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Funding for Therapy: The Facts

Through the years, legislation has been passed at the national, state and county level that enables support for kids with disabilities and their parents. While there are some resources for parents from federal and state programs – including parental learning opportunities, parent-to-parent support, and advocacy – there are few funds available for actual delivery of therapy when children fall in the middle of diagnostic parameters (somewhere between moderate and severe) and when their sensory processing issues are difficult to accurately identify.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

In 1975, Congress passed Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act), now called IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. In 2013, budget cuts due to the federal sequester decimated the IDEA program. California lost $62,855,318 and 759 jobs dedicated to advancing these programs – and the kids in need of evaluation and treatment options are the ones who have unfortunately suffered.

IDEA requires that parents participate in the team that discusses the child’s learning needs and determines if the school should conduct a comprehensive evaluation if it is suspected that the child has a learning disability. However, not every child with a disability may qualify for special education services. In order to be eligible for these services, the student must both have a disability and need special education in order to make progress in school to receive benefits from the general educational program.

Section 504

Section 504 is a broad civil rights law which protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in any agency, school or institution receiving federal funds to provide persons with disabilities, to the greatest extent possible, an opportunity to fully participate with their peers. Middle and high school students make up a larger percentage of those served by Section 504 than elementary students. ADHD was the most common basis for a Section 504 plan. Approximately 1.2% of the K-12 school population is eligible for Section 504 programs – again leaving many affected children and families without appropriate coverage options for the therapy they need at the right juncture in their development.