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Saturday, November 5, 2022

Special Ed, Head Start, and COVID

In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. II also discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters.  And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. 

A letter from Valerie C. Williams,Director Office of Special Education Programs,U.S. Department of Education, and  Katie Hamm,  Acting Director Office of Head Start U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

The Departments acknowledge that the pandemic continues to present challenges toimplementing appropriate programs and services for young children. Further, opportunities for some young children with disabilities to participate in inclusive early childhood settings have been more limited. However, OSEP and OHS want to emphasize that, notwithstanding these challenges, children with disabilities retain their rights under IDEA to receive appropriate specialeducation and related services in accordance with their individualized education programs (IEP). No IDEA requirements have been waived. However, particularly since the pandemic, both OSEP and OHS have quantitative data and other information that indicate—  
  • Initial evaluations to determine eligibility of children suspected of having a disability are being delayed;
  • Special education and related services included in IEPs are not being provided timely, or IEPs are not being fully implemented; and
  • Educational placement decisions for children with disabilities are not being made in accordance with IDEA’s LRE requirements.
SEAs, LEAs, and Head Start programs all have responsibilities for implementing IDEA:
  • SEAs are responsible for establishing and enforcing policies and procedures to ensure full implementation of child find and other IDEA requirements to ensure that FAPE is made available to all eligible children with disabilities in the State;
  • LEAs are responsible for identifying, locating, and evaluating children suspected of having disabilities in a timely fashion and developing and implementing IEPs for eligible children with disabilities in accordance with the applicable IDEA requirements; and
  • Head Start programs are responsible for referring children and families for IDEA evaluations as well as supporting implementation of children’s IEPs.