California Special Education Law

Advocacy Resources, Hearing & Appeal Decisions, Statistics and More for Parents

Your Special Needs Child's Legal Rights

Early Intervention Services for Children Younger than 3 Years


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) establishes important rights and provides support services for children with disabilities including children from ages zero through two years as well.


The purpose of a law that provides early intervention services is to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities and to minimize the potential for delay. It is also designed to reduce educational costs by minimizing the need for special education and related services after infants and toddlers reach school age.


An infant or toddler with a disability means an individual younger than three years old who needs early intervention services because they are experiencing developmental delays in one or more of the following areas: cognitive development, physical or motor development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development. If a child is experiencing such a delay, a referral may be made orally or in writing by a parent to either the regional center or school district in which the child lives.