In 1975, the Education of the Handicapped Act (PL 94-142) was established; this act gave the right for “all children to a free and appropriate education, regardless of handicapping conditions” (BOOK). However, before this act, children with disabilities did not attend school consequently, in 1986 congress amended PL 94-142 and extended this law to what is known as the Handicapped Infants and Toddlers Act of 1986 (PL 99-457). Before the implementation of PL 99-457 early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities were not part of the legislation.
The Handicapped Infants and Toddlers Act provides states the opportunity to grant early intervention to a group of infants not previously identified by the service system, thereby preventing delay. PL 99-457 has two parts: Part B and Part H. Part B extended the rights of PL 94-142 to children ages 3 to 5 years of age. Part H included an early intervention services to children from birth to 2 years of age. PL 99-457 main purposes included “(1) enhance the development of handicapped infants and toddlers, (2) minimize the need for special education costs after handicapped infants and toddlers reach school age, (3) increase the capabilities of handicapped individuals so they can live more independently, and (4) enhance the capacity of families to meet the special needs of their infants and toddlers with handicaps” (GLORIA).
Demographically, PL 99-457 focused on children who suffered from developmental delays and that were diagnosed with physical and mental conditions or those who had conditions that typically might result in delay. According to Samuel J. Meisels, “several researchers have suggested that early intervention is justified in part by the potential of the child’s family for major impact on the child’s development” (MEISELS). Part H is the core concept of PL 99-457 therefore the need for Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is essential; IFSP reflects the quality of services for children from birth to 3 years of age. IFSP is targeted towards the family meaning, family members are the constant influence in the care of the child therefore they know what is best for the child. IFSP is one of the methods that occupational therapist use called family-centered care. According to the Introduction to Occupational Therapy, “Family-centered care involves working with family members on goals that are considered important to them […] This philosophy of care supports parents as being the ‘expert’ on their child and urges practitioners to listen and respond to family request” (93).
Families not only know what is best for their disabled child but also know that it can become a financial...