Early Start

California Early Start is a federally funded program through Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The program is designed to ensure that eligible infants and toddlers and their families receive evaluation and assessment of their current functioning and coordinated services early enough to make a difference in development.

The Early Start Program brings together resources and services to help infants and toddlers grow and learn and provides support to families to enhance their child’s development. Early intervention services are planned and delivered to help prevent or lessen the need for special services later in the child’s life. The goal is to help answer questions and concerns about each child’s development and to assure that infants and toddlers are off to the best possible start.

Early intervention involves the prompt identification of delays and risk factors and the provision of assistance to eliminate or minimize problems resulting from them. Early intervention services are designed to meet the developmental needs of each eligible infant or toddler and the needs of the family related to the infant’s or toddler’s development.

There are a wide range of services available. Services include; medical services for diagnosis and evaluation; physical, occupational, and speech therapy services; special instruction provided by infant education teachers to promote development and social services to provide family support, counseling and home visits.

The San Diego Regional Center is responsible for providing service coordination, coordinating and arranging for evaluations to determine eligibility, and developing the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). The Regional Center service coordinator is also responsible for monitoring services and providing periodic review of the IFSP.

An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a family focused, outcome oriented plan built upon a family’s natural supports. It is written to address the infant’s or toddler’s developmental needs, family concerns and the needs of the family related to meeting the developmental needs of the child.

Early Start Resources:

1) Early Start Transition: A Guide for Parents – English and Spanish

2) Special Education for Preschoolers: A Guide for Parents – English and Spanish