An estimated 15 to 17 percent of Minnesota children under age 6 have developmental disabilities. In 2017, 7 percent of all children under age 5 were served by early intervention and early childhood special education services, up from 4 percent in 2014. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that early intervention, special education, and related services are provided to children with disabilities. Lack of early screening and detection and eligibility requirements to receive the services may limit participation.
Early intervention services and supports are available in "natural environments" for families and their children age 2 and younger with developmental delays or with certain diagnosed physical or mental disabilities, conditions, or disorders. These include children with low birth weight and children with hearing or vision impairment. Children with developmental delays or other disabilities who are experiencing challenges in their learning and development from age 3 until they begin kindergarten can receive special education services in their home, child care setting, or school, whichever is the least restrictive environment. The data presented here are limited to pre-kindergarten children and reflect county location of the programs' district office rather than child's residence.