Early Start is a program mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to provide early intervention services to infants 0-2 years of age with developmental disabilities or at risk for developmental disabilities. In California the law has been put into place under the California Early Intervention Services Act.
The lead administrative agency for Early Start in California is the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), which implements services through the Regional Centers. Ventura County SELPA interacts with two Regional Centers- the Tri-Counties Regional Center (serving residents of Ventura County) and the North Los Angeles County Regional Center (serving residents of Los Angeles County).
The public schools are required by law to collaborate with the Regional Centers to provide services to a limited number of Early Start eligible children. The public schools also provide ONLY special education services to a limited number of children also served by the Regional Center. In the Ventura County SELPA, the program is operated by four local districts, which operate as regional providers for all other districts in their area. The four districts are:
Ventura Unified School District
Simi Valley Unified School District
Oxnard School District
Conejo Valley Unified School District
The majority of children eligible for services under Early Start are served by the Regional Center alone. Rainbow Connection Family Resource Center is the publicly funded agency to provide information and support to families in the Early Start program.