12. Participation of Young Children in Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Early identification of disabilities is vital for children’s healthy development. The earlier a child receives services, the better the outcome. Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal grant program that supports states in providing comprehensive early-intervention services for infants and toddlers (up to age three) with disabilities. Participating states agree to make the program available to any eligible child. States have different policies and eligibility criteria for Part C early-intervention services under the IDEA. Some supplement federal funding with state funding, while others do not. Some do extensive outreach.
What Can the Data Tell Us?
Table 21 shows that overall participation rates in Part C vary from 1.7 percent of the population in several states (Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee) to a high of 7.5 percent in Massachusetts. The average participation rate is 2.9 percent. The rate of service receipt for African American, non-Hispanic children is lower at 2.4 percent, compared to white, non-Hispanic and Hispanic children who are both at 2.8 percent. Participation rates by race and ethnicity also vary substantially by state. For instance, some states with the lowest participation rates serve a smaller percentage of children of color than white, non-Hispanic children while the state serving the largest overall share serves a greater percentage of children of color. Outreach to traditionally underserved populations may be needed to ensure they are identified and participate in early-intervention services.