Transition from Early Intervention to School-based services

It's great that your child is already getting help through Early Intervention!

This makes it easier to go through the process of getting special services from the school system.

Here's why:

  • The process of creating an educational program or plan (an IEP) is very similar to what you did with Early Intervention and creating your IFSP.

  • Your Family Service Coordinator (FSC) will help you with the transition to the school-based services.

  • If your child qualified for Early Intervention, they will be likely to qualify for an IEP or 504 plan with the school system (although the school will have to do their own evaluation).

Here's what you can do:

  • Call your FSC and ask about transition.

  • Make sure they help you to create a Transition Plan. It's part of the IFSP.

  • See our Early Intervention Guide to learn more about transition.

Click on the boxes below for more information:

If your child still needs services at age 3, the public school system will step in and help you in the same way Early Intervention did.

You will go through a similar process of getting an evaluation and writing a service plan.

Here's what you will do: Have a transition planning conference with your family service coordinator. Fill out the transition plan in your IFSP. Look into local programs and activities that your child may like. Create a transition packet (or binder) this has all the records and other information you'll need. Have another evaluation, if needed, to see if your child still qualifies for services.

What to know about timing:

  • Start thinking about transition as soon as your child starts EI. But when your child is 2, make sure you have talked about this with your service coordinator.

  • You can start planning formally as early as 9 months before your child's 3rd birthday.

  • You must have a conference with your service coordinator at least 3 months before 3rd birthday.

  • EI services will stop on your child's 3rd birthday, and the new services can start.

What to know about qualifying through the school system:

  • A child who has been in EI does not automatically qualify for services through the school system.

  • While EI serves children with developmental delays, a child must have a disability to qualify through the school system.

  • Your child will have a different evaluation to see if they qualify.

If your child will keep getting services through the school system:

  1. Connect with your local school system's special education department.

  2. Have a Team Meeting with EI and the school system.

  3. Create a new plan with the school system. This is like an IFSP, but is called an IEP.

Source: MA DOE

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.

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

Sources: MA DPH, MA DESE