Early Intervention and Special Education

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides for early intervention services for young children (from birth until age 3) and special education services for older children (ages 3 and older) to minimize the effects of developmental delays and learning disabilities that could otherwise limit children’s developmental and educational prospects. Early intervention can include physical, occupational, speech, and other therapies and services for young children and their families, and special education programs provide therapies and educational services. Overall, 5.3 percent of children aged 1–5 years and 11.3 percent of children aged 6–17 years received services under IDEA (data not shown). These percentages did not vary significantly by location.

Among children aged 6–17 years in all locations, boys were more likely to receive special education services than girls. Males in urban areas were slightly more likely than girls to have received early intervention services, though there were no differences in the proportion of males and females receiving early intervention in rural areas. Receipt of early intervention and special education services did not vary across locations for older or younger children.

For younger children, receipt of early intervention and special education services did not vary with household income overall or by location. For older children, however, there were some notable differences in the proportion of children receiving special education services by household income and location. Among children living in households with incomes below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), those in urban and small rural areas were significantly less likely to receive services than children in large rural areas (13.4 and 15.0 versus 21.2 percent, respectively). The reverse was true, however, for children in households with incomes of 400 percent or more of the FPL: 9.6 percent of urban children and 8.7 percent of children in small rural areas received special education services compared to only 5.3 percent of those in large rural areas. Within each location, children with household incomes below 100 percent of the FPL were generally more likely to receive special education services than children in higher income categories.

Back to Top ↑