Many years before the 1975 passage of P.L. 94-142, Minnesota legislation began guiding school districts in the development and provision of programs and services for young children with disabilities. An innovator, Minneapolis Public Schools opened its first preschool program focusing on children with hearing impairments. Ten years later, a pre-kindergarten speech and language program began, co-taught by speech/language clinicians and special education teachers. These programs were the forerunners of the program now known as Early Childhood Special Education.
In October, 1986, the law P.L. 99-457 leveled a mandate to states to provide services to children with disabilities from ages three to five and provided incentive monies to support services to infants and toddlers and their families. Federal funds are funneled through the Minnesota Department of Education based on the school district federal child count of the previous year. The development of Individual Family Service Plans (IFSP) for each child enrolled in Early Childhood Special Education programs was also provided for in the law.
Services for children with disabilities were mandated for children birth through age 21 years in May 1987 in Minnesota. The law was implemented in the 1988-89 school year.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 97) Amendments of 1997 were signed into law on June 4, 1997. This Act strengthens academic expectations and accountability for children with disabilities and bridges the gap that has too often existed between what children with disabilities learn and what is required in the regular curriculum. Sections 301 and 303 of the Act address infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Within these sections, funding to maintain and implement a state wide interagency system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families is described. as is the enhancement of the State's capacity to identify, evaluate, provide, expand and improve quality early intervention services. (U.S. Department of Education)
With these pieces of Federal and State legislation in place, Minneapolis Public School's Early Childhood Special Education program has evolved to include the following array of services for families of children with disabilities and their children, ages birth to five years: