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Special Education Guidance



special needs student doing an activity

students with special needs in classroom

For more information, please contact a member of your district navigator team or refer to our Specialized Service Team Directory.


Overview and Guidance from the Iowa Department of Education

Iowa Department of Education

The AEA is the system within Iowa who has been given the responsibility for identifying children with special needs. 

In addition to the Early ACCESS program for children birth to age 3, Keystone staff work in school buildings on a weekly basis providing support services for students who may need extra help or who have IEPs. For example, you may see:

• school psychologists
• school social workers
• speech-language pathologists
• special education consultants
• occupational therapists
• physical therapists
• audiologists
• itinerant teachers for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• itinerant teachers for vision
• early childhood special education teachers

Keystone staff members work with students and families on an as-needed basis and they often serve as a member of an IEP team, facilitating education for a child needing special education services.

Additionally, Keystone AEA offers resources related to autism, challenging behavior, mental health, brain injuries, assistive technology, English-Language Learners (ELL) and more. Transition support services are available for students, parents, and educators as they plan for students’ transitions for living, learning, and working. Planning includes movement from home to school, school to school, and to their post-school employment, education, and living settings. The Family and Educator Partnership (FEP) works to develop and sustain effective partnerships between families, educators, and community providers to promote success for all children and youth with disabilities.

Child Find

Special Education Child Find Process brochure cover


The Statewide Family & Educator Partnership developed a booklet to increase families' understanding of the Child Find Process in Iowa. The booklet may also be a useful tool for general education teachers and school counselors, as it gives an overview of the entire process. It is intended to be a resource only, and does not replace the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents.

Educators may request printed copies from Keystone Core Team Members or download a digital copy of the booklet from this link



Child Find, the process by which students with disabilities are located, evaluated, and identified as needing special education services, is the responsibility of Iowa’s Area Education Agencies and is implemented consistently across the state through common standards and procedures.

The information below provides additional information about the adopted procedures, eligibility standards, and common misunderstandings, misinformation, and miscommunications encountered by parents and educators.

Produced as a collaborative project among Iowa’s AEA Directors of Special Education, the ASK Resource Center, and Disability Rights Iowa, this series of four brief videos clarify some of the more frequently encountered misunderstandings  about the state’s child find, evaluation, and eligibility determination procedures.

Videos are available to address the following areas of primary concern:

  1. Suspicion of Disability Video Clarifies conditions under which a disability might be suspected and addresses common misunderstandings.  After viewing the video, please complete the survey below.  
  1. Predetermination of Disability  Considers decisions made about suspicion of disability or eligibility for special education services before considering available information, obtaining parental consent, or conducting complete evaluations. After viewing the video, please complete the survey below.
  1. Consent for Full and Individual Initial Evaluation  Addresses misunderstandings and miscommunication related to informed parental consent for evaluation. After viewing the video, please complete the survey below.
  1. Evaluation and Eligibility Determination  Clarifies some common misinformation and misunderstanding about how students are evaluated and determined eligible for special education and related services. After viewing the video, please complete the survey below.


Complete Presentation

A complete presentation combining all four content areas is also available in Prezi® format here, along with a complete script, and survey for the full training for use with group trainings or workshops. 


Glossary of Terms

A glossary of the special education terms used in these materials is available here.

Parents, Principals, Superintendents, General Education and Special Education Teachers, and AEA Staff will find these videos informative in helping all stakeholders develop a better understanding of the Child Find process.  

District Navigator Teams

Navigator logo


Learn more about the Keystone AEA Staff Members or District Navigator Teams that serve in your school.

Forms and Manuals

State forms are available from the following locations:


Learn more about the resources available to support paraeducators in your school district.