Preschool Special Education
Preschool services are a part of the total special education program offered through LEAs. The laws—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) amendments of 2004 and the Alabama Exceptional Child Act—require
special education and related services for children with disabilities, ages
3 to 21, who have special needs.
Alabama’s Preschool Special Education Services
- Meet the unique challenge of providing preschool special education and related services to young children with disabilities.
- Provide services in a way that recognizes the importance of working with the family in this unique stage of development for the child.
- Provide special education and related services to eligible children beginning on their third birthday.
- Consider the full range of possible service delivery options able to meet the child’s needs which might include the school, child care centers or homes, Head Start, or other programs offered through the community.
Alabama's Early Intervention System for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities
Alabama’s Early Intervention System (AEIS) provides coordinated services from many different state agencies and community-based service providers. These services are for infants and toddlers, from birth to 3 years, who are eligible because of special needs (developmental delays or diagnosed disabilities). The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, Division of Early Intervention, coordinates Alabama’s Early Intervention System.
- May facilitate the development of infants and toddlers with developmental delays and/or disabilities.
- May assist families in meeting the needs of their children.
- May reduce the need for special education and other services after these children reach school age.
- May improve the chances that these children will live and work independently in their community.
Early intervention services help meet the needs of the infant and toddler in all areas of development and also help families.
Early intervention is based on the following principles:
- Families and professionals work in partnership in the planning and delivery of services.
- Early intervention services are coordinated across agencies and providers.
- Services are coordinated at the community level through District Coordinating Councils made up of families and community members involved in early intervention services.
Services for the child and family are provided in the child’s natural environment (to the maximum extent appropriate).
Transition from Early Intervention to Preschool Special Education
WHAT IS TRANSITION?
Transition can occur at anytime there is a change from one service delivery system to another. An example of transition is when the infant comes home from the hospital, receives home-based services, then goes into child care. Transition also occurs when a child involved in Alabama’s Early Intervention System becomes 30 months old and prepares to move into the preschool special education program or other appropriate programs for 3-year-olds. Transition planning helps make the move smoother by looking at the current and future needs of the family, the child, the service the child is leaving, and the next service the child is entering. The law for early intervention and special education, P.L. 105-17, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) amendments of 2004, Part B and Part C, support a “seamless” system of services for children from birth through age 5. The law requires that this should be a smooth activity, that services should continue throughout the transition period, and that there should be no interruption in services for the child.
TRANSITION FOR YOUNG CHILDREN FROM
EARLY INTERVENTION TO PRESCHOOL.
Transition for young children with disabilities involves the movement from services provided through early intervention to preschool special education and the movement from preschool special education to school-aged programming. The process requires planning, implementation, and follow-up. The transition process includes activities to assist the family and child in moving from one service delivery system to another. A vital component of the transition process is the follow-up activities to determine the success of transition. The key to success is communication between all those involved.
Transition from early intervention to preschool special education must:
- Begin when the toddler is 30 months of age.
- Include the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) ready for implementation on the child’s third birthday.
- Provide preschool special education services through the LEA or through arrangements with other community-based programs.
- Include follow-up activities to ensure success of the process.
The LEA is responsible for the provision of special education and related services for all eligible children at the age of 3 years. As previously stated, planning for this transition begins at least six months before the child’s third birthday. The child may remain in early intervention and continue being serviced through an IFSP until the third birthday. The transition plan included in the IFSP must state what will happen when the child becomes 3 years old.