Delivering Related Services
As was described in Part I, once a child has been evaluated and found eligible for special education and related services, the IEP team develops an individualized education program (IEP) for the child. This will include specifying the special education and related services that the child will receive as part of his or her free appropriate public education (FAPE). Beyond specifying the related services, however, is the delivery of the services. This section looks briefly at how school districts typically provide children with disabilities with related services.
Who provides related services?
Providers of related services in the schools typically include (but are not limited to) professionals such as: school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, school health professionals, speech-language pathologists, and occupational and physical therapists. The training and credentialling of these professionals will vary from State to State.
IDEA requires that related services are provided by qualified personnel. However, neither the law nor the regulations specify the levels of training that an individual needs in order to be considered “qualified.” It is the State that establishes what constitutes “suitable qualifications for personnel providing special education and related services” [§300.136(a) (1)(ii)]. This includes establishing the “highest entry-level academic degree needed for any State-approved or - recognized certification, licensing, registration, or other comparable requirements that apply to a profession or discipline” in which a person is providing special education and related services [§300.136(a)(2)].
The IDEA also permits, but does not require, the use of paraprofessionals and assistants who are appropriately trained and supervised to assist in the provision of special education and related services. The use of paraprofessionals and assistants is contingent upon State law, regulations, or written policy giving States the option of determining whether paraprofessionals and assistants can be used to assist in the provision of special education and related services, and, if so, to what extent their use would be permissible (U.S. Department of Education, 1999, pp. 12561- 12562).
Apart from the requirements of the IDEA ‘97 and standards of training that individual States establish as “suitable qualifications” for their various related services providers, a number of professional organizations exist and publish standards as well. These groups can be a valuable source of information to parents and professionals alike. We have provided the contact information, including Web sites, for many of these professional associations at the end of this News Digest.
While States may consider the recognized standards of professional organizations in deciding what are “appropriate professional requirements in the State,” there is nothing in the statute or the regulations that requires States to do so (U.S. Department of Education, 1999, p. 12560; see also §300.136(b)(3)].
Reprinted with the permission of the National Dissemination Center.
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