Child Care services may be available to children ages two months to twelve years. Early childhood care services include an educational component which promotes school readiness. Head Start is available to economically disadvantaged children ages birth through 5 years. Special preschool education is also available to children in foster care and those from families receiving TANF or SSI, regardless of income.
Children with disabilities may also participate. To contact the CPSE, call the Committee on Special Education office and ask for the CPSE Administrator for your district. Referrals for evaluation must be made in writing. CPSE or Children’s Services may request a referral.
CPSE will make the referral itself. In either case, informed consent will be required. Consent for services is needed by the birth parent, unless rights have been terminated, or whereabouts are unknown. Under IDEA, students with disabilities are entitled to receive special educational services through their local school district from age 3 to age 18 or 21.
Special education programs at the district level are structured upon a cooperative federalism model and therefore governed by both state and federal law. IDEA is frequently described as a model of cooperative federalism. It leaves to the States the primary responsibility for developing and executing educational programs for handicapped children, imposes significant requirements to be followed in the discharge of that responsibility. Disputes over the application of the law begin at the local school district and travel through an administrative law process that is subject to judicial review. Furthermore, aspects of special education law rest on evolving civil rights jurisprudence. The LRE requirement is intended to prevent unnecessary segregation of students with disabilities, and is based on Congress’ finding students with disabilities tend to have more success when they remain with or have access to typical peers.