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The Individualized Education Program, usually called an IEP, is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet your child's special needs. Every child who qualifies for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must have an IEP. The IEP is the foundation document that details all the special education and related services needed for a student to receive a free appropriate public education, or FAPE. A meeting to develop the IEP must be held within 30 days of determining that the child is eligible to receive special education services.
The Center for Infants and Children with Special Needs at Cincinnati Children's provides resources to help families find the special education programs and supports they need.
The parent plays a vital role on the IEP team, along with educators and other qualified professionals. This team works collaboratively to develop the child's IEP. Information gathered during the evaluation process, sometimes referred to as a multifactored evaluation or MFE, will be used in the development of the special education services and supports to address the unique learning needs of your child. The IEP team includes:
Members of the IEP team may be excused from attending if they submit their input to the team in writing and if the parent consents.
Present Levels of Performance describes the child's current skills in academic and functional areas. This is objective information that includes how your child's disability affects progress in the general curriculum and appropriate activities. The IEP considers the strengths of the child, concerns of the parents, family and student vision of the future, results of the most recent multifactored evaluation, and academic, developmental and functional needs of the child.
Identification of Needs describes the factors that are interfering with a child making progress in the general curriculum. These are the needs that will require specially designed instruction. If there are too many needs to address within a year, the team will usually prioritize them.
Annual Goals are written that are specific, measurable and designed to address your child's unique educational needs in academic and functional areas. Short-term objectives will only be required for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Student progress on reaching goals is measured and reported back to the parents, usually at the same time that report cards are distributed. If a child is not making progress, this is often a signal that teaching strategies and instructional materials need to be evaluated.
Identification of Services describes the specially designed services / instruction needed to help the child reach annual goals, progress in the general education curriculum, participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities, and be educated with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate. These supports can include a variety of related services, supplementary aids, modifications and accommodations that will enable the child to benefit from the special education program designed in the IEP:
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for a child is assumed to be the general education classroom. This means that a child be educated and participate with nondisabled peers, to the maximum extent appropriate, in general education, extracurricular and other nonacademic activities.
Special education instruction can be provided in a number of ways, on a continuum from least restrictive to more restrictive settings. This could include instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, hospitals or institutions. If a placement outside the public school is recommended by the IEP team, such as in a private school, this option will be provided at no cost to you. If the team determines that a different setting is needed for services, an explanation of the extent to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class is required.
Special Factors must also be considered by the team when writing the IEP:
Extended School Year services, often called ESY, are special education and related services that are identified as necessary for the child to meet specific goals in the IEP. ESY differs from the regular school year program because it is designed to prevent the loss or regression of specific skills that may occur during school breaks, such as over the summer. The need for extended school year services should be discussed at an IEP meeting early enough in the school year as this process can often take time for the parents and school to agree on services. The team considers many factors including the student's individual needs, progress toward IEP goals, the nature and severity of the disability, behaviors that significantly interfere with learning, the likelihood of regression caused by school breaks and the failure to recover these critical skills in a reasonable time.
Your child's IEP must be reviewed and revised at least once a year. However, this can be done more often if you or the school request it. For example, if your child is not making progress towards goals, or you have new information about your child's disability and its impact on the educational process, it would be a good time to request an IEP meeting to consider revisions. Up to 15 states will be given permission to offer multi-year IEP's, not to exceed three years. Parents will have the option of turning down a multi-year IEP.
State Support Team 13 (former SERRC) for Southwest Ohio provides information, support and training. They have resources on their Family Network including a link to parent mentors in school districts in southwest Ohio. A directory of support teams throughout Ohio is available.
Medicaid, Schools and Waivers addresses questions about services covered through students on the Ohio Home Care or MRDD Transitions waivers.
Medicaid School Program information developed by the Ohio Department of Education.
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