In Idaho, children three years of age and older who need significant modifications in their educational programs may be eligible for special-education services through their school district. These five steps can help you get started in finding information about the special-education process in Idaho and making the contacts you'll need.
1. Familiarize yourself with the special-education process in Idaho by downloading the Special Education Manual 2007 from the Idaho State Department of Education site. Categories under which kids can be classified for special education are autism, cognitive impairment, deaf-blindness, deafness, developmental delay (ages 3-9), emotional disturbance, health impairment, hearing impairment, learning disability (including specific learning disability), multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment.
2. In Idaho, the process of referring a child from birth through high school for special services is called Child Find. Schools have the responsibility to identify students in need of special-education services, and parents can initiate that process by submitting a request in writing to the child's teacher, principal, or district special-education director. If your child is not yet in school and you're not sure who to contact, you can use the listing of school-district websites on the State of Idaho website, visit the site for your district, and look for information about special services or district contact information.
3. After the referral is made, your child will be evaluated to determine whether he or she is eligible for special-education services. Download a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards to understand your rights throughout the process.
4. If your child is found eligible for special-education services, the school will plan an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child. Learn more about IEPs and other special-education terms and offerings from the Special-Education FAQ on this About.com site. Wondering what an IEP looks like? You can find sample forms on the Special Education Forms page of the State Department of Education site.
5. During the evaluation and IEP process, and throughout your child's educational career, take advantage of the assistance offered by the Idaho Parents Unlimited, a parent advocacy organization that offers support and workshops for families of children with special needs. The Idaho Training Clearinghouse also offers resources and training opportunities to help you better work with the special-education system.