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Preschool (3-5) Education Services
Preschool (3-5) Education Services

THE FEDERAL LAW THAT REQUIRES PRESCHOOL EDUCATION SERVICES
Public Law (PL) 99-457, passed in October 1986, is a federal law that expands services for children from birth to five years old who need special education. PL 99-457 amends and becomes a part of PL 94-142 (IDEA). Title II of PL 99-457 makes grants available to states to extend the protections and services of PL 94-142 to all three-five year old children who need special education. [20 U.S.C. Secs. 1400, 1411-1420 and 1471-1485]

THE PURPOSE OF PRESCHOOL EDUCATION SERVICES
Congress defined the purpose of PL 99-457 as follows:
1) To enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities and to minimize their potential for delay.
2) To reduce educational costs by minimizing the need for special education and related services after handicapped infants and toddlers reach school age.
3) To minimize the likelihood of institutionalization of handicapped individuals,
4) To enhance the capacity of families to meet the special needs of infants and toddlers. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1471]

RESPONSIBILITY FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF SERVICES FOR 3-5 YEAR OLD CHILDREN
Under current law, all school districts have a mandate to provide special education and services for all eligible children with exceptional needs between the ages of 3-5, inclusive.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
To be eligible for special education, a chlid must have one of the following disabling conditions:
1) Autism
2) Deaf-blindness
3) Deafness
4) Hearing impairment
5) Mental retardation
6) Multiple disabilities
7) Orthopedic impairment
8) Other health impairment
9) Serious emotional disturbance
10) Speech or language impairment in one or more of voice, fluency, language and articulation
11) Specific learning disability
12) Visual impairment
13) Traumatic brain injury
[34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.7]

WHO TO CONTACT IF YOU THINK YOUR 3-5 YEAR OLD CHILD NEEDS SERVICES
You should write a letter to your local school administrator to request an assessment for your child. Your district must assess your child. Your school must respond with an assessment plan within 15 days of receipt of your letter. You then have 15 days to respond to or approve the assessment plan. No one can assess your child unless you give consent for the assessment in writing. When standardized tests are condsidered invalid for the child, assessors should use alternative testing methods. Alternatives might include scales, instruments, observations, and interviews as specifien i nthe assessment plan. An IEP must be developed as a result of the assessment within 50 days from the date the district receives your written consent for assessment (not counting days between school sessions or terms). If the request was made 20 days or less before the end of the regular school year, the assessments and IEP must be completed within 30 days after the next school year begins.

INSTRUCTIONAL SERVICES THAT ARE AVAILABLE
Services available to your child must meet the unique need or your child in accordance with PL 94-142. The child's IEP must include these services and a statement of areas of need. The rights and services for 3-5 year old children under PL 94-142 and PL 99-457 are the same as those for children age 5-21. Usually most states require that services be provided individually or in small groups for the 3-5 population. Services may include:
1) Observation and monitoring of the child
2) Activities developed to conform with the child's IEP and to enhance the child's development
3) Consultation with family, preschool teachers and other service providers
4) Assistance to parents in coordinating services
5) Opportunities for the child to develop play and pre-academic skills
6) Access to developmentally appropriate equipment and specialized materials.

RELATED SERVICES FOR YOUR 3-5 YEAR OLD CHILD
Your child is entitled to all the related services provided by PL 94-142. Related services include parent counseling and training to help you understand your child's special needs and development.

LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT PROVISIONS
OSEP has stated that the IDEA requirements regarding the education of children in the LRE apply to preschool children with disabilities who have an IEP and are receiving a FAPE under the provisions of the IDEA. [34 C.F.R. Sec.300.550-300.556]

WAITING LISTS AND DELAY IN SERVICES
Under federal law, waiting lists are not allowed. The IEP must be implemented as soon as possible following the IEP meeting. This means immediately following except when IEP meetings occur during a vacation period or if circumstances require a short delay (to work out transportation for exapmle). While there can be no undue delay in pforiding special education and related services, the IEP may specify projected dates to begin services. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.342 and comment, and Sec. 300.346(d), and Part 300, App. C, No. 4]

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