If your child is 3 years or older, they may qualify for preschool services under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

It is the local school district’s responsibility to identify, screen and evaluate children who have disabilities and may be entitled to special education services.  

Eligibility – Eligibility for Part B services are based on observation, screening, and evaluation results.

IEP and Services – If your child qualifies for services, a Preschool School Team, with you as a member, will decide what educational goals will be on your child’s Individualized Education Plan, IEP.

Cost of Services – Services included in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) are provided at no cost to your family.  Under federal law, this is called FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education.

Comparison of The BabyNet Program (Part C) and the Preschool Program (Part B)

Birth through age 3Age 3 through 21
Is inclusive of the family’s needsFocuses on the child’s needs
Services provided at homeServices provided at school
Families are assigned a service coordinatorNo service coordinator
Generally reviewed every 6 monthsGenerally reviewed once a year
IFSP Team makes decisionsIEP Team makes decisions
Governed under Part C of IDEAGoverned under Part B of IDEA

Ideas for a Smooth Transition

The IDEA requires a minimum 6 month transition period from early intervention to preschool. Parents and schools can work together to make the transition process and preschool experience meaningful and productive.

 The first and most essential step is to build a strong relationship between the parent and the school. Successful outcomes are most likely to be reached when both the school and family are working together toward the same goals. Some additional steps to support a transition into preschool are:

girl colors at an art table

1.  Prepare for the IFSP/IEP transition meetings.  Families should visit preschools and meet with the preschool teachers and other staff prior to the transition meeting. It is often helpful for parents to bring along another parent, family member, or the family’s early intervention specialist so that there is someone with whom they can discuss their visit. Parents should be familiar with their rights as well as service obligations for their child under Part B of IDEA prior to the transition meeting.

2.  Think of preschool as transition.   Another consideration is to recognize that transition doesn’t have to happen in 6 months. If we think about the entire preschool experience as the transition between early intervention and school-age programs, we can combine the benefits of family-focused services with the language and social experiences of early education programs.

3. Maintain consistent and effective communication.   Families need to know that their input is valued. Schools should listen carefully to what families are saying. Parents are encouraged to ask questions and seek clarification of information.

4. Establish roles and expectations together.   It is helpful for parents to know what to expect from the school, as well as what is expected of them. Discuss this relationship with your child’s school so that everyone is clear about respective roles and responsibilities.

Despite these differences, there is an important similarity. IDEA states that parents are equal members of the IFSP team and the IEP team. 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.

Remember, You are Your Child’s Number One Teacher and Advocate!

Many children with developmental delays are not identified as early as possible. Screening tools allow us to recognize potential delays sooner and provide early intervention, which is a key factor for children experiencing positive outcomes in the future.