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.


A Guide to the Child Find Process

The below video and booklet will help parents and community partners determine if a child needs special education services and supports. They go on to describe the Child Find process, the process by which it is determined if a child is eligible for services.

Special Education: ChildFind Process Booklet


Birth to Age 3

If your child has a condition that may cause later delays in development or if he/she is showing delays in his/her ability to play, think, talk or move, your child may be eligible for Early ACCESS services. These services are not associated with special education. See our Early ACCESS webpage for more information.

You can make a referral in one of two ways:

Directly to Heartland AEA

OR

Through Iowa Family Support Network

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:

Pam Nielsen
(515) 242-8213


Age 3 to Age 5

If you feel your child may have an intellectual, physical, communication, behavioral or emotional disability and needs assistance, click the button below or call the Heartland AEA regional office that serves the school district in which your child resides to make a referral.

Early Childhood Referral Form

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:

Ann Stewart
(515) 242-8213


Age 5 to Age 21

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.