John H. Hager, assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education, and Alexa Posny, director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education, are pleased to share with you an important message about the newly released proposed rules for Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004.
Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Education proposed regulations to ease bureaucratic burdens, increase flexibility and assure accountability by states in helping prepare America's infants and toddlers with disabilities for success in school.
In proposed rules for Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to be published in the May 9 Federal Register, the Department sought to ensure that states provide early intervention services to children birth through age 2 in a timely and effective manner.
Part C is a $436 million program serving infants and toddlers through age 2 with developmental delays or who have diagnosed physical or mental conditions with high probabilities of resulting in developmental delays. At a state's discretion, children in that age range who are at risk of having substantial developmental delays may be eligible to receive services.
This package will help promote excellence in the early intervention services that states provide to infants and toddlers with disabilities.
The proposed rules would:
RESTRUCTURE THE CURRENT REGULATIONS to follow the order and arrangement of the statute. This organization creates a freestanding document that will be helpful to parents, lead agencies, early intervention service providers, and the publicboth in reading the regulations, and in finding the direct link between a statutory requirement and the regulation related to that requirement.
INCREASE STATE FLEXIBILITY AND OPTIONS by incorporating new provisions from IDEA that permit mediation to be available to parents at any timeeven when a due process hearing is not requestedand requiring that settlement agreements reached as a result of mediation be valid and enforceable in a court of law. States would also be given flexibility to offer parents of children ages 3 through 5 the option of continuing to receive Part C services (in lieu of providing those children a free appropriate public education under Section 619 of IDEA) and allowing states to serve those children for one, two or three years.
PROVIDE MUCH REQUESTED AND NEEDED CLARIFICATION ON COMPLEX PROVISIONS in such areas as the confidentiality, the use of public and private insurance to pay for Part C services and states responsibilities for children with surgically implanted devices such as cochlear implants.
REDUCE BURDENS ON STATES by permitting states in most cases to provide assurances rather than supporting documentation in their applications. States would be permitted to use screening in addition to evaluations to determine whether a child is suspected of having a disability.
ENSURE STATE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR CHILD FIND AND PROVISION OF EARLY INTERVENTION SERVICES by incorporating new provisions from IDEA requiring that states have in place referral, public awareness or other child find policies for children under the age of 3 who are: (1) involved in a substantiated case of abuse and neglect; (2) identified as affected by illegal substance abuse, or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure; (3) homeless; (4) in foster care; (5) wards of the state; and (6) for states that choose to allow parents to continue early intervention services for children age 3 and older, children who experience a substantiated case of trauma due to exposure to family violence.
ALIGN THE PART C REGULATIONS, WHERE PRACTICABLE, TO THE IDEA PART B REGULATIONS by minimizing the burden for those lead agencies that are also state education agencies and encouraging a streamlined system of services for children with disabilities.
Comments on the proposed regulations are welcome and will be considered in the development of the final regulations. For information on submitting comments, see the Part C Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at http://idea.ed.gov
Public hearings will be held at the following dates and locations:
June 4, from 4 to 7:30 p.m., Portland, Ore.;
June 6, from 4 to 7:30 p.m., Oklahoma City;
June 11, from 4 to 7:30 p.m., Indianapolis;
and June 14, from 3 to 7:30 p.m., Washington.
For more details on Part C and the IDEA in general, visit the Education Department's Web site at http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home.