Accessing Inclusive Programming

Early Start Program, 0-2 Years Old

Preschool Programs, 3-5 Years Old



Early Start Program, 0-2 Years Old 

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:  Conejo Valley Unified School District, Oxnard School District, Simi Valley Unified School District, and Ventura 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.

For additional information on programming for children birth - 2 years old, visit VC SELPA

Preschool Programs, 3-5 Years Old

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
4. Transportation
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.

For more information on programming for preschool-age children, visit VC SELPA