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Special Education Process – Birth to 2

Phase 1 — Referral

The process of receiving special education services begins with a referral. A referral may be made by anyone who suspects that a child may have special needs, a delay in development, or a disability.

This can be done by:

Parents, family members, guardians, physicians, day care or preschool providers, teachers, or staff members from community agencies may refer a child if they have concerns about a child’s difficulty:

  • Using words
  • Understanding directions
  • Being understood by others
  • Hearing
  • Seeing
  • Sitting up or walking
  • Learning

Children may also be referred if there are concerns about problems at birth, general health, medical conditions, behavior, or emotional development.

As part of the referral process, identifying information is obtained from the parents, and a parent referral, parent questionnaire, and “Ages and Stages Questionnaire” are sent to them. Members of the Child Find team and the parents/guardians meet to review the written referral and the questionnaires completed by the parent.

When appropriate, a Preschool Educational Report, observations by private preschool teachers, and assessments provided by the parent are obtained and reviewed. Upon review of the existing information, the IEP team may recommend that additional information regarding developmental areas, vision, or hearing be gathered. If the IEP team suspects that the child has a disability and may need special education, assessments in all areas related to the suspected disability are recommended.

Phase 2 — Evaluation

Once a referral is made, a service coordinator from one of the participating agencies will then contact the family to arrange for the intake process to continue. Evaluations are completed to determine if the child is eligible for early intervention services. Health and developmental needs may be identified in the areas of:

  • Hearing
  • Speech
  • Language
  • Physical Development
  • Cognitive Development
  • Social-Emotional Development
  • Self Help Skills

Children are eligible to receive services if they have a developmental delay, atypical development likely to result in subsequent delay, or a diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay.

Assessment reports are reviewed at an IEP team meeting and a written evaluation report is completed to determine whether the child is a child with a disability. The evaluation report includes a summary of the child’s performance in each area of suspected disability; relevant functional, cognitive, developmental, behavioral, and physical information; and instructional implications for the preschool child’s participation in appropriate activities. The IEP team completes the evaluation of the child within 60 days of receiving the signed permission to test or 90 days from the date of the receipt of the signed written referral, whichever comes first. The parent is given a copy of the assessment reports, the Evaluation Report, and the IEP Team Meeting summary. For those children eligible for services, an Individualized Education Program is developed. Assessments are ongoing procedures throughout a child’s eligibility to identify the child’s unique strengths and needs, concerns, priorities, and resources of the family, and the supports and services necessary to enhance the family’s capacity to meet the developmental needs of the child.

Phase 3 — Individualized Education Program

If a child is determined to have a disability, an IEP is developed by the school staff with input from the parents within 30 days of the meeting to review assessment results. The IEP team reviews the IEP, identifies services needed to implement the IEP, and considers options for the provision of services in the least restrictive environment.