teacher and student
Our Work

Special Education & Early Intervention

First-ever equity-focused report examines state-by-state data on federally funded early intervention and special education programs from 2005-2021.

The report finds areas were EI and ECSE are unequal, and sometimes clearly inequitable too. Most striking, we find that children living in states with lower median state median incomes are less likely to receive both EI and ECSE. Asian, Black, and Hispanic children are less likely than White children to receive EI and ECSE. The differences are especially large for Black children and flip at school-age. Boys are twice as likely as girls to receive EI and ECSE. And, like other early childhood education programs, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many fewer children receiving EI and ECSE.The report explores these themes further, highlighting both within and between state variations in who has access to EI and ECSE and where children receive services. We also lay out recommendations for increased funding, better data, and a national commission to explore the issues highlighted in the report.

The State(s) of Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education: Looking at Equity

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) affords eligible children the civil right of access to special education.1 Access to Early Intervention (EI) and Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is essential to support children with disabilities at an early age, setting an early, strong developmental foundation, and putting them on a path towards success. As this report finds, not all young children are equally likely to have access to these important services.

child playing with blocks