Preschool Services Under IDEA

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1 Preschoo Services Under IDEA W e don t usuay think of Specific Learning Disabiities in connection with chidren beow schoo age. When we think about chidren age birth to six, we think first of their earning abiities in the achievement of deveopmenta miestones waking, running, cimbing, taking in sentences, acquiring vocabuary concepts, earning to read and earning to pay aone and with others. Whie the preschoo years are a time of triumphs for most chidren and famiies, approximatey 8% of a young chidren are identified as having disabiities that may prevent their reaching these important miestones as expected. It was with these chidren and their famiies in mind that Congress created the Part C Infant/Todder Program and the Preschoo Specia Education Program in 1986 when it reauthorized the Individuas with Disabiities Education Act (IDEA). Some chidren with diagnosed conditions such as Down s syndrome or Cerebra Pasy identified at birth or shorty thereafter receive services through the Part C Infant/ Todder Program. They may make the transition to the preschoo specia education program at age three. Other chidren do not raise concerns unti after the third birthday and, if eigibe, may be enroed in what is commony referred to as the Section 619 Preschoo Program. You can read about and become famiiar with the features of IDEA in NCLD s IDEA Parent Guide. Downoad the Guide at I m not sure my preschoo chid is deveoping normay. What shoud I do? You and/or others who know your chid may have questions or concerns about his or her deveopment. Your pediatrician, we-chid cinic staff, or preschoo teacher can hep to answer your questions and suggest next steps. It may be that no next steps are necessary as your chid is deveoping within the norma range. However, if there is concern, you can contact your oca schoo system s director of Specia Education programs for a diagnostic screening at no cost to you through the IDEA process caed Chid Find. This screening wi hep you confirm whether or not a disabiity or deay exists. (Loca pubic schoo systems are required to conduct Chid Find to ocate and identify chidren and students from birth 21.) The Superintendent of Schoos office can te you how to reach this individua. Your oca schoo system may aso have a staff member whose job is excusivey to coordinate preschoo specia education referras. 1 Parent Advocacy Brief: Preschoo Services Under IDEA Nationa Center for Learning Disabiities

2 No two chidren grow and deveop at the same pace or in the same way. Some chidren who are not identified at birth as having a disabiity may have more subte issues that can cause parents and/or professionas to suspect that there is a probem around the ages of three -five. They may have speech and anguage deays or disorders, put shoes or mittens on the wrong feet or hands, have difficuty remembering directions, be uninterested in paying eary earning games or istening to stories, or seem generay midy uncoordinated. If this is your chid, you may be saying Something s going on. I don t know what it is. On one hand, preschoo specia education may be needed to ensure that your young chid wi make progress in ater schoo years. On the other hand, emphasis on faiures and probems and prescriptive teaching can damage a chid s sef image. NCLD offers a parent-friendy check-ist (http://www.ncd. org/images/stories/downoads/parent_center/dcheckist. pdf ) that may hep you determine whether your observations and feeings may be vaid. If you decide to seek preschoo screening that may ead to specia education services for your chid at home or at schoo, IDEA offers two eigibiity categories that may refect what is happening with your chid. You can downoad the Next Steps document at Specific Learning Disabiity (SLD) means that a chid has a disorder in one or more of the basic psychoogica processes invoved in understanding or in using anguage, spoken or written. These difficuties may manifest themseves in the imperfect abiity to isten, think, speak, read, write, spe, or do mathematica cacuations. The term incudes such conditions as perceptua disabiities, brain injury, minima brain dysfunction, dysexia, and deveopmenta aphasia. It does not incude menta retardation, cutura difference or environmenta disadvantage. (IDEA Section 1402 (30)) In making the decision to identify a young chid as earning disabed, professionas have to rue out other factors such as speech/ anguage deays, ate booming, environmenta factors and emotiona issues. The IDEA Amendments of 2004 did away with the absoute requirement for a severe discrepancy between age and achievement to be needed in the determination of an SLD, athough severe discrepancy is sti in use by some states. The decision can now aso be based on criteria estabished by each state based on a chid s response to scientific research-based interventions (Response to Intervention, (RTI)) and on a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance in ight of age, grade eve standards or inteectua deveopment. (IDEA 2004 Fina Reguations Update, What is a Deveopmenta Deay? What is a Specific Learning Disabiity? Deveopmenta Deay means that a young chid has a deay or disorder in sensory, physica, menta, or socia/emotiona deveopment or has mutipe deays in comparison to his or her peers, as documented by diagnostic testing. IDEA aows states to use this eigibiity category up to age 9 and to estabish their own criteria such as deveopmenta inventories and/or informed cinica opinion. (IDEA- Section 1402) (Young chidren who may ater be identified as Learning Disabed are frequenty incuded in this category.) In , 260,692 chidren age 3-5 were identified as having Deveopmenta Deays. During the same period 12,065 chidren age 3-5 were identified with Specific Learning Disabiities. 2 Parent Advocacy Brief: Preschoo Services Under IDEA Nationa Center for Learning Disabiities (Source:

3 The Recognition & Response Web site, offers information and resources to hep eary educators address the needs of young chidren (3 to 5 year-ods) who show signs that they may not be earning in an expected manner, even before they begin kindergarten. What is the federa specia education program for chidren age 3-5? Section 619 of Part B of IDEA, defines the preschoo program which guarantees a free appropriate pubic education (FAPE) to chidren with disabiities age three through five. Under this program preschoo chidren who have disabiities are entited to Specia Education and Reated Services in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Young chidren, who have been identified as having any of the conditions named in Part B of IDEA incuding Deveopmenta Deays, are eigibe to receive services under Section 619 of IDEA. In each state department of education there is a staff member, the Preschoo Grant Coordinator, who is responsibe for administering the state s Section 619 Preschoo Grant monies for deveoping, maintaining and providing information about the program in the state. The shorthand tite for these individuas is 619 Coordinator. The Nationa Eary Chidhood Technica Assistance Center provides contact information for the 619 Coordinators at In addition to contacting your oca director of specia education or eary chidhood specia education coordinator, you may want to speak with your state s 619 Coordinator. He or she can provide you with hepfu information about your rights, about oca programs and services and in some cases be present at meetings to assist with the process. 3 Parent Advocacy Brief: Preschoo Services Under IDEA Nationa Center for Learning Disabiities Doesn t universa pubic education begin at Age 5-6? Yes. However, across the country, many chidren are enroed in some type of preschoo program. In impementing IDEA Section 619, the states have made it possibe for 500,000 chidren with disabiities to receive their Specia Education preschoo services either totay in a genera preschoo schoo, chid care, or Head Start setting or in a combination of these settings with specia education. (www. ideadata. org) As much as possibe, preschoo chidren with disabiities need to spend time in eary chidhood settings in order to earn the give and take of pay, to hear norma spoken anguage and to earn pre-reading and other cognitive earning skis presented in the reguar preschoo curricuum. Preschoo-age chidren with disabiities are first and foremost chidren and need to be with their same age peers. Each chid s team must take the individua chid s needs into account when deciding on the best educationa environment. Sometimes chidren wi earn best in settings other than the genera preschoo cassroom. NCLD s IDEA Parent Guide provides information about the continuum of pacements that moves from the mainstream to sefcontained settings. In the fa of 2005, 704,087 chidren age 3-5 were being served through Section 619 or approximatey 8% of this age group in the genera US popuation. (Source: $380 miion doars was awarded to the states and territories to hep with the cost of the program in

4 How do the pubic schoos provide genera education cassroom earning environments for young chidren with disabiities? Pubic schoos in 23 states work with Head Start, pubic and private chidcare and preschoo providers to offer integrated earning environments for young chidren, incuding those with disabiities. This coaboration may be supported by written interagency agreements or memorandums of understanding at the state and/or oca eves. In some cases, the schoos ook within their own programs to offer settings such as a Vocationa Education Lab Preschoo setting or a Reverse Mainstream cassroom. Exampes of these types of programs can be found in the District of Coumbia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, New York and Pennsyvania. (Nationa Association for the Education of Young Chidren, In these settings, preschoo specia education staff works side by side with eary chidhood cassroom teachers to provide services for a chidren within the cassroom setting. Who decides if my chid is eigibe for preschoo specia education? A team, which incudes you the parent and professionas speciaizing in evauating the needs of young chidren, wi assess and review test resuts, reports and a other pertinent information. This team must carefuy consider a information about the chid s deveopment and medica history before making a decision. As you can imagine, eigibiity decisions for young chidren are compicated and depend on consideration of environmenta, anguage and socio-economic factors in addition to any testing resuts. For more information about team membership and eigibiity determination, see the IDEA Parents Guide at ideaguide. What happens after my chid is found eigibe for preschoo specia education? Once eigibiity is determined, the same team, incuding parents, deveops an Individuaized Education Pan (IEP). The IEP is a bueprint for teaching the chid and is based on the information about the chid gained from the screening and diagnostic testing. It incudes goas and services for the chid, and is impemented by preschoo cassroom teachers with the hep of specia educators and reated service professionas. In some states, home-based services are provided for young chidren who do not require additiona preschoo services. The team that deveops the IEP determines what educationay reated services are needed. These may incude speech therapy, occupationa therapy and physica therapy, to name a few. Preschoo-specific services may incude socia activities with typicay deveoping young chidren in the community. The IEP wi incude goas in a areas identified during assessment and evauation as needing attention. Typicay, these incude cognitive, speech and anguage, gross and fine motor and socia and emotiona deveopment. Where woud my chid receive preschoo specia education services? Your chid may aready be attending preschoo. Your oca pubic schoo system may agree to have your chid continue in that setting and pay for the portion of the time that the IEP is impemented in that setting. Or, your chid may receive speciaized services at home by a speciaist (e.g. speech anguage or occupationa therapy). If your chid needs some services that can ony be impemented in a specia setting, the schoo system must pay for the chid s transportation to and from that setting. If your chid is not enroed in a preschoo, chidcare, or Head Start program, the schoo system must work with you in determining the right setting for your chid. Athough there is no universa pre-kindergarten program in this country, many states have pubic pre-k programs for specific age groups and popuations. 4 Parent Advocacy Brief: Preschoo Services Under IDEA Nationa Center for Learning Disabiities

5 What if I disagree with my chid s education team about eigibiity or any part of the IEP and services? If test resuts or other information ead you or members of your chid s team to disagree about your chid s disabiity or desired earning environment, or on the way the process has been impemented, you can do severa things. You can: Refuse to sign the IEP Request an independent educationa evauation Request an informa due process hearing (maybe named a different term, i.e., administrative hearing) to share your concerns with a district representative Fie a forma due process request to present your case to an officer appointed by the state department of education Fie a forma compaint if you think that the procedura safeguards have not been foowed Request that any disputes be mediated by a trained professiona A successfu mediation wi resut in an agreement that refects the consensus of a parties. A forma compaint wi be investigated by someone appointed by your state department of education, who wi review the information and make a report of findings and recommend a soution. A Due Process Hearing is the most forma of these steps. It is ed by a Hearing Officer who hears the arguments of both sides, which are usuay presented by attorneys. The Hearing Officer makes a decision based on the facts presented. Any of the steps in dispute resoution might seem chaenging to parents of young chidren, especiay to those who speak a anguage other than Engish. For this reason, IDEA supports a network of Parent Training and Information Centers. Each state has one or more of these centers. NCLD s IDEA Guide (www.d.org/ideaguide) provides a fu expanation of the options isted as we as additiona resources. What is the Part C Option? Is my preschoo chid eigibe for enroment in my state s Part C program? Part C of IDEA reguates the process by which infants and todders (from birth to age 3) receive services. The 2004 amendments to the IDEA created an option for chidren identified before age three and enroed in the Part C program to continue in that program up to age six. If a chid was not enroed in the Part C program prior to December 2004, this option is not open. The purpose of the option is to aow fexibiity, if wanted, for states to make Part C services avaiabe to chidren from age 3 unti eigibe to enter kindergarten or eementary schoo. This aows for a smoother transition for chidren who have received services from a very young age whie promoting schoo readiness, eary iteracy, anguage and numeracy skis in the services offered. For chidren who are newy identified at age three through pre-kindergarten, services must be provided under Part B Section 619 of IDEA. The fina reguations for Part C incuding this option are expected to be pubished in the fa of Parent Advocacy Brief: Preschoo Services Under IDEA Nationa Center for Learning Disabiities

6 Where can I earn more about earning disabiities and young chidren, the aw, and my chid s and my rights? Many information resources are avaiabe to you if you are the parent of a young chid who may have a earning disabiity. IDEA Parent Guide NCLD offers an IDEA Parent Guide at as we as a parent center and guidance on eary iteracy and eary chidhood education at www. getreadytoread.org. The US Department of Education The US Department of Education, Office of Specia Education Programs has created a Web site, www. ed.gov/, that contains IDEA 2004 resources. The Nationa Eary Chidhood Technica Assistance Center The Nationa Eary Chidhood Technica Assistance Center (NECTAC) (www.nectac.org) incudes information on the Section 619 Preschoo Program and state contacts maiing addresses. Parent Training and Information Centers In every state there is at east one parent center. To ocate the parent center or centers in your state you can contact the Nationa Technica Assistance Center at its nationwide to-free number 888/ or ocate a center near you at Parent Centers serve famiies of chidren and young aduts from birth to age 22 with a disabiities. Their purpose is to hep famiies obtain appropriate education resuts for a chidren. In Concusion The IDEA Preschoo Program (Section 619) supports education services for young chidren with disabiities who are identified after their third birthday. It offers eary earning experiences in anguage, reading and writing skis, pay, and other socia emotiona areas. Preschoo specia education is avaiabe through your pubic schoo system. Activities and studies being conducted in different states and by the US Department of Education are starting to provide information that show that the program does hep chidren to succeed in their ater schoo years. You can ook at evauation activities in the different states at the Eary Chidhood Outcomes Center Web Site to earn how states are working to become accountabe for chidren s earning. Becoming informed about the Section 619 program, whether or not you choose to pursue enroment for your chid, can hep you with present and future decisions about your chid s schoo years. About the Author: Luzanne Pierce, MAT, is a former Section 619 Coordinator for the state of New Hampshire. From 1992 to 2003 she directed the NECTAC (Nationa Eary Chidhood Technica Assistance Center) sub-contract at NASDSE (Nationa Association of State Directors of Specia Education). She is the co-author of eary chidhood documents on Autism, Preschoo Incusion, transitions and other topics for NECTAC and NASDSE and a contributor to the 20th Annua Report to Congress on the IDEA impementation. The discovery of her daughter s earning disabiity ed her to become a preschoo specia education teacher. 6 Parent Advocacy Brief: Preschoo Services Under IDEA Nationa Center for Learning Disabiities

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