Early Intervention (EI) is a program through which children who qualify can receive services until their third birthday. Once your child turns three, the local school system will become your child’s service provider if they still qualify. The process of moving from EI to the school system is often called transition. The earlier you can start planning for transition the better. We’ll share four tips to help you stay on top of the process:
It’s never too early to start thinking about the transition out of EI. When your child turns two, start to talk with your service coordinator about the transition. You can start planning formally as early as nine months before your child’s third birthday. You must have a conference with your service coordinator at least three months prior to your child’s third birthday.
A child who has received services through EI does not automatically qualify for services through the school system. EI serves children who have a developmental delay; the school system serves children who have a disability. Your child will have a separate evaluation to determine whether they qualify to receive special education services.
If your child has a developmental delay, this means they aren’t doing certain things that kids usually do at their age. Kids learn things at different ages, so there is a wide range of what is “normal”. An evaluation can help determine if your child might need some support to keep making progress.
There are separate criteria under federal and state law for determining a disability. We will explore this in a couple of weeks!
3. Services from the school
If your child qualifies to continue receiving services through the school system, it is important for you to connect with the school’s special education department. You don’t need to wait for the school to contact you. They will probably be happy that you’re getting the process started! Have a Team Meeting with the EI team and school system together. You will create a new plan with the school system called an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is similar to the Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) you had through EI, but the IEP focuses on the educational needs of the child through age 21 (or 22 in some states).
4. Life after EI
If your child has reached their goals established on the IFSP, they may not need any additional services. Your EI coordinator can help you find support outside of EI, such as child care or a preschool that fits your child’s needs, informal supports, and activities for your child to join like art classes, sports, and play groups.