Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
Part C: Early Childhood Connections for Infants, Toddlers, & Families (Ages 0-3)
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), families who have infants or toddlers, from birth to age three, with disabilities or a condition that is associated with delays in their development, are entitled to certain supports, services, and rights. The section of the IDEA law that guarantees supports and services for these special needs children is called Part C. Part C provides funding for states to implement a system of early intervention services for eligible infants, toddlers and their families. In Colorado, the Part C program is referred to as Early Childhood Connections for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, or, for short, Early Childhood Connections (ECC).
The goal of Early Childhood Connections is to insure that families have quick access to a coordinated, interagency, community-based service system. The early intervention services and supports are designed to:
- Enhance the development of infants and toddlers with developmental delays; and
- Enhance the capacity of families to meet the special needs of their children both in their home and in their community.
Services that may be provided can include, but are not limited to: occupational, speech/language and physical therapies, special education teachers, and psychologists.
An infant or toddler under the age of 3 may be eligible for Early Childhood Connections in one of two ways:
I. S/he is automatically eligible if they have been diagnosed with a physical or medical condition that is typically associated with delays in development. These children do not have to undergo an evaluation to determine eligibility. Examples of such conditions include:
- Chromosomal syndromes and conditions (e.g., Down Syndrome, Fragile X);
- Congenital syndromes and conditions (e.g., Spina Bifida, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Central Nervous System malformations);
- Sensory (hearing or visual) impairments;
- Metabolic disorders (hypothyroidism, Lipidoses);
- Prenatal and perinatal infections resulting in significant medical problems (e.g., HIV, intrauterine exposure to toxic substances, Cerebral Palsy, Meningitis);
- Low birth weight infants (less than 2 lbs., 10 oz.); or
- Postnatal-acquired problems resulting in delays in development, including but not limited to severe attachment disorder.
II. If s/he is believed to be significantly developmentally delayed in one or more of the following 6 developmental areas, they will need to be evaluated to determine eligibility for Early Childhood Connections. The 6 areas are:
- Babbling/talking (communication);
- Moving (physical or motor);
- Hearing/seeing (sensory);
- Learning (cognition);
- Playing and interacting (social emotional); and
- Self-help skills (adaptive development).
A parent can request an evaluation/assessment based on any concern that they may have about their child's development. Your local ECC office can help you arrange for the assessment. To get connected to your local ECC office:
- Call (toll-free) 1.888.777.4041;
- Call the Colorado Department of Education at 303.866.6943; or
- Visit the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) web site:Early Intervention Colorado and click on the Get Connected page.
The evaluation/assessment is provided at no cost to you, and should be conducted within 45 days of your initial request.
The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is responsible for implementing the Part C program statewide. To find out more about the program, please visit their web site. (Please Note: this web site requires that you use Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.x or above.)
The Legal Center publishes an excellent resource for families on this topic entitled First Steps to Discovery: A Parent Guide to Colorado's Early Childhood Services Under Parts C and B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Part I of the publication summarizes Part C of the IDEA, which covers services for infants, toddlers, and families. Part II of the publication summarizes Part B of IDEA, which covers preschool services for children three and older.