Related Topics:

Special Education Programs & Services
Back to top

Make an Early ACCESS Referral

To make an Early ACCESS referral for a child under the age of three or get additional information:

Back to top

What is Early ACCESS?

Early ACCESS is Iowa’s system for providing early intervention services. It is available to infants and toddlers from birth to age three years who:

  • Have a health or physical condition that may affect his or her growth and development
  • Have developmental delays in his or her ability to play, think, talk, or move

The first three years of a child’s life are the most important when setting the foundation for ongoing development. Starting supports and services early improves a child’s ability to develop and learn. The focus of Early ACCESS is to support parents to help their children learn and grow throughout their everyday activities and routines. This means Early ACCESS service providers work with parents and other caregivers to help their children develop to their fullest potential.

Back to top

How Young Children Learn

Children learn by doing the activities and routines that their caregivers and other children around them do all day long such as having snack, bath time, getting dressed, and going in the car. Children learn how to participate with their family and others in all their daily routines and activities. Service providers work with caregivers to find ways to embed learning into these activities to support children's development.

Back to top

How Early ACCESS Helps Caregivers

Early ACCESS service providers get to know families’ daily activities, priorities, and hopes for their child. Together, service providers and caregivers plan and practice interventions that can be used throughout the day in routines and activities that the family already does. Service providers support families by coaching them to help their child grow and learn. Everyday routines and activities are teaching and learning opportunities. The more children are able to practice skills, the more their development is being supported.

Back to top

Early ACCESS Providers

Iowa's area education agencies (AEAs) are responsible for administration of Early ACCESS across the state to ensure that no matter where a family lives in Iowa, services will be available. Currently, Iowa is divided into nine AEA regions.

Service coordination, assessments, evaluations and any needed early intervention services provided by Early ACCESS are available at no cost to families.

Three state agencies, known as signatory agencies, are responsible for the state-level early intervention system:

A memorandum of agreement is used to formalize their commitment to support the early intervention system. Iowa's governor designated the Department of Education to be the lead agency among the signatory agencies with fiscal and legal responsibilities.

Back to top

Administrative Rules for Early ACCESS

The Administrative Rules for Early ACCESS became effective on April 18, 2012. The rules, which established Iowa's Early ACCESS Integrated System of Early Intervention Services, are in alignment with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004, Part C and federal regulations (34 C.F.R. pt. 303).

Back to top

IDEA Part C Policies

The Iowa Department of Education is required to maintain assurances and policies in accordance with Part C of IDEA as part of its eligibility for funds under the provision of IDEA Part C.

Iowa IDEA Part C Policies

Back to top

Required Reporting

Section 618 of IDEA, Part C Data Collections – In accordance with the IDEA, as amended in 2004, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) requires public reporting of all data submitted under Section 618.

Annual Performance Report/State Performance Plan for Iowa's Part C of IDEA – In accordance with the IDEA, as amended in 2004, the OSEP requires states to submit an Annual Performance Report (APR) for IDEA Part C. The APR outlines how the state is improving opportunities and outcomes for students as measured by required compliance and performance indicators.

AEA Regional Data Profiles – In accordance with the IDEA, as amended in 2004, the OSEP has identified Indicators of performance and compliance for which states are required to annually report to the public the performance of the AEAs.

Annual Determinations for IDEA Part C – In accordance with the IDEA, as amended in 2004, the OSEP requires the Iowa Department of Education to make an annual determination for each school district and AEA regarding compliance with, and implementation of, IDEA Part C requirements. The Director of Special Education, administrative consultants, and the compliance monitoring team work together in a collaborative effort to make these determinations.

Application for Federal Funds for Iowa's Part C of IDEA

Procedural Safeguards for Early ACCESS, Iowa's Part C of IDEA – Parents have rights, known as procedural safeguards, which apply to every aspect of the early intervention process, such as evaluation, access to records, and Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) team participation.

Memorandum of Agreement for Early ACCESS, Iowa's Part C of IDEA – This interagency agreement, signed by the Iowa Department of Education, Health and Human Services and the University of Iowa's Child Health Specialty Clinics, outlines the agencies' roles and responsibilities in the Early ACCESS system. The agreement includes their commitment to: (1) provide early intervention services and (2) support components needed for a coordinated system. This agreement fulfills a requirement of the IDEA, Part C - 303.120(f).

Back to top

Iowa Council for Early ACCESS

Iowa Council for Early ACCESS (ICEA) advises and assists the Iowa Department of Education in the planning, coordination, and delivery of services to infants and toddlers with special needs and their families.

Back to top