Preschool special education services are designed to provide children between the ages of three and five years of age with disabilities with services to enhance their developmental functioning. Services are provided in the least restrictive environment. This can include home and community settings as well as in school-based settings.
Screening, Evaluation and Determination of Eligibility for Services
Preschool children may access services in one of two ways. The first process is designed for children who have been served through the Infants and Toddlers Program (ITP). A Child Find team housed at ITP works with the ITP staff to determine if children who have received early intervention services are eligible for special education services. If they determine that they are eligible, then this team designs an Individual Education Program (IEP) or Individual Family Service Plan – Extended (IFSP – Extended) in concert with the ITP staff that has worked with the child and the child receives appropriate special education services by his third birthday.
The second process is for children whose delays or disorders are suspected after the age of 2 years 10 months - 5th birthday. Parents may call the Child Find main offices to set up a screening appointment. A special education teacher or speech pathologist affiliated with Child Find will conduct a screening of the child’s development. If the child passes the screening, then the Child Find diagnostician will talk with the parent about developmental expectations and recommend other services and resources to address the parent’s concerns. If the child demonstrates a delay in a domain of development [cognition, expressive and receptive language, fine motor, adaptive, gross motor, social-emotional], then a formal evaluation is conducted at Child Find office. Depending on the results of the evaluation, a disability may be determined and the child may be eligible for special education and related services. If that occurs, then an Individual Education Program is developed with the parent.
There are three preschool Child Find teams in addition to the ITP Child Find team.
Child Find- ITP Transition Team
1450 Furnace Ave.
Glen Burnie, MD 21060
Child Find North at Marley Glen [Main Child Find office]
200 Scott Avenue
Glen Burnie, Maryland 21060
Child Find South at Central Special
140 Stepney Lane
Edgewater, Maryland 21037
Child Find West at Ridgeway Elementary School
1440 Evergreen Road
Severn, Maryland 21144
Referrals should be made by calling the main Child Find office at 410-766-6662. Parents will be told which Child Find office is the one that serves their community.
Services may be provided in a variety of settings. The goals of the IEP and where the child spends the day are the determining factors in where services are provided. The following is the continuum of options for preschoolers:
Community-Based Services (CBS): Services are provided to children with mild to moderate delays in general education, community-based settings. Such settings can include: private preschool; child care; Head Start; and other site-based locations. The idea is for children with delays to be integrated in typical environments and for services to be provided on-site to them and to their teachers. Special educators and therapists (speech, occupational, physical) come to the school or site and provide intervention. For more information the Community-Based Services lead teacher at 410 222-0922.
Single services (primarily speech): Children with only speech delays or disorders [generally for articulation issues] may be seen at their local elementary school by a school system speech-language pathologist; typically this is done in a small group setting.
Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Classes: There are elementary schools throughout the county that have an ECI class. The goal of an ECI program is to provide intensive instruction in relatively small classes with a special education teacher, teacher assistant and speech language pathologist. Children have moderate and severe delays and need to focus on basic language and cognitive concepts as building blocks for academic success. The program is 2.5 hours per day and children can attend for as little as two half days per week or as many as five half days. Sessions are held in the morning and afternoon. The parents and educators determine the amount of time that is needed to achieve developmental goals through an Individual Educational Program (IEP). Bus transportation is provided to and from school. Many schools with an ECI class also have a pre-K class; these co-located classes provide opportunity for integration of children between ECI and pre-K. For more information contact the Early Childhood Intervention Specialists.
Supplementary services: Referrals may be made to the BEST Program at 410-777-2915 which provides behavioral intervention to children in child care. There are also school system-sponsored classes on language development for parents of children who have expressive language delays.
Friends of Early Childhood Intervention is a new parent group established in 2008 to provide support and networking opportunities among parents of children in the Birth to Five age range. Meetings are held monthly. See Partners for Success Calendar for dates/specific events.
LOCATE: Enhanced Special Needs Services is a free service to assist parents in locating licensed child care programs for children with special needs. Call 1 800 999-0120, TDD: 410 385-1042 Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Wes Campbell, Senior Manager: Birth to Five Programs
Cindy Bouchard, Program Manager Preschool/Early Childhood (ECI) Services
Cheryl Hamlin, Early Childhood Intervention Specialist
Leslie Coleman, Early Childhood Intervention Specialist