Skip to main content


In Minnesota, special education services for children with disabilities are mandated by law beginning at birth. By federal and state law, families must be involved in the planning, development, and implementation of comprehensive services for their young children with disabilities.

In order to ensure involvement in the process, families need to become knowledgeable about early intervention service systems and their rights under the law, and to acquire better communication skills for team planning and advocating for their child. The earlier these skills are learned, the easier it will be for parents to become effective advocates for their children.

The Journey Begins: Learning How to Advocate for Your Child

In this video a parent discusses how she learned the importance of being an advocate for her child with a disability.

Video: Learning how to Advocate for your child

Early Development

The years during early childhood are very important for a person’s development. Skills learned in these years will provide a framework for healthy emotional, cognitive, and physical abilities as your child matures.

Personal Stories and Advice to Parents

Raising a child with disability can be challenging as well as rewarding. Here are some stories and tips from families, PACER staff, and parent advocates that may provide insights and ideas for helping your child reach their potential and dreams.

Early Intervention

Early intervention is a system of coordinated services that promotes the child’s growth and development and supports families during the critical early years. Early intervention services for eligible children ages birth to 3 and their families are federally mandated through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Child Care

Family child care providers may not discriminate against children with disabilities. The portion of a home that is used for child care would be covered under the ADA. However, many family day care providers have expressed concern that they will be required to make major architectural alterations to their home — such as building ramps or altering bathrooms.

Early Literacy

Early literacy is much more than recognizing letters and the sounds they make. Early literacy provides a critical foundation for listening, speaking, writing, reading, and interpersonal communication that your child will rely on and grow from throughout his or her life. Learn how you can aid your child in developing these necessary skills.

Transition to Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a big step for any child. As parents of a young child with disabilities, find out how to plan for this transition and learn strategies to help your child be successful.

Early Childhood Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (AT), whether something as simple as a pencil grip or as complicated as a communication device, has the power to change lives and opens doors of opportunity for people with disabilities. Assistive technology can support young children in building skills, increasing participation in activities, promoting development, enhancing learning, and boosting self-esteem.

Professional Training Material

PACER has developed strategies for local early intervention outreach and has published these handouts for professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about your young child’s early learning? Judy Swett, PACER’s early childhood staff advocate, provides helpful answers on a variety of topics.

Organizations that Can Help

Links to organizations with helpful information and resources for early childhood and additional supports.

Additional Information

If you would like more help or information, PACER provides:

  • Individual assistance by phone and in person from parent advocates. Call 952.838.9000
  • Workshops for parents and young children addressing rights and responsibilities, early intervention service systems, and team planning and advocacy skills.