An Overview of Related Services Under IDEA (page 2)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA '97) mandates that "...all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education [FAPE] that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living" [Section 601(d)(1)(A)]. In accordance with the IDEA '97 and other federal laws, more than 6.1 million children with disabilities (ages 3 through 21) across the nation received special education and related services in the 1998-99 school year (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). What, precisely, are related services, and why are they an important part of educating children with disabilities? Who is eligible for related services, and how are related services delivered? This publication briefly examines the answers to these and other questions by looking at:
- the related services listed in the Federal regulations;
- how students become eligible for related services;
- how related services are typically obtained for students;
- additional related services not listed specifically in the Federal regulations (i.e., artistic/cultural programs) but that can assist a student in benefiting from special education;
- how related services are typically delivered, coordinated, and funded; and
- related services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
A list of organizations that typically can provide more information about the various related services concludes this publication.
Part I. An Overview of Related Services under IDEA
Several important federal laws address the educational needs of children and youth with disabilities. One such law, passed in 1975, is the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, otherwise known as EHA or Public Law (P.L.) 94-142. This law mandated that special education and related services be made available to all eligible schoolaged children and youth with disabilities. Since the time of EHA's enactment, Federal funds have been provided to help State and local educational agencies provide special education and related services to children with disabilities.
In 1990, as part of its reauthorization by Congress, the EHA was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA (P.L. 101-476). The law was again amended in June 1997 as P.L. 105-17. The 1997 law is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—referred to hereafter as IDEA '97.
What are related services?
In general, the final regulations for IDEA '97 define the term related services as "transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education..." [§300.24(a)]. The following are included within the definition of related services:
- speech-language pathology and audiology services;
- psychological services;
- physical and occupational therapy;
- recreation, including therapeutic recreation;
- early identification and assessment of disabilities in children;
- counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling;
- orientation and mobility services;
- medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes;
- school health services;
- social work services in schools;
- parent counseling and training; and
- transportation. [§300.24(a)].
With the exception of "early identification and assessment of disabilities in children," each of these services will be discussed in this the definition of related services contained within IDEA '97's regulations goes on to define these individual terms more specifically. This information will be provided in Part II of this News Digest.
Who is eligible for related services?
Under IDEA '97, a student must need special education to be considered eligible for related services (unless the related service needed by the child is considered special education rather than a related service under State standards) [§300.7(a) (2)(ii)]. A child must have a full and individual evaluation to determine:
- if he or she has a disability as defined under IDEA '97, and
- if, because of that disability, he or she needs special education and related services.
For the purposes of this publication on related services, however, it is useful to know that the law requires that a child be assessed in all areas related to his or her suspected disability. While looking in detail at evaluation is beyond the scope of this Digest Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) offers several publications that discuss what is involved when a child is evaluated. We refer you to Your Child's Evaluation (BP1), Questions Often Asked by Parents About Special Education Services Questions and Answers about IDEA (ND21). All of these publications are available on our Web site (www.nichcy.org) in English and in Spanish or by contacting NICHCY directly. This includes, if appropriate, evaluating the child's:
- social and emotional status,
- general intelligence,
- academic performance,
- communicative status, and
- motor abilities.[§300.532(g)]
A variety of assessment tools and strategies must be used to gather relevant functional and developmental information about the child §300.532(b)]. The evaluation must be sufficiently comprehensive so as to identify all of the child's special education and related services needs, whether or not those needs are commonly linked to the disability category in which he or she has been classified [§300.532(h)].
If the evaluation shows that the child does, indeed, have a disability and that, because of that disability, he or she needs special education and related services, then he or she meets the criteria for special education and related services.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Dissemination Center.
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