The federal role in early intervention: Prospects for the future
Since 1968, the federal government has played an essential role in establishing and implementing early intervention and preschool services for young children with disabilities and their families. This has been accomplished through a series of laws, regulations, supports, and incentives that collectively have shaped the nature and extent of current practice. I predict that as we enter the new millennium, we will not see new major legislation comparable in impact to IDEA and ADA. There will be a continued shift from federal to state control over decision making about practice. However, pressing national issues will require ongoing federal leadership. This leadership will continue in the form of increased levels of directed research and cooperative agreements based on federal perceptions of national need. Large-scale studies using nationally representative samples of children will provide important information about services and outcomes but will limit field-initiated efforts. A successful federal role will require a continued balance of federal leadership and grass roots initiatives. Hopefully we will see increased collaboration across federal agencies to address issues of mutual national importance.