Early Intervention For Special Needs Children in Maine (page 2)
The Handicapped Infants and Toddlers Program was set up in 1986 by Public Law 99-457, Part H. It offers federal money to any state that will establish a system of early intervention services to children with special needs, age 0-2, and their families. The intent of early intervention is to identify and treat certain conditions or needs early, and thereby lessen or prevent the effects.
Part H regulations set out specific guidelines a state must follow in order to receive the federal funds. Each program must be designed to include:
1. A focus on the family
This represents a significant shift in philosophy from past service delivery systems. Part H recognizes that every family has resources and skills of its own and considers these in the process of early intervention. A family is offered support and education; its strengths and needs are used to determine, write, and implement the Individualized Family Service Plan, the IFSP. It is the written document of goals and objectives spelling out the program of services and therapies.
2. A multi-disciplinary assessment
The IFSP must be based on results from a number of formal tests, observations, and interviews gathered by family and professionals from different disciplines, i.e. medical doctors, speech pathologists, psychologists, etc. The child's present level of
performance (what he/she can do, as well as weaknesses) is considered.
3. Comprehensive services provided by qualified personnel
The state must have available a full range of services, including medical and social work and parent education. Related services are those that support the direct services; they include, but are not limited to: transportation, physical and occupational therapies, counseling, speech and language, recreation, and audiology.
4. Interagency cooperation, with public monitoring
Different state and private agencies may share responsibility for the funding and providing of services, but they will be coordinated by one state department.
5. Procedural safeguards
Parents and their children will have certain rights regarding their involvement with the early intervention system. Although each state may add to what the federal law requires, these three parental rights must be included:
- the right to give or deny consent at any step in the process;
- the right to confidentiality of all information regarding their family;
- the right to challenge and appeal any decisions made during the process.
6. FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education)
The sum of therapies and services designed for each family and child constitute the free and appropriate public education guaranteed by Part H to every child with special needs who is under five years of age.*In order to be considered "appropriate", the program must conform to all of the above (#1-#5) and place the child in the "least restrictive environment"(LRE). This is the setting where the child can best benefit from the services and, at the same time, be included with children without disabilities as much as possible.
*Early intervention services for children under three in Maine include evaluation, the Individualized Family Service Plan, and case management. For children three to five, FAPE services include evaluation, the IFSP, case management, and any needed therapy.
Early intervention services are those offered to children with special needs from birth through age two. If a condition or need that may affect a child's development is found and treated early, the effects may be lessened or prevented. When a child is identified with a disability or is deemed to be at risk of a developmental delay, a program of therapies/strategies is then designed. The federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, covers special education for children of all ages and guarantees rights to children with special needs who are under five.
Each state writes its own policies to carry out the federal law. Maine has chosen to directly fund only the special education services for 3-5 year olds, but help is available to children from birth through two, also.
If I think my child has a disability, what should I do first?
If your child was not identified at birth with a disability, and a physician or nurse is not aware of your concern, you could start by discussing it with one of them. Or you can call Child Development Services, the agency that is in charge of Childfind in Maine.
What should I say to them?
Tell them you think your child may need early intervention services and ask how to go about getting an assessment done. Start and keep a file of names and phone numbers of people you talk to, and write down all the information they give you. If there's anything you don't understand, ask for explanations.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- Problems With Standardized Testing