On Tuesday, I had the great opportunity to be on a call with Secretary Duncan and Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the president for Disability Policy, a call in which we announced the release of final regulations for the early intervention program otherwise known as Part C. The intent of the regulations is to improve the lives of infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
To further spread the great news, we held a roundtable event at the YMCA in Erie, PA and along with Maureen Cronin, Bureau Director of Early Intervention Services for the state of Pennsylvania I was able to share and discuss more about the IDEA Part C regulations. At the YMCA I spent time in the classrooms and played with some of the children, met local parents from the community and provided information regarding those regulations with parents, early intervention service providers, service coordinators and lead agency personnel. I spoke about a few of the changes that were made to ensure that the administration’s reform goals were addressed; reducing burden; increasing flexibility and most importantly—striving to improve outcomes for our infants and toddlers with disabilities. I believe we’ve done that.
It was exciting to share this information in Pennsylvania, a state that Secretary Duncan praised for their commitment to early childhood education, and as Maureen noted, one of the first states to effectively pair early intervention with early childhood and put all programs “under one roof.” Among the approximately 40 attendees at the roundtable discussion were parents and families, who were able to share some of their experiences and urged others to advocate for their children to ensure they receive the best services possible.
I was thrilled to see that everyone shared a common goal and that all were able to recognize the value of Pennsylvania’s early childhood programs, including the early intervention program serving infants and toddlers with disabilities. As one parent noted, in a time of strained budgets, investment in early childhood saves money in the long term. As a final thought, it is through collaboration that we are able to make these programs successful for our youngest populations of learners. I want to offer my thanks to all those who participated in the event and for everything they do to help meet the needs of our youngest populations.
Alexa Posny is Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education.