Transition: From Home or Early Intervention Services to Preschool Special Needs
Transition: The Next Step
Transition is movement or change without interruption. It should be a smooth flow from one place or condition to another. While the transition plan for a student receiving special education services is designed to prepare him or her for life after high school, transition can start when a child enters preschool. The first of six distinct stages of transition is home or early intervention services to preschool special needs.
Factors of Change
A preschool child is defined as one “…who is at least three years of age but has not reached the required age for kindergarten...” (five by September 1), according to Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §l5-761 (23).
Children who have not reached their third birthday may be admitted to preschool according to ARS §15-771(G) which states: “The governing board of a school district may admit otherwise eligible children who are within ninety days of their third birthday, if it is determined to be in the best interest of the individual child. Children who are admitted to programs for preschool children prior to their third birthday are entitled to the same provision of services as if they were three years of age.”
Eligibility for preschool special education services needs to be determined by the local school district as a child nears his/her third birthday. Eligible children make the transition upon reaching three or at other agreed upon entrance times according to the child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or the Individualized Education Program (IEP).
For a child who has been receiving services through the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP), transition to preschool services needs to be considered. The AzEIP service coordinator will make the arrangements for this conference. It should be held some time between the time the child is two years six months and two years nine months old.
Parents of a child who has not previously been identified as needing early intervention services will need to contact the principal of their neighborhood school or the special education director of the school district in which they live. The same is true for families who have recently moved to Arizona.
All school districts have preschool screening available upon request or during a Child Find event. Screening is a district’s effort to find all children with disabilities, ages three to non-kindergarten eligible five-year-olds. Children who are found to have developmental concerns or delays in development during the screening process may then be referred for additional assessment after the parent’s consent is given.
A child who enters the preschool setting as a student with a disability will need to qualify for special education services based on the results of tests and information gathered in seven areas: vision, hearing, cognitive development, physical development, communication development, adaptive development, and social and emotional development. A child must meet criteria for one of the following special education classifications, described in ARS §15-761: Preschool Moderate Delay, Preschool Severe Delay, Preschool Speech/Language Delay, Hearing Impaired, or Visually Impaired.
Should the results of the developmental information provided by parents and the comprehensive developmental assessment indicate the child is eligible for special education services, an IEP will then be written. The IEP will contain the details of the preschool services needed for the child and the types of services to be provided.
The change from family centered services to services which focus on the child may be the greatest adjustment for both the parent and child. The setting for service delivery moves from the home or a therapy-based center to a more formal school setting with an emphasis on educational needs.
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