Of great importance to many children is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—known as IDEA. Begun in 1975, this federal legislation's purpose is to provide a free appropriate public education for children with disabilities birth through 21.
- Part C of IDEA, known as Early Intervention, is for infants and young children with disabilities or at risk for disability, to age three. A team, including parents or guardians and other specialists, develops an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
- Part B of IDEA, for children age 3—21, a plan known as an IEP—Individualized Education Program—is developed for eligible children.
- Some children may also benefit from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Acts of 1973, administered by the US Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which uses a slightly broader definition of disability.