When the government provides certain benefits, it should make those benefits equally accessible to people of all backgrounds and personal situations. There have been numerous federal laws and court rulings affirming the rights of individuals in various scenarios. People with disabling medical conditions are among those protected from institutional discrimination under federal law.
Adults and children with special needs often have access to different government benefits and support programs. One of the most important rights of children and young adults in the United States is the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This standard also specifically applies to qualified individuals with disabilities.
What laws support FAPE?
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the first law that established the rights of those with special needs to secure support from public schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) also protects the rights of those with disabling medical conditions to receive appropriate and free services from the local public school system.
What are the goals of FAPE?
Ideally, school districts committing to FAPE will help ensure that all residents of the United States, regardless of their medical condition or disability, receive the same educational support and access.
Access to public schools helps socialize children with disabling medical conditions and can lead to them pursuing a career in the future. Public school access can also provide respite support for parents who need to work to support their families. Overall, the goal of FAPE is to create a fair environment for those with disabling medical conditions and their families.
How does FAPE work?
School districts have to provide professional evaluation to determine the needs of students with extra support requirements. They must then create an individualized educational plan (IEP) to help meet those needs.
The school should provide the same quality of educational services to children with disabling medical conditions as to the other children enrolled at the school district. With proper support, even those with serious medical concerns and learning limitations can attend public school.
Unfortunately, parents often have a hard time getting the proper degree of inclusion at public schools when a child has serious medical concerns. Learning more about your options for helping your child with special needs will benefit them and your entire family.