I believe my child needs special education services
Where do I begin?
Any individual that believes they know a child that might require special education intervention may call the Search and Serve office or their local school district office and talk with someone about their concerns. Programs and services from birth until age 21 are available to a child that has a disability. Behaviors that may indicate that this process should begin include:
- Difficulty staying on task
- Persistent difficulty in following direction
- Frequent outbursts for no apparent reason
- Difficulty in understanding what is read
- Difficulty expressing ideas in spoken or written form
- Difficulty solving math problems
- Experiencing complex medical problems
- Inability to talk as well as children of the same age
- Demonstrating little interest in toys or stories for children of that age
- Demonstrating puzzling behaviors
- Inability to play with other children
Every call results in a personal contact. The Search and Serve office will screen each contact and make a referral to the most appropriate source of evaluation and services for the child. Requests for screening and referrals are made to appropriate schools, agencies, and other resources that will assist the child to receive an assessment and recommendations.The referral could be directed to a speech pathologist, the local school district, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office or other educational and community resources. If needed, special education programs and services will also be recommended for the child. There are many programs and services that are available to children that may have a disability and require specialized services to reach the desired outcomes. Search and Serve is an ongoing, cooperative effort that involves state and local agencies of the Department of Mental Health, Department of Rehabilitation , Kern County Public Health, and Human Services, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, all public and non-public schools, Kern Regional Center and community agencies that provide services to children. A vital part of the Search and Serve effort is the assistance from the community members, state and local organizations, business firms, social and civic groups, parents, and students themselves. There are no fees and there is no cost to the parents at any time for services that are provided to a student in special education.
Parents may also begin to ask questions and develop a better understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Public Law 102-119. This law guarantees a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities. The tips and suggestions on the following pages will help you obtain special education and related services for your child.
You may also want to talk to parents of children who are already receiving special education services. Local parent organizations can assist you. Please visit our Community Partners page for contact information.
What is the first step toward obtaining special education services?
The first step is to arrange for your child to receive an evaluation. The term “evaluation” refers to the total process of gathering and using information to determine whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services that the child needs. The public schools are required to conduct this evaluation of your child at no cost to you.
Are services available to very young children?
If your young child, or a young child you know, was born with a condition requiring special care, he or she may need special services. Services to very young children are also covered under the IDEA. Through Part H, the Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, states may make early intervention services available to eligible infants and toddlers (birth through two years). Under the IDEA, states must provide special education and related services to eligible preschool children (ages 3-5). Services for these young children are provided in different ways than are services for school-aged children.
Kern Early Start Program is a multi-agency collaborative program designed to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers from birth until age three. Infants and toddlers should be referred if they have:
- Problems due to premature birth
- Significant learning or muscle tone problems
- Identified conditions such as Down’s Syndrome or cerebral palsy
- Been seriously ill
- Developmental delays in one or more areas such as walking or talking
- Born to parents needing assistance due to their own special needs
The Kern Early Start Program provides many services and is designed to simplify the process of obtaining help by providing a one step referral and identification process. Early Start will work with the infant and toddler and their family to increase the infant’s skills and development. This may be done through direct intervention, support and consultation or assistance in accessing other services and agencies in the community.