Early intervention is designed for children from birth up to age three. At that point, services under early intervention end. A transition plan to make the change/transition from Early On® to something else, is part of the Individualized Family Service Plan process. Where your child goes and what they do after Early On® is an individualized decision. Your transition plan will include what you want next and how to make it happen, and ways to help your child be ready for these changes. This planning must start at least 90 days and no more than six months before your child’s third birthday.
Your service coordinator will schedule a meeting to develop the transition plan (sometimes called a transition conference). There are specific important dates so that all the activities can be completed before your child’s third birthday.
- Family Guidebook English, Spanish, Arabic
- Special Education Services for Preschoolers with Disabilities
What about eligibility for special education services?
If you have concerns about your preschooler’s development, the first step towards receiving special education services is asking your school district to complete a comprehensive evaluation to determine eligibility.
- Eligibility Resources including sample letters, timelines, eligibility criteria, and answers to common questions.
Where will my child go to preschool?
Students with disabilities should attend preschool with non-disabled peers. Where a student with a disability receives special education and related services is an IEP team decision. IDEA requires placement in the least restrictive environment (LRE) for each child, a setting that is based on the child’s IEP. MORE ON LRE & PLACEMENT
If your child has caught up to other children their age and services are no longer needed, or your child is not eligible for special education, you should connect with local resources within your community.
If your child needs continued supports and is eligible for Part C services, you can access the same community resources available to all families, along with your child’s transition to receiving special education services.
If your child needs to be evaluated for special education services, the first step is to make a request for a comprehensive evaluation for special education services.
- A high-quality early childhood program is one that is inclusive of children with disabilities. Federal Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs OSEP
- Great Start Readiness Program is a state-funded preschool program. Development Delay is considered when figuring eligibility for GSRP.
- Head Start is a federally funded kindergarten readiness program for children under age 5. This includes Early Head Start for children under 3. Head Start regulations require at least 10 percent of enrollees are children with disabilities, and income requirements may be waived.
- Great Start Connect program has a list of licensed preschools
- MI Kids Matter Preschool Programs for Ages 3-5 Years
- Early Childhood Special Education webpage
We know that where a child attends preschool can set the trajectory for the rest of their educational career. In Michigan, the majority of young students with disabilities are not being educated with their typical peers. A statewide workgroup has identified specific actions that would result in preschools having a more inclusive experience.
Michigan is expanding preschool options so every 4-year-old can access a free preschool education by 2027. Parents have an opportunity to share your perspective on how to make PreK work for *all* in Michigan.
This miprek4all.org form is an opportunity to provide insight, feedback, and recommendations to inform Michigan’s efforts to expand GSRP (aka PreK for All). There are specific questions about children with a disability and who speak a language other than English at home.
What other changes are there between Early On and preschool regarding special education?
There are many differences between Early On® (Part C) and Special Education (Part B) including:
- Instead of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), you and your child’s team will develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
- The term natural environments used in the Early On system. School age students should be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). LRE means that children with disabilities should receive services in typical community-based early childhood settings and programs whenever possible, and only go to more restrictive/specialized settings if a child’s individual needs require it.
Developing a vision…
This is a time when many parents start thinking, even worrying about school. Now is the time to start developing a vision for your child’s future. It is hard to think of your 3 year old as a 4th grader or their first year in high school. You might have heard the word inclusion. For children with developmental delays and/or a disability, inclusion is the concept that supports the idea that they are more like their non-disabled peers than they are different.
Think positive! Think possible! Research shows that when children with disabilities who are educated alongside their non-disabled friends there are better outcomes for both!
Michigan Alliance for Families can help you connect with families and organizations that support inclusion in school and community. Additional resources for information on inclusion:
- To learn more or to ask for help, contact Michigan Alliance for Families at 1-800-552-4821 or email@example.com
- Considering LRE in Placement Decisions NICHCY Legacy
- School Inclusion NICHCY Legacy
- Placement Short and Sweet NICHCY Legacy
Being prepared and planning to make your child’s transition smooth is another way that you help your child develop and learn.