A parent has the right to request a due process hearing whenever there is a dispute between the parent and the Birth to 3 Program over the Birth to 3 Program's proposal or refusal to initiate or change the eligibility, evaluation, proposed Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or portion thereof, or the implementation of the IFSP. An alternative dispute resolution option is mediation.
A due process hearing is a formal process for settling disputes. This procedure is a hearing before an impartial decision-maker to resolve a dispute between you and the county agency or service provider.
A due process hearing is requested by sending a letter or a completed Request for Hearing form (English [Word] and Spanish [Word]) to the Department of Health Services (DHS). The request must include the name and address of the child, the name of the Birth to 3 Program the child is participating in, a description of the nature of the problem related to the due process hearing request, including the facts relating to such problem, and a proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the parents at the time. A copy of the request for a due process hearing must be forwarded to the Birth to 3 Program serving the child at the same time the request is sent to DHS.
When a due process hearing is requested, the DHS, by contract with the Division of Hearings and Appeals, appoints an impartial hearing officer to conduct the due process hearing and sends the parent a notice of the procedural safeguards and a list of free or low-cost legal and other relevant services available in their area.
Both parties (you and the county) in the dispute, and any witnesses, will present evidence. You are entitled to have an attorney and advisors present. The due process hearing is provided at no cost to you, except for any professionals that you hire to represent you. The cost of the due process hearing is paid for by the county Birth to 3 Program.
The hearing officer must issue a written decision based solely upon the evidence presented at the due process hearing within 30 days of the completion of the hearing. If you are not happy with the decision from the hearing, you may bring a civil action in state court or in a district court of the United States.
The Department, after deleting any personally identifiable information, shares general information of the hearing decision to the governor appointed Interagency Coordinating Council (the Birth to 3 Program's advisory board), incorporates this information into the Annual Performance Report (APR) and shares it at the next Birth to 3 regional meetings.
For more information about due process hearings, please contact your service coordinator in the county Birth to 3 Program. You may also contact Tara Sommersberger from the state Birth to 3 Program.