IDEA and Early Childhood Special Education
Research has documented that early intervention can provide both intermediate and long-term benefits for young children with disabilities.
• IDEA requires preschool services for children with disabilities ages 3-5
• States that receive IDEA funds for early intervention must serve all infants and toddlers with developmental delays or established risk conditions
• States may also serve infants and toddlers who are identified as at-risk
In the State of Georgia special needs children, ages 3-9, may be identified as having
SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY (SDD)
This term refers to a delay in a child’s development in adaptive behavior, cognition, communication, motor development or emotional development to the extent that, if not provided with special intervention, the delay may adversely affect a child’s educational performance in age-appropriate activities. The term does not apply to children who are experiencing a slight or temporary lag in one or more areas of development, or a delay which is primarily due to environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage or lack of experience in age appropriate activities.
Initial eligibility must be established, and an IEP in place, on or before the child’s
seventh birthday for early childhood services. SDD eligibility is determined by assessing a child in each of the five skill areas of adaptive development, cognition, communication, physical development (gross and fine motor), and social/emotional development. Any child who scores at least 2 standard deviations below the mean in one or more of the five areas or 1½ standard deviations below the mean in two or more areas is eligible.
For children who are kindergarten age or older, initial eligibility also includes
documented evidence that the impact on educational performance is not due to:
(a) Lack of appropriate instruction in reading or literacy readiness
(b) Lack of appropriate instruction in math or math readiness skills;
(c) Limited English proficiency
(d) Visual, hearing or motor disability
(e) Emotional disturbances
(f) Cultural factors
(g) Environmental or economic disadvantage.
For children eligible under SDD with hearing; visual; communication; or orthopedic impairments, a complete evaluation must be obtained to determine if the child also meets
eligibility criteria for deaf/hard of hearing, visual impairments, speech and language impairments or orthopedic impairments. Students with sensory, physical or communication disabilities must receive services appropriate for their needs, whether or nor specific eligibility is determined.
Placement and Service Delivery
(1) Preschool-aged (3-5) children meeting eligibility criteria as SDD and needing special education services may receive those services in a variety of placement options. IDEA requires that early intervention services be provided in natural environments to the greatest extent possible, as determined by the child’s IEP Team and participation by other agencies, such as, but not limited to:
(a) Regular Early Childhood Setting; Head Start Programs Georgia Pre-K Classes Community Daycare Private Preschools
(b) Separate Early Childhood Special Education Setting
(c) Day School
(d) Residential Facility
(e) Service Provider Location
- National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities/Babies
- Council for Exceptional Children/ Division for Early Childhood
- Babies Can’t Wait/ Georgia Department of Human Resources
- The Early Childhood Outcomes Center
- National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center
- National Association for the Education of Young Children