Family Team News

Register for March for Babies at

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turning 3 - the leap from early intervention to special ed

Is your little one currently in an early intervention program but going to “age out” because her third birthday is fast approaching? If so, here’s what you need to know to make the leap as smooth as possible.

It really all boils down to planning. ..or rather, planning ahead. If your toddler has been receiving early intervention (EI) services for a developmental delay or disability, when she turns 3 the service provider will change to your local school district. The part of IDEA (the law) that supports these services changes from Part C (early intervention for babies and toddlers) to Part B (special education for children ages 3 – 21). Part C is very family focused, while Part B is more school district focused. The result is that you may feel like you are not as much a part of the process, but you still are - most definitely!
How does the change take place?

While your child is still in Part C’s EI program, her service provider should refer her to the Part B system coordinator to start the process. Your school district will need to see if your child still qualifies to receive services. Determining eligibility may include observations, testing or evaluations, and meetings to discuss her current and future needs. If she meets criteria to continue receiving services, her IEP should be developed while she is still in her Part C program, so that when she turns 3, her IEP takes effect immediately.
To help ensure a smooth transition, the law requires that transition planning begin at least 90 days (and not more than 9 months) before your child reaches her third birthday. The transition plan must be outlined in your child’s IFSP (her early intervention plan). Ideally, the transition plan should begin much earlier than 90 days – perhaps 6 months before her birthday. For a sample of what transition goals would look like on your child’s IFSP, see Wrightslaw’s Model IFSP . You can read more about what is required by law in the transition process, in the Part C Final Regulations, starting on page A-8.

What will help your child handle the change?

Include your child in the process, to a degree. Visit the new site once or twice before the first day of school and have your child meet her new teacher. This visit can be tremendously helpful in lessening fears of the unknown.

NICHCY has a great page on smoothing the transition from EI to preschool. Be sure to check it out. In particular, they recommend the article Entering a New Preschool: How Service Providers and Families Can Ease the Transitions of Children Turning Three Who Have Special Needs. It includes tips for before, during and after the shift to the new placement and explains LREs. It even has a list of recommended books that you can read to your little one to help prepare her for the transition. It may be an “oldie” but it is a “goodie” when it comes to the timeless information it provides.
What should you look for in a new placement?

• The least restrictive environment (LRE), where to the extent possible, your child is educated with children who are not disabled; and
• A place where your child’s individual needs can be met.
Remember, an IEP means Individualized Education Plan/Program. Individualized is the key word here. It should be designed to meet your child’s unique needs. It should also be provided in the least restrictive environment. This LRE may be your child’s day care center or preschool, if possible. (Learn more about LREs here).

Where can you find support and resources?
Again, NICHCY has gathered support and resources for families, childcare providers, and educators here. NICHCY discusses services that are available for preschoolers who are experiencing developmental delays and disabilities.


Bottom line
Life is full of change and transitions. The leap from EI to special ed is definitely a big one, but with careful planning and preparation, it can be a smooth journey. By being an informed and educated parent, you will help to make the process easier for your little one, and yourself.

Have questions? Send them to
Tags: child, delays, disabilities, early intervention, IDEA, IEP, IFSP, least restrictive environment, LRE, Part B, Part C, Preschool, special ed, Special needs, transition, turning 3

Source: NewsMomsNeedat

No comments: