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Published by: alisonlw on May 13, 2010
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Supporting Families in Transition between EarlyIntervention and School Age Programs
by Cheryl Johnson, Special Education Unit, Colorado Department of Education
The transitions between early intervention and preschoolservices, and later preschool and kindergarten, are emotionalfor all parents as they watch their little ones grow. Add adisability such as hearing loss, and these emotions aremagnified. Issues associated with the disability intertwinedwith the responsibility of making the right choices for theirchildren’s future often results in a time of uncertainty thatis exacerbated by an education process that can seemunwelcoming.
Part C to Part B Transition
Most difficult for families is the change from the family-focused services of early intervention (Part C) to the child-centered education programs of Part B. In Part C, familyinvolvement is mandatory and parents are expected to bethe decision makers for their child’s services. Throughoutthe Part C years, families are taught and encouraged toprovide and advocate for their children’s needs. Then whenthey enter Part B programs at age 3, the school assumes theprimary educational responsibility. During this time, thevalues and priorities of the parents may not match those of the educational team. The chart accompanying this articleprovides a comparison between Part C and Part Brequirements under the Individuals with DisabilitiesEducation Act (IDEA) including details of the provisionsthat pertain specifically to hearing loss.The IDEA requires a minimum 6 month transition periodfrom early intervention to preschool. This period is filledwith the evaluations and meetings that are required by thelaw, and families often feel rushed to make decisions. As aresult, parents frequently feel the need for additionalconversations to answer questions about their child’spotential services.
The extra time not only helps to easesome of the feelings of uncertainty but also begins to build a positive relationship with the school personnel.
Making the Transition Process Family Friendly
What can schools and parents do to make the transitionprocess and preschool experience meaningful andproductive? The first and most essential step is to build strongpartnerships between families and schools. Successfuloutcomes are most likely to be reached when both the schooland family are working together toward the same goals.Some additional steps to support a transition into preschoolare suggested below.
1. Prepare for the IFSP/IEP transition meetings.
Families should visit preschools and meet with the preschoolteachers and other staff prior to the transition meeting. It isoften helpful for parents to bring along another parent orfamily member or the family’s early intervention specialistso that there is someone with whom they can discuss theirvisit. The preschool teacher may be willing to meet with thefamily members in thehome. Parents may alsowant to bring anotherperson to support them atthe transition meeting.Parents should be familiarwith their rights as wellas service obligations fortheir child under Part B of IDEA prior to thetransition meeting.
2. Think of preschool as transition.
Another consideration isto recognize thattransition doesn’t have tohappen in 6 months. If we think about the entire preschoolexperience as the transition between early intervention andschool-age programs, we can combine the benefits of family-focused services with the language and social experiencesof early education programs.
3. Maintain consistent and effective communication.
Families need to feel that their input is valued. Schoolsshould listen carefully to what families are saying. Weeklywritten information and follow-up phone calls from theschool help maintain open communication. Parents shouldbe encouraged to ask questions and seek clarification of information.
4. Establish roles and expectations together.
Familiesneed a game plan. They need to know what to expect fromschool as well as what is expected of them. Discuss thisrelationship with your child’s school so that everyone is clearabout respective roles and responsibilities.
5. Continue home visits.
Home visiting is the hallmark of early intervention programs. Why should they end withthe transition to Part B? Home visits give teachers andparents an opportunity to maintain consistent, effectivecommunication. It also gives the teacher an opportunity tosupport and provide information to parents, to view the childin the familiar environment of the home, and to observe thecommunication styles used in the home.
6. Flexible programs and schedules.
Young childrenentering preschool for the first time may not be ready forthe same preschool experience as that of older preschoolchildren. Parents can discuss with the school the amount of time that their child will attend preschool. For some children,a combination of home-based support and preschool maybe most effective.
7. Use the Communication Plan.
The methodologybiases of professionals have caused parents perhaps more
Benefits of Transition Planning
For Parents:
Increased confidence intheir children’s ability toachieve in the new setting.Improved self-confidencein their own ability tocommunicate with educa-tional staff and to effec-tively influence the educa-tion system.A sense of pride andcommitment in theirongoing involvement in theeducation of their children.A greater knowledge andappreciation of earlychildhood programs andstaff.
For Teachers:
Increased knowledge of the children and enhancedability to meet individualneeds.Increased parental andcommunity support.More resources and alarger network of profes-sional support.Increased awareness of thepreschool program in thecommunity.A renewed sense of profes-sionalism and pride in theirefforts to reach out toyoung children and theirfamilies.
For Children:
Continuity with earliereducation experiences.Increased motivation andopenness to new experi-ences.Enhanced self confidence.Improved relations withother children and adults.A greater sense of trustbetween teachers andchildren.
consternation than any other aspect of raising and educatinga child with hearing loss. It is
, not themethod, that is critical to the child’s development. Familiesand school professionals should use the Communication Planto determine how the child’s communication needs will beaccommodated and supported.
8. Establish a parent support group.
Parents benefitfrom getting together to share and learn from one another’sexperiences. Elicit the help of a “seasoned” parent to assistthe school to organize the support group and to plan theactivities. Child care, carpooling, other transportationoptions, and snacks help with attendance.Establish a calling tree to communicate with parents andto remind them of events. Provide interpreters toaccommodate deaf/hard of hearing or non-English speakingfamily members.
9. Facilitate kindergarten visitations.
Beginkindergarten visitations in the winter and spring prior toentrance into kindergarten to develop a rapport with theteacher and familiarity with the school and classroom. Besure that the kindergarten teacher has all pertinentinformation and understands the child’s IEP needs, goals,and services.
 Moving into Kindergarten
For many families, navigating the formal education programs of kindergarten and school-age services and thelegal process of IEPs seems overwhelming. Just as thetransition from early intervention to preschool needsattention, the transition to formal education requires preparation as well. As children are ready to enter kindergarten, there are specific transition activities whichmake the process run smoothly. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (1987) reported the following benefits of transition planning between preschool and kindergarten: A strong dynamic parent and professional partnership is critical if we are to achieve a positive outcome for our children. Schools cannot educate children alone. We recognize the value of parent support and involvement and that withone another’s support, our children’s educational experience will be enhanced. Let us do everything in our power tocement and sustain this commitment so that our children may have every opportunity to become successful contributingmembers of our communities.
US Department of Health & Human Services. (1987). Easing the Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten. USGovernment Printing Office.Colorado Department of Education, Early Childhood Initiatives. (2000). IDEA Part C – Part B Side by Side Comparison.Colorado Department of Education.
For a Detailed Comparison between Supports and Services provided by IDEA Parts C and B turn to page 3.
A Comparison between Infant/ToddlerSupports and Services and Preschool/School AgeSpecial Education IDEA Parts C and B
Colorado Department of Education, Local Educa-tion Agencies (LEA)IDEA/Part B, Public Law 105-17, Rules for the Ad-ministration of the Exceptional Children’s EducationAct, Article 20 of Title 22, C.R.S. (ECEA)Children, ages three through twenty-one, includingthose who have been suspended or expelled fromschool.The focus is on the child and his/her educationalneeds.LEA has the responsibility to design a process to in-form the public and to identify locale, and evaluatechildren ages birth to 21 who may be eligible to re-ceive special education services.Referral may be initiated directly by a parent,school, or other interested persons. Upon re-ceipt of a written parental permission to as-sess, assessment, planning, determination of disability, and if disabled, Individual Educa-tion Program (IEP) development shall be com-pleted within 45 school days.A multidisciplinary team of qualifiedprofessionals completes evaluation. Mustinclude formal and informal measures, frommultiple sources in the following domains:cognition, physical, communication, social/ emotional, and education and must beconducted in a family’s native language.Colorado Department of Education (CDE)Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)Part C, Public Law 105-17, Colorado Revised Stat-ues Title 27, Article 10.5Children, Ages Birth through two, inclusive.The focus is on supporting the family to meet the de-velopmental needs of the child with a delay/ 
LEA has the responsibility to design a process to in-form the public and to identify locale, and evaluatechildren ages birth –21 who may be eligible to re-ceive special education services. Once a child is iden-tified, a referral must be made to the local Part Cagency within 2 working days. In most states, a com-munity-wide interagency process is often used to meetthis requirement.Referral may be initiated directly by a parentor other interested persons. Upon receipt of any referral, a public agency will appoint aservice coordinator, who will as soon as pos-sible and within 45 calendar days complete anevaluation and assessment and hold a meetingto develop an Individualized Family ServicePlan (IFSP)
A multi disciplinary team of qualifiedprofessionals completes an evaluation thatmust include comprehensive, formal andinformal information from multiple sources inthe following domains: cognitive, physical,communication,. social/emotional. Adaptiveand family-directed voluntary assessment of resources, priorities and concerns, and mustbe conducted in the family’s native language.
ResponsibleAgenciesGoverning LawsAgesGoalsChild FindReferralEvaluationEligibility
An eligible child is one who is under age 3who meets the criteria of significant delay indevelopment in at least one of the followingdomains: cognition, communication, physical(including vision and hearing), social or emo-tional development and adaptive behavior, ORwho has a condition associated with signifi-cant delays in development.An eligible child is one who is 3 through 21and by reason of one or more of the followingconditions, is unable to receive reasonable edu-cational benefit from regular education; physi-cal impairment, vision and or hearing impair-ment, significant limited intellectual capacity,emotional disability, perceptual or communi-cative disability or speech/language disability
Part B. Children with Disabilities 3 - 21yearsPart C: Infants and Toddlers Birth—3 years

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