If you disagree with the Illinois Early Intervention Services System on the 1) identification, 2) evaluation, 3) placement of your child, or 4) provision of appropriate early intervention services to your child or family, you have the right to a timely administrative resolution of your concerns.

There are 3 options for raising your issue. You may 1) request mediation; 2) request an impartial administrative proceeding; or 3) submit a complaint to the lead agency. During the resolution of an impartial proceeding or mediation your child will continue receiving appropriate early intervention services currently being provided or if you are applying for initial services, the child will receive the services which are not in dispute, unless there is agreement otherwise.

Mediation - Mediation is an alternative to the more formal and adversarial administrative proceeding. Mediation must be voluntary and freely agreed to by the parties who are in dispute (the family, the local provider, the CFC and/or the lead agency). Parents and the parties with whom they are disputing are not required to use mediation. Mediation may not be used to deny or delay your right to a hearing or other rights under Part C or IDEA.

Mediation must be conducted by a qualified impartial mediator trained in effective mediation techniques. The mediator may only help the parties communicate and come to agreement but may not force or order a resolution of the dispute. The State must bear the cost of the mediation process. Each session in the mediation shall be scheduled in a timely manner and held in a location convenient to the parties. Any agreement reached must be set forth in a written mediation agreement.

Discussions that occur during mediation shall be confidential and may not be used in subsequent administrative or court hearings.

Impartial Hearings - impartial administrative proceeding is similar to a court hearing. An impartial hearing officer having knowledge about Early Intervention Program or IDEA, and the needs of and services available for eligible children and families, will act as a judge. Parties to the dispute have the following rights:

To be accompanied and advised by counsel and by individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to the problems of children with disabilities.

To present evidence and confront, cross examine, and compel the attendance of witnesses;

To prohibit the introduction of any evidence at the hearing that has not been disclosed to you at least five days before the proceeding;

To obtain written or, at the option of the parents, electronic verbatim (word by word) record of the hearing; and

To obtain written or, at the option of the parents, electronic finding of facts and decisions (which shall be transmitted to the Illinois Interagency Council on Early Intervention and be made available to the public without personally identifying information).

The parents have the right to have the child who is the subject of the hearing present, to have the hearing open to the public, and to have the record of hearing, findings and decisions at no cost.

The hearing must be held at a time and place that is reasonably convenient to the parents and child involved.

No later than 45 days after receipt of your request for an impartial administrative proceeding, the proceeding must be completed and a written decision of the hearing officer will be mailed to the parties. A hearing officer may grant an extension of the 45 day time period at the request of either party. This decision is binding on the parties unless it is changed upon appeal of the State or Federal Court. The right to appeal and the process for appeal is set forth in section 680(1) of IDEA (20 USC ¤ 1480 (1)). Any party aggrieved by the hearing officer's decision may so appeal the decision.

Impartial means that the person:

a. is not an employee of any agency or other entity involved in the provision of early intervention services or care of the child; and

b. does not have a personal or professional interest that would conflict with his or her objectivity in implementing the process.

A person who otherwise qualifies under this section is not an employee of an agency solely because the person is paid by the agency to implement disagreement resolution.

State Complaint - Individuals or organizations may also file written, signed complaints with the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) stating that the State has violated a law or rule regarding the Part C Early Intervention program. The statement must contain the facts that support the compliant.

DHS has 60 days from receipt of the complaint to investigate and issue a written decision to the Complainant and interested parties, addressing each allegation in the compliant. During this time, DHS may carry out an independent onsite investigation and must give the Complainant an opportunity to submit additional information, either orally or in writing, about the allegations made in their complaint.

After reviewing all relevant information DHS must issue a written decision addressing each allegation in the complaint and contain findings of facts as well as conclusions, the reason for the final decision, if the complaint was found to be valid, and procedures to correct the cause(s) of the complaint. If a complaint raises issues previously decided under an impartial hearing request, the hearing decision is binding. If a complaint is the subject of a hearing request that is not yet finished, the matter will be set aside until the hearing is resolved. A complaint alleging a public agency's or private service provide's failure to implement an impartial hearing decision must be resolved by the lead agency.

The alleged violation must have occurred not more than one year before the date the complaint is received by DHS unless a longer period is reasonable because: 1) the alleged violation continues for that child or other children; 2) the complainant is requesting reimbursement or corrective action for a violation that occurred not more than three years before the compliant is received.

Complaints, Impartial Hearing and Mediation requested must be submitted to DHS in writing. Complaints must be sent to:

Chief

Bureau of Early Intervention
Department of Human Services
623 East Adams, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 19429
Springfield, IL 62794-9429
217/782-1981, TTY 217/558-6482

Impartial Hearing and Mediation request must be sent to:

Chief
Bureau of Administrative Hearings
Department of Human Services
100 South Grand Avenue, 3rd Floor
Harris Building
Springfield, IL 62762
217/785-9774, TTY 217/557-2547