Early Transitions for Children and Families: Transitions from Infant/Toddler Services to Preschool Education
Transitions for young children can occur at a number of points: as the child moves from the hospital to the family's home, from care in the home to infant/toddler early intervention services, from infant/toddler services to preschool education, and from preschool to kindergarten and elementary school. For purposes of this discussion, transitions are identified as "points of change in services and personnel who coordinate and provide services" (Rice & O'Brien, 1990, p. 2).
While all children experience transitions in their early years, children with developmental challenges and their families may experience more frequent and more intense transitions in necessary services. These transitions may be stressful for families. Family concerns during this process are heightened by changes in friendship ties and service delivery systems as the child moves from more home-based and family-focused services to more center-based and child-focused services (Hains, Rosenkoetter, & Fowler, 1991).
This digest focuses on a crucial early transition for children with disabilities: the transition from infant/toddler services (during which the child and family may or may not have participated in early intervention services) to preschool education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides regulation and funding to states for infant/toddler services to children with disabilities from birth through age 2 under Part C and from age 3 through 21 under Part B, so this transition may represent a different funding and regulation authority as well as a move to a different agency or service delivery location.
The ideal transition process is one which is a "carefully planned, outcome-oriented process, initiated by the primary service provider, who establishes and implements a written, multi-agency service plan for each child moving to a new program (McNulty 1989, p.159). Unfortunately, the transition experiences of many families do not meet this ideal.
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
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