The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) actively works with other agencies, including the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to provide families with coordinated, comprehensive, multidisciplinary services and funding for both Part C and Part B services of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). This page contains information about upcoming events and provides background information regarding intervention services.
Upcoming conferences and learning opportunities related to children with special needs
Directory now available
Information on resources in Minnesota available to children with disabilities has been compiled in a directory, Early Childhood Services, available at the Minnesota Department of Health. It contains general resource descriptions, plus specific local resources, including what is available in different counties, on Indian reservations, or through school districts. The directory also contains important contact information for local Interagency Early Intervention Committees.
A free copy of the Minnesota STAR Program Directory of Funding and Assistive Technology Resources can be requested through the Minnesota STAR Program. The directory identifies statewide and national resources that provide funding for assistive technology, alternative financing for assistive technology, device loans, device demonstration, and equipment reuse and/or refurbishing. According to the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, assistive technology is defined as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”
Child care assistance available
If you need assistance locating an inclusive child care center or need general child care assistance, please visit Center for Inclusive Child Care or Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network.
Find out more about interagency cooperation
In order to support better outcomes for children and youth with disabilities, coordination of providers and resources leads to more comprehensive and effective interventions across home, school and community. The Minnesota System of Interagency Coordinating (MnSIC) -- which involves the Minnesota Departments of Human Services, Health, Education, Corrections, Employment and Economic Development, Commerce, and Human Rights --provides information and resources to anyone involved with the design and implementation of an interagency coordinated system for improving and delivering these services.
NECTAC is an important resource
Part B and C coordinators, social workers, technical assistance providers and others who work with young children with disabilities may be interested in discussion groups, publications, webinars, and conference calls regarding the latest news in Part C and Part B services. Professionals working with children with special needs all over the United States can refer to National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center NECTAC for some of this information, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Education.
What is IDEA?
The provision of services to children with special needs aged birth through 21 in Minnesota are federally governed through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, Public Law 108-446). Congress established IDEA in 1986 in recognition of “an urgent and substantial need” to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities, to reduce educational costs by minimizing the need for special education through early intervention, to minimize the likelihood of institutionalization, and to enhance the capacity of families to meet their needs. IDEA was reauthorized in 2004.
Part C of IDEA covers the delivery of services for children under age 3 and this program is called Help Me Grow, while Part B of IDEA covers the delivery of services for children ages 3 through 21 and this program is called Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE). There are also regulations for Part C services specific to the State of Minnesota documented in Minn. R. 3525.1350. Help Me Grow is an interagency family centered program. Services for children with special needs are designed to promote early learning and development and to prepare children for school age services. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) actively works with other agencies, including the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to provide families with coordinated, comprehensive, multidisciplinary services and funding for both Part C and Part B services.
DHS, and the 86 counties under its supervision, has responsibilities for helping locate and identify eligible children, especially children who are involved in a substantiated case of abuse or neglect, who are homeless, born prematurely, or face mental health challenges. There are 94 Interagency Early Intervention Committees (IEICs) within the 86 counties that have been serving as the local interagency infrastructure for early intervention services since 1985. The Minnesota Legislature has charged IEICs with building local system capacity to address the multiple and complex family and young child needs. They are responsible for implementing the referral process and procedures to identify infants and toddlers with disabilities in their local area, as well as procedures for evaluation, assessment and service provision and payment.
IEICs are composed of representatives of school districts, social services and community health agencies, early childhood organizations, and parents of children with disabilities. The county social services role on IEICs is to assist in the development, implementation and maintenance of policies and procedures for the following: public awareness and Child Find activities, health, education, and human service needs assessment, IFSP development, implementation, and review of IFSP supports and services, procedural safeguards and parent rights, allocation of funds, data sharing, and evaluation and eligibility.
Responsibilities for specific populations of children under age 3 are spelled out in the Reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) now referred to as the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, and the 2004 reauthorization of IDEA. Specifically, all children under age 3, who are involved in a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect, are to be referred to the Interagency Early Intervention System. This amendment was based on research showing that many children involved in substantiated cases of abuse and or neglect have a disability or are at greater risk for a disability. This article can be found at http://edocs.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Legacy/DHS-4483-ENG (PDF). There are also provisions in IDEA that a referral be made for any infants and toddlers affected by illegal substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure (IDEA 2004, §637(a)(6)).
Additional research shown in a report published in April 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Developmental Status and Early Intervention Service Needs of Maltreated Children,” (PDF) finds that children under the age of 3 who have been maltreated are at substantial risk of experiencing subsequent developmental problems. It estimates that the rates of developmental and behavioral problems are “well above those in the general population and the rates of environmental risk and serious problems within the dyadic relationship between child and caregiver are above those of children typically encountered by Part C service providers.” (The terminology used to describe people with developmental disabilities has changed over time. While DHS supports the use of “people first” language within its documents, certain outdated terms may be found within historical and official documents, such as statues and reports.)
What is Part C?
Help at an early age can make a difference in the lives of all children. Very young children may be eligible for early intervention services that promote their early learning and development, and family capacity. Minnesota’s eligibility criteria now allows more children under age 3 to receive early intervention services. Children can be referred for any of the following reasons: (1) a diagnosed physical or mental condition or disorder that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay regardless of whether the child has a demonstrated need or delay at the time of evaluation, (2) developmental delay in one or more areas, (3) anytime a person or parent are concerned about an infant, toddler or preschooler’s development. Taking a “wait and see” approach prevents children from getting the early help they need. By working together, families can develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to meet the needs of their children.
Early intervention services include: assessment and evaluation, assistive technology, audiology, family training and counseling, nursing services, nutrition, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological services, respite, service coordination, social work, special instruction, speech therapy, transportation and vision services. The first step in determining if a child and his/her family could benefit from any of these supports and services is a developmental evaluation or screening that looks at all areas of child development. These evaluations are free. Further information about evaluations and local contact numbers to call to initiate a referral is available at the Minnesota Department of Health’s Web site on: Early Childhood Services. Direct referrals can be made to 1-866-693-GROW (4769), or by making a referral online at Help Me Grow online referrals.
Once a child is found eligible for Help Me Grow, the family and the interagency team develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which describes the plan of services and supports the family will receive in their natural environment and the roles and responsibilities of those involved. The IFSP is both a process and a document, and it is the heart of early childhood intervention. Goals, objectives and services provided by the local county are to be provided in a timely fashion and in the amount and duration agreed to on the IFSP. Further information about the IFSP process, program eligibility and other available resources are available at the Minnesota Department of Education’s Web site on Early Learning Services or MN Parents Know.
What is Part B?
State law requires that each child who has a disability have access to coordinated interagency services and a standardized Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Individualized Interagency Intervention Plan (IIIP). The IIIP is designed for children ages 3 through 21 who are involved with more than one agency, while the IEP is designed for children 3 through 21 who are only receiving services from their local school system’s department of special education. These plans are developed with a multidisciplinary team and are unique to each individual child, in conjunction with other supports and services that child may be receiving outside of the local school system. All of these services are coordinated through the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).
Children between the ages of 3 to 5 can be referred to their local Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) contact at Early Childhood Services for an evaluation to see if they qualify for special education services. These children are served in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The LRE means that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who do not have a disability. LREs often include settings such as Head Start centers, community-based preschool programs, childcare facilities, or School Readiness programs. Eligibility criteria for children ages 3 through 5 can be found at MN Rule 3525.1351. Children between the ages of 5 through 21 can be referred to determine eligibility for special education services through their local school system. For further information regarding resources available, please visit MN Parents Know. Part B of IDEA’s federal regulations updates can be found at Part B, IDEA.