- NC Education Lawyer
Can Pre-Schoolers Receive Special Education Services?
As a parent of a preschool child with special needs, you want to ensure that your child receives the best education possible. But navigating the world of special education services can be overwhelming. This blog post will provide you with some helpful tips on how to get the special education services your preschool student needs and deserves.
Start Early: The process of getting special education services for your preschool student can take some time, so it’s important to start as early as you can. Usually, you can start the process when the child is two and a half years old. You can begin by contacting your local school district or county office of education to request an evaluation of your child’s needs. The evaluation, which is free of charge, will help determine if your child is eligible for services. It is important to know that services likely will not start until after the student's third birthday.
Be Prepared: Before the evaluation, be sure to gather any and all medical records, evaluations, or assessments that have been done previously. You may also want to consider writing down your observations about your child’s behavior and any concerns you have about their development. This information can be helpful for the evaluators to gain a better understanding of your child’s needs.
Attend Meetings: Once your child has been evaluated and deemed eligible for special education services, you will be invited to an individualized Education Program ("IEP") meeting. This meeting will be attended by you, your child’s teacher, the school’s special education teacher, and any other relevant service providers. The purpose of the meeting is to create a plan for your child’s education and outline the services they will receive. Be sure to attend the meeting and advocate for your child’s needs.
Understand Your Child’s Rights: Your child has the right to a free appropriate public education ("FAPE") and should receive services that are tailored to their individual needs. You also have the right to request changes to your child’s IEP if you feel that their needs are not being met. Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations governing special education services in your area so you can be an effective advocate for your child.
Stay Involved: Throughout your child’s education, it’s important to stay involved and continue advocating for their needs. Attend parent-teacher conferences, stay in communication with your child’s teacher and service providers, and make sure your child is receiving the services outlined in their IEP. Don’t hesitate to speak up if you have concerns or feel that changes need to be made.
Getting special education services for your preschool student can be a challenging process, but by starting early, being prepared, attending meetings, understanding your child’s rights, and staying involved, you can help ensure that your child receives the education they deserve. Remember that you are your child’s best advocate and never hesitate to speak up or ask for help when needed. With your dedication and support, your child can thrive and reach their full potential.