If you have a child with special needs, it can be tough to determine what school is most appropriate for his or her talents, gifts and learning limitations. The ultimate goal of any parent is to ensure that his or her child gets the best education possible, and doesn't get left behind. You should challenge the child, yes, but not so deeply that educational progress is impossible.
That said, if you're like most parents of special needs kids, you're looking at a lot of options and you're probably feeling a little overwhelmed. What's the most appropriate education opportunity for your child?
Fortunately, you're not alone. The IDEA program is available to help your child get the level of education that he or she deserves.
The IDEA program and educational placement
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a 'funding statute.' It's a federal law that requires individual states develop policies to ensure free access to public education for children with disabilities. States that comply with IDEA receive federal funding to pay for the education of special needs children.
One of the central premises of IDEA is to require states to create an individualized education strategy for each child with special needs. This plan defines the child's current education status and future achievement goals. States must review and revise these educational plans annually for each child. IDEA also allows for parental consent and input in the education program selected.
The most important "idea" behind IDEA: Free education
For parents, one of the most important components of IDEA is that it ensures the availability of free and appropriate education to children with special needs. IDEA guarantees children with special needs an education - and associated services - to be paid by the government. These educational services must also be appropriately catered to the unique child's individual needs at all school levels - preschool, elementary school and secondary school.
Is the public education system leaving your child behind?
Parents of children with special needs can take advantage of various government services. In order to maximize your utilization of government services - and increase the success of your child's education - you may want to discuss your and your child's situation with an attorney familiar with special education law.