Education – Overview

Of the major systems, education is the only guaranteed entitlement for your child. Depending on your family income, child’s eligibility or the availability of services, publicly funded services and health care may or may not be provided.

The journey through the education universe is long and complex, but it’s one that’s well paved. Thanks to the families before you and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, public schools must provide your child a free appropriate public education, known as FAPE, from age 3 to 21.

Even with state and federal laws to ensure your child’s right to an education, it takes a lot of hard work to see that your child gets the services and education he or she needs. Throughout these school years, keep thinking ahead to the next phase of your child’s life. Each transition leads you and your child into new and uncertain territory.

Learn More

Your Child’s IEP and You (Tips for Parents) (PDF)

High School Transition Toolkit (Available in Print or PDF)

  • A Star Form to help identify supports to reach a student’s transition goals.
  • Tips for transition planning and goal setting.
  • Transition timeline of things to do from age 14-21.
  • Transition checklist of skills, activities, and services when creating your child’s high school transition plan for his/her IEP.
  • Ways to gain job skills during high school.
  • Resources for post-secondary education.

Four Part Video Series on Special Education (produced by The Arc of Washington State): Overview; Referral, Evaluation & IEP; Key Elements of the IEP; Resolving Conflicts.



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  • Informing Families is a partnership for better communication, provided by the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council in collaboration with the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Administration and other partners throughout the state.