Your Responsibilities for Helping Children with Special Needs

As a child care provider, you should be aware of the following laws governing your working with and admitting children with special needs:

Early Intervention

Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires you to refer the parents of any child, age birth to 3 years, whom you believe may have a developmental delay or disability to early intervention services. All referrals must be made within two working days after a child has been identified.

For more information or to refer a child to the early intervention services system, please call 1-800-323-4769 (voice/TTY).

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans With Disabilities Act is a federal civil rights law protecting persons with disabilities. The ADA applies to individuals who have or are thought to have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of their major life activities (walking, hearing, seeing, learning, speaking, etc.). All child care programs, regardless of size and whether publicly funded or not, are required by the ADA to maintain admission policies that do not single out children with disabilities and treat them differently, and to make any reasonable accommodations necessary so that children with disabilities can be included in their child care programs.

"Reasonable" accommodations may include:

  • modifying basic policies, practices and procedures;
  • providing auxiliary aids and services (equipment and services which are necessary to ensure effective communication) to individuals with speech, hearing and visual impairments; and/or
  • removing physical barriers.

For more information about ADA and other laws pertaining to children with special needs, please write to:

Child Care Law Center
22 Second St., 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

Illinois Attorney General's Office
100 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 814-3000

Department of Human Services Early Intervention web site:  EI Providers - EI Customers - About EI

To order Public Awareness materials call 1-800-851-6197.