Before the mid-1970s, many children with physical or mental disabilities did not receive public educations. In 1974, the Iowa legislature removed those barriers, and the U.S. Congress soon pursued a similar goal with the enactment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law requires schools to provide equal opportunities in education for all children, regardless of their diverse learning needs. Iowa developed area education agencies (AEAs) to provide support services required by IDEA.
Heartland AEA has two major responsibilities in special education: identification of children with disabilities (Child Find) and providing support and related services to those identified children. Services are provided for children birth through the age of 21 and can be accessed through requests made by parents or school personnel.
Heartland AEA also serves as an educational leader in planning and supporting free and equitable access to quality educational programs and supporting school district staff, parents and AEA staff in meeting special education requirements and compliance.