An IEP Checklist
Transitioning from Regional Center to School District Services
The Individual Family Service Plan And The Individualized Education Plan
During a child’s formative years, their relationship with their local school system is one of the most impactful part of their lives. Beyond helping them receive an education and learn everyday skills, schools – and the relationships children form with their classmates, teachers, and administrators – inform their social skills as they head into adulthood. Ensuring that children receive the proper education and care in school is especially important for children with special needs.
This development is supported through two programs: Individual Family Service Plans (IFSP) and Individualized Education Plan (IEP). An IFSP will help parents and regional education centers to develop and follow a personalized roadmap that outlines the services a special needs child will receive from the day they are born until they are three years. After this period, the child will begin transitioning to the second program, the IEP. Much like the IFSP, the IEP will act as a legal and educational guide to the services a special needs child will receive from the age of three to twenty-one.
Before an IEP is established, the parents and school district will have a transition IEP meeting to evaluate what is best for the child and how the school district can care for the child’s needs. This transitioning process takes place from the age of 30 months old to 36 months old, when the IEP has officially begun.
What to Expect From the Transitioning Process
The transitioning process can be a difficult but invaluable time period where parents can outline the tools and services their child has a legal right to. The transitioning process and the meetings involved during it will not encompass the child’s entire IEP, but it will lay out the first steps to ensuring the child receives a proper education for their capabilities.
IEP Transitioning Timeline
Children with special needs should begin transitioning into the local school system at the age of three so that they may properly adjust to the school system. The IEP transition period will follow a general timeline to ensure parents and school districts have enough time and resources to prepare the IEP. The transition timeline will go as follows:
30 months of Age: The parent will have an introductory meeting with the school district service coordinator. This meeting will be facilitated by the parent’s regional center service coordinator; however, if the service coordinator does not arrange the meeting, then parents can contact the school district directly to have an introductory meeting to begin the transitioning process.
31 months of Age: At this state, the school district should provide parents with an assessment plan, if they did not provide one at the introductory meeting. If one is not provided by the 31st month, parents may request one by contacting the school in writing. The district will have 15 days (excluding holidays) to issue an assessment plan. After the parents have received the assessment plan, they have 15 days to sign and deliver it to the school district.
32 months of Age: This is the best stage to request an attorney assist you with the IEP process. An attorney can help ensure your rights, as well as your child’s, are protected throughout the process and that every aspect of the IEP is fully explained to you.
32 – 36 months of Age: During this period your child will be assessed by the school district and regional center to determine the best educational plan for them. You may also have you child assessed by an independent third-party if you feel their professional opinion will be of use. You do not need to have an assessment by the regional center if your child is no longer going to be a client there.
34 months of Age: Now you will set the official date of the IEP meeting. To ensure a smooth process, the time and place should be convenient for both you and the IEP coordinator for the school district, but it should occur close to your child’s third birthday, as this is the official date where the school district will take over services from the regional center. You may request that any current service providers attend the meeting, but you may pay a fee. These service providers can help with preparing the IEP and providing additional insight.
35 months of Age: You will begin compiling doctors’ notes, progress reports, and letters from current service providers approximately two weeks before the IEP. You will also include a list of services and goals that you would like included in the IEP and request any draft assessment reports you wish to review before the IEP. You must inform the school district IEP coordinator if an advocate or attorney will be attending the IEP.
36 months of Age: At this date the IEP will go into effect and you will have your first official meeting. The school district will take over services pertaining to your child’s development and education with regards to the curriculum. Any services that may assist your child in accessing community resources will continue to be overseen by the regional center.
IEP Checklist for Before the Transition Meeting
Prior to your transition meeting, you will want to prepare and complete a checklist of steps that will help with the transition process into an IEP. This checklist should include:
- Any information regarding community resources and services
- Current level of performance in academic development based on transition assessments
- Goals for postsecondary education based on transition assessments
- Future expectations and goals for the child based on input from family members, the child, and community members
- Individuals who may be involved in the transition planning meeting
- Best dates and times for all parties to meet (parents, child, IEP school district coordinator, and regional center coordinator)
- Consent for the release of relevant information from parents and students if other agencies are involved in the IEP
- Prepare and send written notifications of the transition meeting to all parties involved
- Prepare your child for the IEP meeting and transition process
- Inform your child of their role in the transition process
- Access your child’s ability to participate in the IEP meeting and transition process
- If your child is not attending the IEP meeting, write down their desires, opinions, preferences, needs, interests, and strengths so that their perspective may be shared at the meeting
IEP Checklist for During the Transition Meeting
During the transition meeting, you will want to complete the following tasks:
- Involve your child in the meeting if they are capable and, if they are not present, inform the other members of your child’s preferences and desires
- Work with the IEP school coordinator, service provider, your attorney, and any other members to develop a plan for your child’s education
- Review your child’s assessments with regards to their present level of performance, needs, and skills
- Determine the best options for postsecondary goals
- Determine the required services for the transition process and IEP
- Discuss and review your child’s curriculum to ensure it meets your child’s needs and will allow them to reach their postsecondary goals. This curriculum can be adjusted as needed throughout the IEP
- Identify how responsibilities may be shared between agencies, if any
- Assign future responsibilities or activities, if needed by the IEP
- If this is the final IEP meeting before the child reaches the age of majority, inform them that the responsibility for their life post-IEP will be theirs
IEP Checklist for After the Transition Meeting
Following the transition meeting you will want to continue reviewing and adjusting the goals and plan for the IEP throughout your child’s development. This can include taking the following steps:
- Begin implementing the IEP and access the services available to the child
- Share the IEP with relevant teachers and staff members who will be helping educate the child
- Review the IEP goals and services with the school district coordinator
- Modify the curriculum and instructional techniques based on further assessment
- Request further assessment after the transition meeting to determine the child’s progress
- Provide ongoing transition assessment as needed for coursework, employment
- Hold any additional meetings with regard to transition or IEP planning. The child should be invited to all transition meetings regarding services
- Reconvene the IEP team or part of the team, if needed.
- Draft a Summary of Performance for a child who is graduating from or exiting high school
Preparing for and moving into a transition process can be a difficult and overwhelming task for a parent of a child with special needs. Speaking with a special education attorney at Woodsmall Law Group and inviting them to your transition meeting will ensure you and your child are fully informed of their rights throughout the IEP. If you are worried that your child’s rights and needs are not being upheld, please contact us at (626) 440-0028 today.