Education of the Handicapped Act and its Impact

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In 1975, the Education of the Handicapped Act (PL 94-142) was established; this act gave the right for “all children to a free and appropriate education, regardless of handicapping conditions” (BOOK). However, before this act, children with disabilities did not attend school consequently, in 1986 congress amended PL 94-142 and extended this law to what is known as the Handicapped Infants and Toddlers Act of 1986 (PL 99-457). Before the implementation of PL 99-457 early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities were not part of the legislation. The Handicapped Infants and Toddlers Act provides states the opportunity to grant early intervention to a group of infants not previously identified by the service system, thereby preventing delay. PL 99-457 has two parts: Part B and Part H. Part B extended the rights of PL 94-142 to children ages 3 to 5 years of age. Part H included an early intervention services to children from birth to 2 years of age. PL 99-457 main purposes included “(1) enhance the development of handicapped infants and toddlers, (2) minimize the need for special education costs after handicapped infants and toddlers reach school age, (3) increase the capabilities of handicapped individuals so they can live more independently, and (4) enhance the capacity of families to meet the special needs of their infants and toddlers with handicaps” (GLORIA). Demographically, PL 99-457 focused on children who suffered from developmental delays and that were diagnosed with physical and mental conditions or those who had conditions that typically might result in delay. According to Samuel J. Meisels, “several researchers have suggested that early intervention is justified in part by the potential of the... ... middle of paper ... ... PL 99-457 […] presents many challenges for it requires communication and coordination between two complex systems—the health system and the education system” (MORSE). The health system (Title V) and the education system (PL 94-142) ultimately ran into problems because the health system and education system, both with different knowledge and training, could not deviate from their professional background even though their end plan would result in what is in the best interest of the client. Collaboration among all interagency and multidisciplinary and contributing providers such as the educators, mental health professionals, families and other early childhood workers is what the Handicapped Infants and Toddlers Act, especially Part H, represent. Each participating providers have the same, ultimate goal and that is to provide the best service possible to the client.

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