The SELPA assures that 3-4-5 year olds with disabilities not yet in kindergarten have access to special education services, as per EC 56440. At this age, children qualify for services under the categories same as for K-12. Eligibility is established via assessment conducted by the school district team, which may include several professionals and parent input. The decision about whether or not a child is eligible for special education services is made by the IEP Team, including parents, based on the assessment results.
By participating in the SELPA, each local school district has access to a full range of special education programs and services, regardless of size. The Intra-District Program Chart for Preschoolers shows which district provides which services, at no cost to families. Services are always determined by the IEP team process.
Primary Special Education Services which may be provided to preschoolers are:
1. Individual and Small Group (ISG) Services provided in a preschool setting
2. Intensive Individualized Instruction (III), which is extra adult support for all or part of the day in a preschool setting
3. Language and Speech Services provided individually, in small groups, or as a consultation with the preschool teacher
In addition to the Primary Special Education Services, an IEP Team may also decide a child needs a Related Service, which are services to assist the child in benefiting from their special education program. Related Services may include (but are not limited to):
1. Occupational Therapy- To assist the child in accessing the activities of the preschool environment
2. Physical Therapy- To provide access and safety to the preschool program
3. Health and Nursing Services
5. Vision Services (for blind/low vision)
6. Orientation and Mobility (for students with visual impairments)
7. Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services
8. Physical and Health Impairments Services
*NOTE: Adapted P.E. is not provided to preschoolers, as there is no "regular P.E." program required by law for preschool.
All of the above might be provided in the context of a regular preschool (such as Head Start or Community Preschool), in a special education preschool taught by a credentialed special education teacher, or in a therapy room or home/community setting. As special education services are school-based services, the goal is always to increase the child's readiness or ability to participate and learn in school. This is different than the services provided in the Early Start Program as those services are focused on the child's functioning within the family context, and are often more therapeutic in nature.
The State of California has adopted Preschool Learning Foundations which are considered to be the core learnings necessary for any preschool program. The special education preschools in the Ventura County SELPA all use the Learning Foundations as the core for their instructional programs.