Part B of IDEA mandates that state departments of education must provide, through local programs, a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to all eligible 3, 4, and 5-year-old children with disabilities. Identification and referrals may be made directly to the local education agency by parents. If your child has participated in Early Intervention services (Part C), then the transition process can be facilitated by your Early Intervention Service Coordinator (EISC). The Preschool Program provides services for 3 and 4 year-old children who have disabilities and 5-year olds with disabilities who are not old enough for kindergarten. The needs of these children are unable to be met in a natural environment (the regular education preschool classroom) without special education and related services.
The transition process usually starts 6 months before your child turns 3 years old. Your EISC will facilitate the transition from your Early Intervention program. If you were not participating in an Early Intervention program, referrals can be made to your Local Education Agency (LEA) Preschool Coordinator through the Exceptional Children’s Program. They will be happy to assist you in the process.
A Transition Conference may be held to discuss concerns, develop a plan, learn more about the special education program, meet the personnel and share your concernss and wishes for your child and your choice of communication option with them. You should visit preschool programs, observe the children and teachers during their daily activity in the classroom, and talk with the teachers, as well as with a few of the parents. Look for programs that are family-centered and have resources to enhance the child’s development and learning.
To qualify for the Preschool Program, your child must meet preschool eligibility criteria based on his/her need for services. Your EISC or BEGINNINGS’ Parent Educator can help you contact your LEA for further information. If your child does not qualify for the services from the LEA Preschool Program, you will be directed to other resources.