From EI to school: What happens next?

If your child has reached their goals from the IFSP and is back on track, you may not need services.

Your EI coordinator can help you to find support outside of EI:

  • Some fun activities for your child to join, like art classes, sports, play groups, or story times

  • Child care or a preschool that fits your child's needs

  • Other informal supports

If your child still needs services, you will connect with your local school system.

The school system serves most kids when they start kindergarten at age 5. But if your child has special needs, they may qualify for special education services at age 3.

These can include:

  • Services from specialists like you have with EI: Speech therapy, OT, PT, etc.

  • Special education preschool (this is free if your child qualifies)

Image of an exclamation markbeside the text 'One big difference between EI and Special Education is that EI offers services to the whole family. Special Education is only for the child.  If you are getting marriage counseling or going to parent or sibling groups, ask your coordinator how you can find these services after transition.'

Click the box below to compare EI with school-based special education:

EI and Special Education are similar in many ways, although some of the terms are different.

The main difference is that EI serves the whole family and includes supports for parents and siblings, while special education only serves the child.

But in both systems, the parents have a say in the process, and work as part of a team.

Image of a chart showing 'What are the differences between EI and Special Education?' EI is for children ages 0-3, and special education is for children ages 3-22. EI is run by the MA Department of Public Health. Special education is run by the MA Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). For questions about EI, you will contact your Service Coordinator. For questions about special education, you will contact your special education liaison. The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is the document you will write for EI services. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the plan you will write for special education services. EI services are for a child with a developmental delay AND their family, including parents and siblings. Special education services are just for the child with a disability or delay. The IFSP for EI services is reviewed every 6 months. The IEP for special education services is reviewed every year. EI re-evaluation happens every year. Special education re-evaluation happens every 3 years.

Sources: MA DPH, MA DESE