Families as Allies is doing a five-month-long series looking at the Procedural Safeguards. The Safeguards describe your rights if you think your child might need special education services or if your child is already being evaluated for or receiving those services. This month our focus is evaluation, including a webinar on our resource page.
Your child’s school district (even if your child is not enrolled in a district school) is obligated to look for children between the ages of 3 and 21 and ask their families about testing them if those children might have disabilities that affect their learning. If your child is between three and 21 and you think that your child might have a disability that affects their learning, you can write a letter to your district’s child find coordinator to request an evaluation. Putting your request in writing, rather than just asking, creates a record of your request. The child find coordinator’s whole job is to make sure children who might have disabilities get evaluated.
Special education services for children younger than three years old go through the First Steps Early Intervention Program at the Mississippi State Department of Health. According to First Steps: “Anyone with knowledge of the infant or toddler may make a referral to the First Steps Early Intervention Program, including parents, health care providers, and child care providers. Health care providers serving infants and toddlers ages birth to three years of age are required by federal regulations and state policies to complete a referral within seven days of determining an infant or toddler is potentially in need of early intervention services.”
Referrals can be made by faxing this form to (601)-576-7540 or by mailing it to: Mississippi State Department of Health Early Intervention, O-204 P.O. Box 1700 Jackson, MS 39215-1700. After the referral is made, a Service Coordinator will contact the family about screening and evaluation for the child if that is what the family wants. Families whose children are involved in Early Intervention have rights that are described in these Procedural Safeguards for Families of Young Children from the First Steps Early Intervention Program.
This article from Understood.org explains more about evaluating young children for special education. We are happy to provide you with additional support if you think your young child might need to be evaluated for special education services. You can call us at 601-355-0915 or email us at email@example.com. The Mississippi Parent Training and Information Center (MS PTI) can assist you as well. The MS PTI is presenting a webinar, IDEA Part C: Early Intervention Written State Complaints A Guide for Families of Infants and Toddlers (Birth through Age 2) this Thursday, March 25 at noon.