From the age of birth up until 3 years, special education services are provided by an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which is governed under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Once your child turns 3, special education services are provided by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and governed under Part B of IDEA. For more information on both Part C and Part B of IDEA, please visit the US Department of Education's website.
What are the differences between an IFSP and an IEP?
|Birth through age 3||Age 3-21|
|Is inclusive of the family's needs||Focuses on the child's needs|
|Services provided in natural environments||Services provided at school|
|Families are assigned a service coordinator||No service coordinator|
|Generally reviewed every 6 months||Generally reviewed 1x per year|
|IFSP Team makes decisions||IEP Team makes decisions|
|Governed under Part C of IDEA||Governed under Part B of IDEA|
Despite these differences, there is an important similarity. IDEA states that parents are equal members of the IFSP team and the IEP team. This is because parents know their child best and will always be a part of their child's life, unlike professionals who generally interact with a child for a year or two. IDEA recognizes that children are most successful when parents and professionals form partnerships to identify the strengths, needs, and developmental and educational goals for children with disabilities.
When does the transition process begin?
As early as age 2, your service coordinator and IFSP team will start to discuss the transition process with you. With your input, transition steps will be written on the
transition plan page of your child's IFSP. With your consent, the school district Child Find staff will be notified that your child is approaching age 3, and Child Find will evaluate your child to see if he/she qualifies for pre-school special education services. If your child does not qualify, your service coordinator will help connect you to other services in your community. If your child does qualify, you will develop an IEP that will meet your child's needs.
The components of the transition plan:
- The family's involvement in the transition process
- How the child will be prepared for the transition
- Evaluation/assessment information to be shared
- Discussion and documentation of options that are discussed with the family
- Part B eligibility status
The transition meeting:
A transition meeting is a required meeting that must take place no later than 90 days before your child's 3rd birthday. If your child is eligible for special education services, someone from the school district will be invited to attend the meeting along with your service coordinator, your child's current service providers, and a representative of the program that your child is going to transition into. Parents are welcome to invite family members, friends, or anyone else they would like to attend the meeting, and the meeting cannot take place without a parent or legal guardian present. Once your child turns 3, he/she will transition out of the Early Intervention Colorado program.
Examples of Part B transition programs:
- Head Start
- Private or Public Pre-School
- Other School-Age Programs
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Q. - What if someone cannot attend the transition meeting?
A. - If a required person cannot attend the meeting, that person may participate via phone, have a representative attend the meeting for them, or provide a written report to be reviewed at the meeting. You also have the right to request that the meeting be rescheduled to a time when everyone can participate.
- Q. - Can I refuse Preschool services paid for by Part B?
A. - Yes. Your IFSP team will discuss with you what they see as the potential impact on your child's development of refusing Part B services.
- Q. - Will my child continue to receive the same services?
A. - The way your child's services will be delivered will be different. They will be provided by different people and in different settings. However, the services should still be designed to meet your child's unique and individual needs, and there should not be an interruption of services.
- Q. - What should I focus on at the meeting?
A. - Focus on your child (not your child's disability) and where you think your child will best learn. A guiding question is, "Where would my child be if he/she did not have a disability?" Have high expectations for your child.
- Q. - Where can I get more information on the transition process?
A. - The following resources can be helpful:
- Early Intervention Colorado
- PEAK Parent Center provides training on transition for parents
- National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC)
PEAK Parent Center www.peakparent.org - Back-To-School Special 2011 SPEAKout Newsletter
Copyright 2011 © by PEAK Parent Center, Inc. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce may be obtained from PEAK Parent Center.
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