(2020, August) | Useful for state and local decision makers addressing systems that serve young children with disabilities

Coping with COVID-19 has been challenging for all families, especially those caring for young children with disabilities. Of the 24 million children under age 6 in the United States, about 5% (1.2 million) have a diagnosed disability that makes them eligible for services under IDEA. This fact sheet from Child Trends begins by examining the interrelationship between disability, race, and ethnicity. Across states, data show that the proportion of children participating in early intervention and early childhood special education varies, with children in certain racial and ethnic groups having differential access to IDEA services.

The article also examines the impact that COVID-19 has had on families with young children with disabilities, which include:

  • loss of in-person therapy services;
  • limited access to special education accommodations and adapted materials;
  • difficulty of taking on new roles for therapy and learning within families;
  • compounded social isolation for families of young children with disabilities; and
  • gaps in health insurance coverage for children with unemployed parents.

As states plan the reopening of ECE settings, they must also plan to equitably include young children with disabilities. The Child Trends article offers 7 examples of action steps that can support a strong return to services and ensure that young children with disabilities receive support for their development and learning.

Read the brief online at:

There’s also a 10-page PDF you can download at: