Frequently Asked Questions 

Learn the answers to frequently asked questions about related services, which are additional supports that students with disabilities receive in the classroom through their IEP. Some examples are speech therapy, audiology and physical therapy.


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Is my child eligible to receive related services?

Students with disabilities may receive related services as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP), depending on their specific needs.

The decision to add any particular service to a student’s special education program is made by the IEP team, which includes a parent, a service provider with expertise in that particular area, teachers and other individuals who know the child.

For assistance determining if your child needs special education services and an explanation of the special education process, visit Determining if Your Child Needs Special Education.

How will I know what skills my child is working on with his or her service providers?

Related service providers are IEP team members just like parents or guardians, so you will see them at annual IEP meetings. They also will provide regular written progress reports to the student’s parent or guardian regarding the goals they work on with the student at the end of each marking period.

Service providers keep detailed notes regarding student progress after each service delivery session, and will be happy to discuss this progress or explain the purpose of their goals and specific intervention techniques.

To find contact information for any related service provider working with your child, contact your school’s Special Education Coordinator.

I know that services like occupational therapy or counseling are delivered to children in a variety of settings such as a hospital, clinic, home or school. Regardless of setting, therapy is therapy, right?

Actually, no. Related service providers are appropriately trained and licensed no matter where they work, but the missions of the agency, school or clinic where the therapists work are often different. With that in mind, the type and goals of therapy may be very different from one setting to another. 

Therapeutic services provided in the educational setting according to an IEP must be directed toward the achievement of functional tasks required for children to participate and benefit from their education. Therapy provided in a medical setting, such as at a hospital or clinic, tends to focus on specific goals that may not relate directly to educational performance.

It may be helpful or necessary for children to receive services both at school and in a medical setting, as their IEP services are delivered in school, and they are supported by community-based or medical providers elsewhere to meet their needs that extend beyond the educational setting. 

Keep in mind that your child’s IEP is a fluid document - it can and should change to respond to your child's evolving needs to ensure that those needs are met in the least restrictive environment possible. The goals for any related service on the IEP always should be school-based and educationally focused.

Can physicians and/or outside service providers who are working with a child make specific recommendations for therapy services in the school environment?

Yes, you may submit such recommendations from an outside service provider who has evaluated or works with your child to his or her Special Education Coordinator. The IEP team must then consider the information you provide. 

If you would like, you may request that an IEP meeting be held to discuss this information and to consider revising the IEP. DCPS is not required, however, to implement the recommendations from any outside report, since changes to the IEP always should be a team decision that takes into account all available information regarding the student, not just the findings of one specific data source.

Where can I learn more about related services?

To learn more about related services at DCPS, check out our website's related services section, or talk to the Special Education Coordinator at your child’s school. 

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education also has information about related services, and special education policies and regulations.

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities also offers many useful resources about related services and special education in general.

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