The history and development of education programs for children with disabilities in the United States closely parallels the struggle of other minority groups to establish their civil right to participate equally in public education, which provides the primary preparation for economic and social participation in society. As the U.S. Supreme Court stated in Brown v. Board of Education:
[Education] is a principal instrument awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. It is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life is he is denied the opportunity of an education.
Children with disabilities' right to equal educational opportunities was established when Congress enacted The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142, later renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - (IDEA) in 1975.
Special Education Resources at DREDF
The goal of DREDF's Children and Family Advocacy program is to preserve, strengthen and enforce the rights of children with disabilities. We use our long-established strategies of legal advocacy, public policy and legislative development, and training and education, toward that end.
Two of DREDF's projects provide training, information, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities and the professionals who work with them. Services offered through our Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) and Foster Youth Resources for Education (FYRE) and and Clearinghouse on Foster Youth and Transition enable parents and professionals to become more knowledgeable about educational services available for children with disabilities and their rights and protections under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and other relevant laws. Our free services are provided by phone and email, through our website and workshops by Education Advocates who help families secure appropriate services for their children and become effective partners and leaders in school reform. Although our direct services are available in Alameda, Contra Costa and Yolo Counties in California, most of the information on our website is relevant throughout the United States.
Families throughout the nation have access to similar services at a Parent Training and Resource Center in their location. A directory of Parent Centers is available at the Alliance for Parent Centers.
For more information and links to dozens of resources on special education and directions on how to contact our PTI and FYRE projects for help, please follow these links: