School Districts Are Obligated to Provide Special Education Services to Children Ages 3 to 5
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is federal legislation that regulates how special education services are provided to students. Under IDEA, states are required to provide Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for every student with a disability through the age of 21.
To identify a special education student’s particular needs, school districts are required to provide an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is a legal document. IEP meetings are required to enable parents, educators, administrators, and school personnel the opportunity to create an actionable plan to meet the child’s educational, personal growth, and vocational needs.
According to IDEA, every IEP should include a statement describing how the school district will provide the following:
- Special education and related services
- Supplementary aids and services
- Program modifications
- Supports for school personnel
Services for Infants and Toddlers
It’s never too early to get help for a child with developmental delays or learning and thinking differences. Eligible infants and toddlers must be provided with an Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP). From infancy until age 3, a child may be eligible for IFSB early intervention services provided free of charge in your own home, such as occupational therapy or speech therapy.
Getting an IEP for Your Preschooler
If your child is between the ages of 3 and 5 and you have concerns about their development, watch your child closely and make a list of observations and behaviors that may indicate a learning or thinking difference.
If your concerns persist, you can request a referral for an evaluation from your child’s physician and/or their preschool teacher. Once you have a referral, contact your local school district and request an IEP for your child. IDEA includes the Child Find mandate, requiring all school districts to locate and evaluate children with disabilities from birth through age 21.
The Child Find mandate requires each school district to devise a practical method to determine which children are receiving the needed special education services. These children must receive special education services from their local school district at no cost to the family.
When states have failed to adequately provide special education services for pre-kindergarten students, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education has accepted plans requiring them to publicize the availability of these services using the following methods:
- Brochure mailings
- Door-to-door surveys
- Contacts with day care providers
- Surveys of school personnel
Services Are Available for Your Child
Once an IEP has been written for a child who has not yet entered kindergarten, the district is obligated to provide intervention services. These services may be provided in the student’s home or in a preschool setting. Early intervention services may include:
- Assistive technology
- Speech and language services
- Medical services
- Physical therapy
- Psychological service
- Family training
- Auditory or hearing services
Is Your Child Being Denied Special Education Services?
Regardless of your child’s age, your local school district is required to evaluate your child and provide an IEP when you request it. If the school refuses, contact a special education attorney right away.
At Woodsmall Law Group, we serve children with special needs and their parents in Los Angeles County, focusing on the San Gabriel Valley. We have been helping families make the most out of their educational opportunities for over 18 years.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s placement or the services they are receiving, please call (626) 440-0028 to schedule a FREE initial consultation. We speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, and Spanish.