The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) of
1975, also known as Public Law 94–142, is a federal law that requires public
schools to provide appropriate educational services for all children with disabilities
between ages 3 and 21. EAHCA was strengthened and expanded with the passage of
the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Funds are granted
to individual states with special education programs that comply with federal
guidelines. These guidelines outline only the minimum standards that states
must meet in order to get the funds. After meeting these guidelines, states are
allowed flexibility in designing their own programs.
provisions of IDEA are related to:
Duration of services. Your child may be eligible
for services beyond the 180 days of a traditional school
Identifying and evaluating the disability. Your child must be
officially evaluated for having a disability through specific testing
procedures. Health, vision, hearing, social and emotional development,
intelligence, communication skills, and academic performance must all be
included during this evaluation.
Free and appropriate education.
The needs vary for each child with a disability but include education and
related services. This is a comprehensive requirement that may include services
such as transportation, psychological care, and physical therapy. But medical
services are excluded from this provision. Although some services are free,
this does not mean they are the best services available. Some services beyond
those minimally required may be available on a sliding price scale based on
Least restrictive environment. Children with special needs
are mainstreamed into traditional classrooms with normally developing children
whenever possible. Although this is not always feasible or appropriate,
attempts should be made to limit a child's
Individualized education program (IEP). Educational
programs to fit specific needs are designed based upon the evaluation of a
child's disability. Meetings are held with school personnel and parents to
identify goals and establish a program to best help the child with available
Early intervention services for infants and toddlers
with physical, cognitive, communication, social or emotional, or adaptive
developmental disabilities. This also may include infants or toddlers at risk
for these developmental problems, depending on the state.
Detailed documentation of this law is available on the
following Web site: www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/Policy/IDEA.
Primary Medical Reviewer
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Fred Volkmar, MD - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.