Commemorating the 48th Anniversary of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 1975 to Present.

By: The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 29, 2023) — On this day 48 years ago, President Gerald Ford signed into law the Education for All Handicapped (EHA) Children Act, which later became known as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA.

In the past year, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) under the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) continued to administer the IDEA to improve outcomes for children with disabilities, birth through 21, and their families and Raise the Bar to ensure access to fair, equitable and high-quality education and services.

Furthermore, OSEP awarded more than $110 million to fund new discretionary grants programs, including more than $35 million for 138 personnel preparation and professional development-related grants, during Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.

In addition to providing funding, OSERS and OSEP continued to provide the public with information and resources to help support the implementation of IDEA.

Early Childhood Programs

Yesterday, OSERS released two early childhood related documents. The first was a joint policy document with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families reaffirming the departments’ support of the inclusion of children with disabilities in high-quality early childhood programs.

The second document was a questions-and-answers document on early childhood transition. OSEP developed the Q-&-A to assists state lead agencies, early intervention services programs and providers, state educational agencies and local educational agencies in “ensuring a seamless transition for children with disabilities who received early intervention services under the IDEA Part C to eligibility for and receipt of preschool services under IDEA Part B.”

In the past 12 months, OSERS also teamed with the White House Office of Management and Budget to promote access to early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities (webinar) and released resource guides to support high-quality early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities.

Guidance, Policy and Resources

In the past year, OSERS and OSEP have released policy statements, guidance documents and other resources to help state and local agencies implement the IDEA; to support teachers, service providers and administrators with their work; and to help infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families.

In addition to the early childhood inclusion guidance released yesterday, OSEP also released:

OSEP released policy letters throughout the year to help clarify the IDEA. Policy letters included:

  • A March 2 letter clarifies that a state educational agency must accept and resolve a state complaint filed on behalf of a child who has graduated, including the requirement that the alleged violation occurred not more than one year prior to the date that the complaint is received.
  • A March 17 letter clarifies the requirements and responsibilities of state lead agencies, local educational agencies and state educational agencies for ensuring eligible children with disabilities receiving early intervention services under IDEA Part C experience a smooth and effective transition to receiving preschool services under IDEA Part B. This letter was incorporated into the previously mentioned early childhood transition Q-&-A.
  • A Nov. 7 letter on determining the location of virtual private schools for purposes of providing equitable services under the IDEA.

OSEP also released numerous resources throughout the year; however, three specific resources included:

Discipline Discussions

Throughout FY 2023, OSEP Director Valerie C. Williams released a series of blog discussions to highlight the impact and harm of exclusionary discipline for children.

The blog topics addressed:

The blogs provided resources to help support children with disabilities, parents and families, educators and service providers, and state and local educational agencies.

Expect, Engage, Empower: Successful Transitions for All!

OSERS took on a joint initiative between OSEP and the Rehabilitation Services Administration, also part of OSERS, to improve secondary transition experiences for students with disabilities.

The Expect, Engage, Empower (3E): Successful Transitions for All! initiative will continue through the coming year; however, in 2023, OSERS held a kick-off event and the first webinar in the 2023-2024 Symposium Series.

Additionally, OSERS launched a 3E blog series that will continue through 2024. The first two blogs provided an overview of the 3E initiative and addressed student-led decision-making in schools.

OSEP Fast Facts

OSEP continued its popular OSEP Fast Facts series releasing four Fast Facts since the 47th anniversary of the IDEA. The OSEP Fast Facts included:

Looking Ahead

OSERS and OSEP recognize the multitude of challenges that come with implementing the IDEA, but the offices look forward to improving outcomes for individuals with disabilities and their families in the years to come.

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Last modified on January 3, 2024