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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Special needs children sitting around wooden desk with teacher

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes a free, appropriate public education available to eligible children with disabilities, and ensures special education and related services to those children. The IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to:

  • Ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents (or guardians) are protected
  • Assist states, localities, educational service agencies (e.g. the Bucks IU), and federal agencies to provide for the education of all children with disabilities
  • Assist in the implementation of statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families (or guardians) 
  • Ensure that educators and parents (or guardians) have the necessary tools to improve educational results for children with disabilities
  • Assess, and ensure the effectiveness of, efforts to educate children with disabilities

The Bucks IU and IDEA

Within Bucks County, we are the non-competitive, sole source provider of these services to students with disabilities as contracted through the individual school districts. Our 30+ years of experience providing programs and services directly related to supporting disabilities, combined with our long-standing partnerships with our county schools and school districts, enables us to comprehensively evaluate, support, and provide for the needs of these students. 

We provide direct and consultative services for students in preschool through age 21 with disabilities, with a three-part program:

  1. Evaluation and Referrals – in addition to Child Find (see below), we work to identify three-to-five-year olds with special needs to begin Early Intervention Services 
  2. Training and Consultation (TaC) – we provide technical assistance, training, and follow-up consultation for Assistive Technology, Autism, Inclusive Practices/Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports – MTSS (Academic and Behavior/Interagency), and Secondary Transition
  3. Service and Programs – designed to supplement the provision of special education and related services to meet the complex needs of students with disabilities (e.g. occupational therapy, interpreters, behavior analysts, etc.)

Child Find

An additional element of IDEA is Child Find; a mandate that requires all school districts to identify, locate, and evaluate children with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. This obligation to identify all children who may need special education services, in either public or private schools, exists even if the school is not providing special education services to the child. 

The Bucks IU is available to help districts evaluate students and can then work with the school and district for training, consultation, services, and programs they may wish to have us provide.