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IDEA '97 Federal Law
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The Individual with Disabilities Education Act  (IDEA) Amendments of 1997

Federal law makes service available for children who have or at risk of developing disorders or handicaps.  Public Law 99-457 (Education of the Handicapped Act Amendment of 1986) mandates services to all children with handicaps between the ages of three and five.  Under this law, Congress also makes funds available for states to provide incentives for providing service for children, birth to two, at risk for developing handicaps.  Public Law 99-142 was reauthorized in 1997 to the federal law, Individualized Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, PL 105-17) and increased parent involvement in the decision making process and services to the child.  Public Law 99-457  requires that all children receiving early intervention services have an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). The IFSP includes the familys goals and objectives for the child, as well as, the family's strengths and needs (, 2004).  Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is a federally and state funded program dedicated to providing services to children between the ages of 0 and 3 with disabilities or delays. ECI provides services and support to families in their homes in an effort to help children develop and make progress (www., 2004).


The federal law expanded the level of parent participation in the following  areas:



Assessments are to include information from parents when evaluating the child's cognitive, behavioral, physical and developmental factors related to ability to progress.

Determining Eligibililty

Parents are included in the decision-making progress along with  a team of qualified professionals when determining the child's eligibility.  A copy of the final evaluation is to be given to the parents.

The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Team

The parents and the IEP team assess if the child has a disability or if the child continues to be qualify as a child with a disability. The IEP Team, along with the parents, determine the child's present levels of performance and educational needs and make modifications to the plan accordingly.  The team decided if the child continues to need services and may request additional testing from the Local Education Agency (LEA). They must administer tests and other evaluation materials requested by the IEP Team.

Parents and the LEA

The LEA cannot reevaluate the child without informed consent from the parents. If the LEA tries to contact the parents and no response is given from the parents, then reevaluation may  take place without parent consent. The LEA does not have to do future assessment on the child f the IEP Team determines no additional evaluations are needed unless the parent requests it. 


Idea Practices  [] (2004)  Date accessed:  February 29, 2004
Texas Interagency Council on Early Childhood Intervention [] (2004)  Date accessed:  February 29, 2004