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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

New Web Site Launched To
Help Parents Access Resources

The U.S. Department of Education today announced a new Web site to showcase the government's efforts to help America's infants and preschoolers with disabilities and their families.

The site, located at www.fed-icc.org, will provide a convenient storehouse of information for parents of children with disabilities, focusing on the efforts of the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council (FICC). The FICC facilitates federal, state and local activities related to serving infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, ages birth through 5, who receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as well as other federally funded programs such as health care, child care and social services. The FICC is an advising body to cabinet secretaries from the departments of education, health and human services, agriculture, defense, and interior, as well as to the commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

"We are excited to share how federal agencies are working collaboratively to improve services for children with disabilities and their families," said Judith E. Heumann, FICC chair and assistant secretary for the office of special education and rehabilitative services. "This site offers parents, in particular, easy access to disability-related information and contacts that can make a difference in the lives of their children."

Some highlights:

  • For parents, the Web site is user-friendly, easily navigable offering access to names and numbers of people throughout the government who can help answer questions about children and disability issues. The site also provides a means for parents to contact and communicate with FICC parent member representatives.
  • For states, the Web site showcases current federal efforts that impact state programs. States also will be able to use this site as a forum through which to share issues of importance with council representatives.
  • For government agencies, the Web project promotes better understanding of how each federal program helps young children and how government offices can work together collaboratively.

The FICC makes recommendations to the secretaries on interagency collaboration, including suggestions to eliminate barriers to interagency programs. In addition, in order to help support state interagency coordination efforts, the FICC advises on the coordination of technical assistance and dissemination of information about promising practices and effective program coordination strategies.

The FICC meets quarterly in Washington, D.C., and its meetings are open and accessible to the public. The group's membership includes representatives from:

  • 17 program offices across six federal agencies;
  • State program representatives;
  • Parents of children with disabilities; and
  • Others, as deemed necessary by the secretary of education.

Working with Assistant Secretary Judith E. Heumann, parent representative Felecia Jordan da-Silva currently serves as FICC co-chair.

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.