Happy 25th birthday to a great idea

Twenty-five years ago today, President Ronald Reagan signed into law a bill that established the federal early intervention program, now known as the Infant and Families program, Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It took nearly eight years to bring every state on board to create a statewide system of early intervention services for children between the ages of birth and 3 years.

One of the most powerful aspects of the early intervention program is that services are delivered in the context of the young child’s family. Services are designed to help FAMILIES know how to help their child learn and grow. As a result, families gain the skills they need to work effectively with schools if their child needs additional supports starting in kindergarten.

In my 20 years in the world of disability policy, I’ve seen a lot of change. I’ve seen a lot of kids prove everyone wrong who told them what they would never be able to do. So, today, let’s celebrate all the hard earned victories of these young kids who learned to walk, to talk, to make friends, to be fully engaged members of their families and communities.

Let’s also celebrate their families and friends who supported them. Link to our Make the First Five Count page to learn about our new awareness and advocacy effort designed to give children with or at risk of autism, developmental delays or disabilities the right support they need to be school-ready and build a foundation for a lifetime of learning.

We want to spread the word about the importance of early intervention and let every parent know more about their child’s development, where to go for help if something doesn’t feel right, and how to take action early.

On to the next 25 years!


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