Does My Child need an IEP?

If your child is struggling in school, developing negative behaviors towards school, or a teacher has expressed concern for your child’s learning, it might be time to see if an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is right for your child. 

What is an IEP?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a funding statute that requires all states to follow specific conditions for special education funding. Under this law, every child who is receiving special education services, must have an IEP. The IEP is a written document developed by a team made up of specialists, teachers, and caregivers.

 In order to receive an IEP, your child must:

  1. Be a child with a disability
  2. Require special education services and/or related services to benefit from the general education program

The IEP document specifies the child’s current educational performance, the special education services that the child will receive and the individualized goals put in place for the child. 

What signs might show that my child needs an IEP?

It has been an ongoing problem:

Oftentimes when an IEP team meets, it’s because the child’s challenges have been an underlying concern for some time. Maybe the child’s struggles are becoming more apparent as the workload increases, the social demands become greater, or the need for longer spans of  attention grows.

The general education teacher has tried other strategies:

Teachers often find that identifying a child with the IEP team can be helpful after other general education strategies haven’t worked. Oftentimes teachers will implement strategies themselves such as:

  • seating a child closer to the front of the room
  • providing additional small group instruction 
  • breaking projects into smaller steps for the child

If general education strategies such as these aren’t effective, the general education teacher might suggest meeting with the IEP team to discuss further steps. 

How do I know if my child is eligible for an IEP?

An IEP team follows federal guidelines to determine if your child is eligible for an IEP. 

These steps include: 

  1. The child must be identified by the IEP team. A caregiver, teacher, or specialist can ask for the IEP team to meet to identify the child. Any concerns about how the child is performing in the general education program will be discussed with the team. The team will then decide if/how the child should be evaluated.
  2. If the team decides that the child should be evaluated, then the child will be evaluated to determine if he/she qualifies for Special Education services. Under IDEA, there are 13 categories of disabilities. A child must be eligible under at least one category to qualify for services. 
  3. After the child has been evaluated, the IEP team will meet to discuss if the child was determined eligible for special education services, and at that point recommendations for a plan will be discussed. 

When working through the IEP process, it’s important to work closely with your school’s staff members. The IEP is a flexible document and is reviewed at least once a year, so communicating regularly with teachers and specialists can be helpful in ensuring that your child’s learning needs are on the right path. 

For more specific information or assistance with evaluations and diagnosis, please contact the Children’s Wellness and Developmental Center

Office Hours

Monday 11am - 4pm
Tuesday 9am - 4pm
Wednesday 11am - 7pm
Thursday 10am - 5pm
Friday 10am - 2pm

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Children’s Wellness & Developmental Center
2006 State Highway 71 Suite 4
Spring Lake Hts, NJ 07762 Monmouth County
T: 732.919.1335
F: 732-782-0353

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