The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
IDEA is a federal law first passed in 1975 that makes a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)—tailored to a child's individual needs—available to all eligible children with disabilities.
On This Page
IDEA has four parts:
- Part A outlines the general provisions of the law.
- Part B covers assistance for providing a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities ages 3–21. Part B, Section 619 focuses on services for children ages 3–5.
- Part C includes provisions for serving infants and toddlers with disabilities birth–2 and their families.
- Part D includes provisions for federal grants available to support activities related to improving services for children with disabilities, including personnel development, technical assistance and dissemination, technology, and parent-training and information centers.
How do states run their programs?
Each eligible state or jurisdiction has its own Part C or Part B, Section 619 programs. These programs must comply with the federal IDEA regulations, and their state rules and requirements. Each state has Part C System and Coordinator and a Part B, Section 619 Program and Coordinator.
What is Part C?
The Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities—Part C of IDEA—is a federal grant program that assists states in operating a comprehensive statewide system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers ages birth–2 with—or at state discretion, at-risk for—disabilities. Part C builds upon and provides supports and resources to assist family members and caregivers to enhance children's learning and development through everyday learning opportunities.
The goal of early intervention is to enable young children to be active and successful participants during the early childhood years and in the future in a variety of settings, in their homes, with their families, in child care, preschool or school programs and in the community.
What is Section 619?
The Preschool Grants Program—Part B, Section 619 of IDEA—is a federal grant program intended to help states ensure that all preschool-aged children ages 3–5 with disabilities receive free appropriate special education and related services in their least restrictive environment.
The goal of preschool special education services is to enable young children to be active and successful participants in home, school, and community settings resulting in positive outcomes for children and their families.
Planning Services with IFSPs and IEPs
Under the IDEA, early intervention and preschool special education programs develop individualized plans that clearly lay out the services a child and family will receive and the results the team hopes to achieve.
An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for infants and toddlers ages birth–2, and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for children ages 3–5, are both processes and documents that facilitate family members and professionals working together to improve results for children with disabilities and their families. The services identified and provided through an IFSP or IEP should include practices that research has shown to be most effective for improving the learning outcomes and promoting the development of young children ages birth–5, who have developmental delays or disabilities.