In This Section

What Happens to My Child's Services During Dispute Resolution


When a parent disagrees with their Early Intervention (IE) agency, school, or school district, it can be a very stressful time for the family. Families may be hesitant to challenge their EI agency or school because of fear that their child will not be able to receive any services.

Federal law, through a provision called "pendency," provides that a child can continue to receive services that have been agreed upon already while the parents and the education agency resolve a dispute.

Many disagreements over Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and Individualized Education Program (IEP) services arise because parents think that their child is not receiving enough services. Pendency ensures that a child will receive some level of service while the parents and the education agency work out their disagreement. Pendency is automatic once a mediation or due process hearing is requested, although parents may wish to specifically write and request pendency.

Pendency also relates to your child's educational placement. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that a preschool or school-age child should remain in his or her current educational placement until all due process proceedings have been completed. For this reason, pendency is sometimes called "Stay Put."

Sometimes when a child transitions to a new service delivery system or school, there can be disagreements about the services and placement the child will receive in the new setting. If a family files a Due Process Complaint or request for mediation during transition from the Early Intervention (EI) system to Preschool Special Education services, the child is entitled to continue the services in the EI Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) until the dispute is resolved.

Similarly, when a child is transitioning from preschool to school-aged programming, the child will be able to receive the same type of services and program that he or she received in preschool. However, the child will be placed in a school-age program that is similar to the preschool program where the child received services. If the preschool the child attended has a state-approved school-age program, the child may receive services there.

Pendency is triggered when a parent formally requests mediation or a Due Process Hearing in writing. The parent must meet all filing deadlines for pendency to apply. A child will stay in the pendent placement throughout mediation, hearings, and any appeals, or until an agreement is made outside the dispute resolution process.

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.