Volume 34, Issue 4 (Winter 2022)

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Transition at Age 3: Who, What, Where, Why, and When

Transitions can be tough. As your child learns and grows in early intervention, you may be nearing the transition from early intervention services to school-based services. The good news is that early intervention recognizes that change can be hard. Your early intervention providers should begin the transition planning process six months before your child turns 3. This provides you with time, information, and resources to learn about the transition.

What does the transition planning process look like?

The transition process begins at least by the time your child is age 2 years and 6 months (i.e., 2.5 years old). At that time, your service coordinator will ask you to sign a consent form so a referral packet can be sent to your school district. The consent form is necessary to begin the transition planning process.

Tip: You can begin the transition planning process earlier than 2.5 years old. If you want more time to plan and gather resources, and/or your child has more support needs, you can ask your service coordinator to begin transition planning earlier.

When your child is 2 years and 9 months old, your service coordinator will hold a transition planning conference. The purpose of this meeting is for the school district to learn about your child. This conference will include you (as the parent), your service coordinator, and a representative from the school district. However, you can invite others to this meeting.

For example, you may invite other EI providers to share information about your child. You also can invite your spouse, family, and friends to the meeting.

After the transition planning conference, the school district will contact you about a domain review. A domain review is to decide whether more information or evaluations are needed before the team determines if your child is eligible for school-based services. You will be asked to sign a consent form for any additional areas that require evaluation.

The evaluations will include relevant professionals (e.g., speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, social workers). Once written consent for evaluations is given, the district has 60 school days to complete evaluations, determine eligibility, and complete an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for eligible children.

Tip: The school can only evaluate areas for which you provide consent. If you do not provide consent, then that area cannot be evaluated.

After the evaluations have been completed, you will receive a copy of the evaluations and all other written materials. This should be done three days before your eligibility meeting to give you time to read the evaluations and draft questions you might have.

At the meeting, the team reviews the results of the evaluations. Then, you will discuss whether your child is eligible for school-based services. If your child is eligible, the team will draft an IEP.

How often will my child’s IEP be reviewed?

The IEP must be reviewed at least annually. However, an IEP meeting can be convened at any time to discuss changes or revisions.

Who is eligible for school-based services?

Children who qualify for school-based services, which are outlined in an IEP, must meet the following criteria:

  • Your child must meet the criteria for one of the following disabilities: autism spectrum disorder, deaf-blindness, deafness, developmental delay, emotional disability, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and/or visual impairment.
  • The disability must adversely impact your child’s educational performance.
  • Your child must need specially designed instruction and/or related services to make progress in the general education curriculum.

Where would my child receive school-based services?

Typically, if your child is eligible for school-based services, the child would receive the services in the school they would attend regardless of whether they have a disability.

Tip: In addition to the transition planning process, you should also contact your neighborhood school to register your child for early childhood services.

Why should I consider school-based services for my child?

If your child is eligible for school-based services, then these services may help your child continue to make progress. Just like therapies in EI helped your child achieve developmental milestones and goals, school-based services should help your child meet their IEP goals.

When would my child receive school-based services?

Since your child is in early intervention, if your child is eligible for school-based services, they will need to begin such services by their third birthday.

Note: Beginning in January 2022, if your child is born between May 1 and August 31 and your child is eligible for school-based services, then you may extend early intervention services through the summer. Alternatively, you can begin school-based services immediately upon turning 3. The choice is yours

Who should I contact if I have questions?

The transition from early intervention to school-based services can be difficult to navigate. In Illinois, we have two Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs). These agencies are primarily staffed by parents of children with disabilities.

They offer free training, information and referral, and individualized assistance to help you navigate school-based services.

Here are the PTIs in Illinois:

Key TermDefinition
Transition planning conferenceA meeting with the parent, the service coordinator, and a school district representative so the school can learn about your child.
Domain reviewA domain review identifies areas that require more data or evaluation. This form may also be called “identification of needed assessments.” Domains include academic achievement, functional performance, cognitive functioning, communication status, health, hearing/vision, motor abilities, and social-emotional status.
IEP teamThe IEP team includes relevant individuals who have knowledge about your child. The IEP team includes you (as the parent), your child, the general education teacher, a special education teacher, a representative from the school or school district, and, when evaluation data are discussed, someone who can explain the evaluation results. You can bring other individuals who have knowledge about your child to the IEP team. Depending on your child’s needs, the IEP team may also include a speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, social worker, and/or other professionals.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)An IEP is a personalized document about your child. It must include present levels of performance; annual goals; measures of progress; special education and related services; access to the general education curriculum; the language the services will be provided in; accommodations; modifications; supports; assessment information; assistive technology; special training or support for your child, yourself, and/or the school; extended school year services; and a description of the least restrictive environment.
IEP goalsIEP goals are individualized for your child. They should be measurable, specific, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Data should be collected for each goal.

State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) Update

We brought stakeholders together in December to discuss our progress and a plan for expanding the SSIP beyond our three initial pilot areas. We then submitted our annual report to the Office of Special Education Programs on Feb. 1.

We described the activities that have been conducted with support from local leadership teams. We also detailed information about the evaluation data being collected and our continued progress toward goals.

We will get feedback on our submission in April. In the meantime, we will continue our efforts to improve family engagement, prepare for scale-up, and enhance what we know about child outcomes.

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Early Intervention Clearinghouse is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services Bureau of Early Intervention. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Early Intervention, or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Early Intervention Clearinghouse (ISSN 1058-8396) is published quarterly.