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Getting Started with Special Education

Heartland AEA serves students from birth to the age of 21. The eligibility requirements for children to receive services differ depending on the age of the child. In all cases, however, services are free and are based on eligibility and need. If you believe that a child or student may be in need of AEA services, who you contact at Heartland AEA depends on the child/student's age.

Children Birth-3 years
If your child is between the ages of birth to 3 years, and you have concerns about his/her development, you may contact Heartland AEA for more information about Early ACCESS services. These services are not associated with special education. See our Early ACCESS webpage for more information.

Children 3-5 years
Contact the Heartland AEA regional office that serves the school district you live in. The local AEA team will then be in contact with you to discuss your concerns. Please note that if your child resides in the Des Moines Public School district, he/she would receive services from the district rather than from Heartland AEA. If your child resides in the Des Moines district, contact Angie Cumings at (515) 242-8213.

Students 5-21 years
The Child Find process is different for students who are of school age. A parent may request an evaluation by contacting an administrator at the student's school.

For more information:

  • View a video created to help parents and educators understand the process of determining students' eligibility for special education.
  • Find basic information about foundational topics in special education on our Special Education Terms page.
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