early intervention services can start even before a CP diagnosis is made.

Depending on the child’s needs, early intervention services might include family training, counseling, and home visits; occupational, physical, or speech therapy; hearing loss services; health, nutrition, social work, and assistance with service coordination; assistive technology devices and services; and transportation.

Before Part C services start, an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed by a team, which includes the parents and all providers who work with the child and the family. The IFSP describes the child’s present level of development, the family’s strengths and needs, the specific services to be provided to the child and the family, and a plan to transition to public school.

To learn more about early intervention services for babies and toddlers, visit the Center for Parent Information and Resources websiteexternal icon.

Part B of IDEA: Services for School-Aged Children

Services for school-aged children with developmental disabilities (3 through 21 years of age) are provided free of charge through the public school system. Among the services covered under IDEA are special education; related services such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy; and supplementary aids and services, such as adaptive equipment or special communication systems.

Before Part B services start, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed for children 3 through 21 years of age who qualify for special education services from school districts. An IEP is similar to an IFSP, but more focused on the child’s goals rather than on the family’s goals.

To learn more about Part B services for school-aged children, visit the Center for Parent Information and Resources websiteexternal icon.