Education Services for Children with Special Needs

There are several programs available for children with special developmental needs depending on the age of your kinship child when delays or disabilities are identified. Early Start, Individualized Education Plans, and 504 Plans are some of the most common programs available statewide.

Early Start

Early Start is a program that focuses on early intervention for infants and toddlers with disabilities. These services are for children up to 3 years of age and can include such services as home visits, health and nutrition services, occupational and physical therapy, speech and language services, social work services, vision and hearing services, psychological services, family training, case management, and other support. Services are initiated through your local Regional Center or school district after a child is evaluated and assessed to have a qualifying disability. You can find out more about the Early Start program through the California Department of Developmental Services.

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and 504 Plans

If your kinship child is over the age of 3 and has significant learning challenges due to a disability, they may qualify for an IEP or 504 Plan through the local school district. Children may qualify for an IEP or 504 Plan due to learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, or emotional and behavioral problems. These education plans include a structured, team-based process and written documentation to ensure that the educational needs of children with disabilities are met in the least restrictive environment possible. While a child must have a federally recognized disability that qualifies the child for special education services, the 504 Plan is broader and covers a range of disabilities and learning challenges. Visit the U.S. Department of Education for more information on IEPs and 504 Plans.

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