There was concern from many advocacy organizations that the 2004 IDEA regulations would diminish the responsibilities of school systems, families' rights to be included in all decision making, and access to due process. Family members and other advocates had an opportunity to submit comments to the US Dept of Education on the 2004 IDEA regulations until September 6, 2005 in support of children's rights to opportunities and support in our schools. It was not until September 6, 2011 that the final regulations for the early intervention program under Part C was released. Changes were also proposed to IDEA Part B regulations on that date.
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) of the U.S. Department of Education, now has detailed information about the results of the IDEA Improvement Act of 2004. Part B is relevant for ages 3 to 21 and Part C is for ages birth through 2 years old.
It is doubtful that your children's teaching staff, school principals or school districts will be comfortably familiar with the changed IDEA regulations even when several more years have passed, so please patiently share with them any information that is relevant for support and encouragement of your child at school. Many teachers, administrators and school staff would prefer to focus on the day to day issues of our classrooms and districts in general or may prefer not to focus on particular students with learning challenges or other disabilities.
There may be disagreement, conflict, and what seems like sabotage in planning and implementing IEPs and supporting students in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Remember, families of children with special needs created wonderful programs for their sons and daughters when there were few if any laws concerning students with disabilities or developmental delays. They created the first wave of advocacy within their communities, working with neighbors, businesses, the faith community, school staff, and their own families. We should be able to move forward from here if they moved forward from where they started out. Our children deserve no less.
There are established advocacy organizations throughout the USA and around the world that were started by people who were only trying to create a difference in the lives of a few individuals who they believed should have a voice and an opportunity. Thousands more people with disabilities and their families, friends and advocates created small differences that we may never hear about but changed their communities forever.
Browse at your public library, local bookstore, or online retailer for books like 50 Ways to Support Your Child's Special Education: From IEPs to Assorted Therapies, an Empowering Guide to Taking Action, Every Day by Terri Mauro or Special Education: A Parent's Guide for Children's Success by Michael Bailey.
A New Era for Down Syndrome