Early Childhood Education

Illinois School Districts’ Responsibilities Toward EI Services

As the result of Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) must participate in the child find process as primary referral sources. In addition, they must participate in the Local Interagency Councils’ (LICs) responsibility for the coordination and design of Part C child find and public awareness activities. LEAs must also participate in the transition process of eligible infants and toddlers to preschool programs as they approach the age of three. A school district is not required to provide early intervention services, unless participating in a Part C grant. It is, however in a school district’s best interest to become involved with the early intervention system within its geographic region as soon as possible, especially since they may become responsible for these children in their district once they become 3 years of age.

Child Find Activities

34 CFR 300.200 requires that each Local Educational Agency applying for federal funds under P.L. 105-17 include “procedures which ensure that all children residing within the jurisdiction of the local educational agency who are disabled, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who are in need of special education and related services are identified, located, and evaluated…”. This includes 0-3 year olds as well as Part B children. Therefore, a school district’s procedures must address the 0-3 age group as well as older children.

LIC-LEA Relationship

LEAs serve as members of the LICs. As such, an LEA participates in the LIC’s responsibility for the coordination and design of Part C child find and public awareness activities.

In addition, Local Educational Agencies must participate in child find for 0-3 year olds as primary referral sources, 34 CFR Part 303.321(d)(3)(v). They are substantially responsible for the child find activities for infants and toddlers with disabilities and are major stakeholders in referring them for appropriate services, since the LEA will ultimately be responsible for educating them. Once such children with disabilities are identified by the LEA, referral must be made within two days to the local Child and Family Connections office (CFC). While LEAs are not required to serve as evaluators, service providers or service coordinators, their staff may and should do so.

LEAs are also required to participate in the process of smooth and effective transitioning of eligible Part C children to preschool programs as they approach their third birthdays, 20 USC Section 1412(a)(9). This requires participation in a transition planning conference arranged by Part C providers six months prior to the child’s third birthday.


In summary, LEAs are responsible under federal regulation and law for the following Part C activities: 

  1. Conducting public awareness activities targeting families and other primary referral sources;
  2. Conducting screening (by developmental checklists) to actively seek out infants and toddlers with disabilities, and maintaining procedures to assure compliance with the two-day referral time frame;
  3. Working closely with CFCs to assure evaluations of identified children; and
  4. Participating actively in their LIC.

Additionally the LEA is encouraged to have its staff therapists and specialists participate in early intervention evaluations, assessments, and coordination as appropriate or as requested by CFCs, unless otherwise participating in a Part C grant. In that case, the LEA must conform to the Part C requirements.

If you have questions concerning a school district’s responsibilities relating to Part C requirements and activities, contact Cindy Zumwalt, ISBE Division Administrator for Early Childhood Education at 217/524-4835 or Amy Tarr, Department of Human Services, Bureau of Early Intervention Services at 217/782-1981.