Describe the federal and state regulations implementing IDEA Part C related to evaluation and assessment

  • Explain requirements for assisting families to identify their concerns, priorities and resources

  • Explain requirements for conducting a multidisciplinary evaluation and assessment to determine a child's eligibility for Part C early intervention

  • Explain requirements for completing an ongoing assessment of a child's strengths and needs

Summary of Activities

Activities Time Allotment
Overview of the Scope of Laws and Regulations addressing early intervention 1 hour
Essential Content regarding what providers and families need to know about evaluation and assessment 1-2 hours
Application and Reflection questions 1 -1 1/2 hours
Recommended Reading 1 hour

 Why This Topic was Selected
Session 1, Legal Requirements for Evaluation and Assessment, focuses on the federal and state laws and regulations that address the evaluation and assessment process for early intervention services under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

It is important to understand these federal and state law and regulations because they:

  • Impact day-to-day practices in early intervention evaluation and assessment
  • Provide essential guidance about the legal framework for Part C early intervention services in general

Influence on Early Intervention Practice

Part C, Legal Requirements and Regulations, affect daily early intervention services and practices in both dramatic and subtle ways.  These legal requirements set the parameters for critical issues with regards to evaluation and assessment.  These parameters include:

  • The definition of early intervention services
  • Who qualifies for early intervention services
  • How to determine a child's eligibility for services
  • Who is qualified to conduct early intervention evaluations and assessments
  • The family's role in evaluation and assessment
  • Required components of an evaluation and assessment for each child and family
  • Timelines for determining eligibility for services

Understanding the basic provisions in federal and state laws and regulations aids both providers and families in sharing correct information, and helps interested parties avoid misinterpretation of the issues. A shared understanding of the laws and regulations among consumers, providers, and policy makers can help to ensure timely and appropriate delivery of services.

Providing a Framework for Early Intervention Services

Why is it important to know what's in federal and state laws and regulations?
The first reason is that these legal requirements, summarized in Table 1, provide a framework for the early intervention services intended to help families achieve the desired outcomes for young children with developmental delays. The United State Congress first passed Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1986 to provide disabled infants and toddlers and their families, with a comprehensive, coordinated, statewide interagency system of quality early intervention services. The IDEA and the accompanying Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) reflect the influence of the political, social, health, and education trends of the 1960s, 70s and 80s which culminated in the development of a national public policy, codified in law as the IDEA (Meisels & Shonkoff, 2000).

Table 1. Federal and State Law and Regulations Addressing Early Intervention

  Federal State
Law Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 1986 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.
(Amended 1991; 1997)
Education Article, Section 8-416 Annotated Code of Maryland
Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, 1993
34 C.F.R. Part 303
(Amended 1998; 1999)
Early Intervention Services for Eligible Infants and Toddlers and their Families
(COMAR 13A.13.01)

Maryland Regulations

In order to assure receipt of federal funds for early intervention services, each state is obligated to incorporate the basic Part C provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act into their state laws and regulations. In support of the IDEA, regulations were issued in Maryland to implement the Infants and Toddlers Program in 24 local jurisdictions.

The purpose of the Maryland state regulations is to:

  • Set forth definitions
  • Implement a comprehensive, coordinated, statewide interagency system of early intervention services
  • Clarify local lead agency responsibilities
  • Codify the State Interagency Coordinating Council
  • Maximize funding sources
  • Enhance the capacity of families to meet the needs of their children
  • Assure that the system is in effect not later than July 1, 1991 [COMAR 13A.13.01.01.]

Maryland has one statewide early intervention program that is administered in 24 local jurisdictions. Eligibility criteria are the same throughout the state. Day-to-day operations of the early intervention program in each jurisdiction, however, may not be identical due to factors such as population, number of children served, and partnerships with other community agencies serving families with very young children who have special needs.