What is Early Start?
The Early Start Program is California's response to federal legislation ensuring that early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families are provided in a coordinated, family-centered system of services that are available statewide. http://www.dds.ca.gov/EarlyStart/WhatsES.cfm#2
So, that means: Early Start services are services for children birth to three with a disability. The services are provided for the children and their families in a family-centered way.
Stockton Unified School District’s Walton Early Intervention Center partners with families to provide free educational opportunities in natural environments to eligible children from birth to 36 months of age who have delays in one or more areas of development.
The family is the most important influence in the growth and development of a child. Children learn through play, so as you play with your child we work with you and your family to build on strengths, work on challenges, and create a plan for assisting with your child’s development.
Home visits give us the opportunity to get to know you and your child. In partnership with your family we work to achieve the best outcomes for your child, help you recognize your child’s current abilities and provide specific opportunities to support their development. We do this by helping you discover teachable moments within the context of everyday routines, activities and places.
We support you by providing information, community resources and activities that address your child’s needs and your families’ priorities with the understanding that children grow and these priorities change.
We recognize that parents and families are the first and primary teachers of their children. Through a supportive, caring, family-focused relationship, we are dedicated to strengthen and guide the education of children and to provide a link between families and their community.
You are the parent of your child. You know your child’s likes, dislikes, strengths and abilities. What are your concerns, hopes and priorities?
Learning for a young child happens within the context of their home and family, during daily routines. Our goal is to help families become more aware of learning opportunities as they occur daily.
There are many opportunities for you to meet other families in our program, to share stories and have fun. We recognize that every child and every family is different. Together we will celebrate each new step your child achieves.
The IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan)
The Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is based upon your family’s resources, concerns and priorities. The IFSP is a written record of outcomes and services that will be provided to meet your child’s early start needs. Outcomes are statements defining goals for your child and family. Services describe which staff members or agencies assist your family in achieving these goals.
During home visits, we work together to write a summary of your child’s present levels of development. We do this based on your observations, staff observations and play-based interactions and assessments. Review of the IFSP takes place every six months, or upon request, at which time we will discuss with you next steps and coordinate services based on any changes.
Throughout the IFSP process we will discuss all areas of your child’s development:
- Gross Motor (large muscle movements)
- Fine Motor (small muscle movements)
- Cognitive (thought process, problem solving, learning strategies)
- Receptive Language (understanding)
- Expressive Language (communicating)
- Social/Emotional (ways in which feelings are expressed and acted upon)
- Self-Help (eating, dressing, potty training, sleep)
- Health (education, nutrition, and feeding)
We rely on your observations, as well as our own, to keep informed about your child’s growth and present abilities. When your child is between 27 and 33 months of age a meeting is held to plan for your child’s future educational needs (preschool). This meeting is held to develop a plan to transition your three-year-old into services provided by the school district as needed.
When your child turns three years of age he/she will leave Early Start. A Transition Plan will become part of the IFSP when your child is between 27 months and 33 months of age to ensure a smooth transition from Part C of IDEA (Early Start) to Part B of IDEA (preschool). With your permission, before transitioning from Early Start, your child’s progress will be assessed. The purpose of these assessments is to gather information about your child’s abilities and identify areas which may need further intervention. After the assessments, the team will meet to discuss the results of the assessments and to determine if your child is eligible for special education and/or regional center services.
As a parent or caregiver, you have a great deal of knowledge about your child’s abilities and challenges. To help the team become more familiar with your child be sure to share your observations with the team. As an active member of your child's team your insight is very important. You will be asked to sign releases so the assessment team can obtain information about your child's services, past evaluations and medical records.
Your Regional Center Service Coordinator and /or School District Representative is a valuable resource to you during this transition time. Be sure to contact him/her with any of your questions or concerns. It may also be helpful to talk with other parents who are going through or have completed transition with their child. The Family Resource Network staff can put you in contact with other parents.
Referrals may be made by anyone - parent or professional - by calling us at (209) 933-7315, ext. 7745
Walton Early Intervention Center works in close partnership with Valley Mountain Regional Center, 209-473-0951 and Family Resource Network, 209-472-3674