EIP Transition Guidance - Purpose And Background

This memorandum provides guidance on the transition of children from the Early Intervention Program (EIP) to preschool special education programs and services, other state service delivery systems, or other early childhood services available to support children and their families. To ensure the transition process is successful for families, it is important that parents and professionals understand the requirements for transition and the services available in their communities for young children with, and without, disabilities.

The memorandum:

  • briefly describes the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and New York State's Administration of IDEA, including the EIP under Article 25 of the Public Health Law and preschool special education programs and services under Section 4410 of the Education Law;
  • describes the components of the transition process for children transitioning from the Early Intervention Program to preschool special education programs and services, including State and federal requirements;
  • identifies and describes the components of the transition process for children whose developmental status has improved significantly and who are not eligible for preschool special education programs and services and may – or may not need other early childhood services;
  • describes other state service delivery systems that are available to support children with disabilities and their families;
  • includes important information about resources available to help families, providers, and public officials with the transition process; and,
  • provides answers to questions often asked by parents, providers, Early Intervention Officials, and school district personnel about the transition process.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

IDEA is the federal law that authorizes both the EIP and preschool special education programs and services. Requirements for the EIP are under Part C, and preschool special education programs and services are under Part B of IDEA. IDEA requires states to designate a lead agency responsible for administration and oversight of the EIP and requires the state education agency to oversee Part B special education services for children ages three through twenty-one years.

The Part C EIP is optional to states. States participating in the EIP, including New York, must provide for a comprehensive, statewide, interagency, multidisciplinary early intervention system for eligible infants and toddlers with special needs and their families.

Under Part B of IDEA, all states must provide for a free appropriate public education (FAPE)1 for children with disabilities ages three through twenty-one years. Parts C and B of IDEA have specific requirements for the transition of children from the EIP to preschool special education programs and services. In addition, Part C requires that all children exiting the EIP have a transition plan to assist them and their families in transitioning from EIP services to other early childhood services as appropriate.

It is also important to note that, unlike general education for children and youth which is mandatory beginning at age five years, participation in both the Early Intervention Program and preschool special education programs and services is voluntary to families.

New York State's Administration of IDEA

Early Intervention Program

In New York State, the lead agency for the Early Intervention Program (EIP) is the Department of Health (NYSDOH). As lead agency, NYSDOH is responsible for the general administration of the EIP. In addition, Public Health Law requires the chief elected official of each municipality to designate an Early Intervention Official (EIO)2 who is responsible for the local administration of the EIP. The EIO is responsible for ensuring that children ages birth through two years who are at risk for or have a suspected disability are identified and referred to the EIP. Primary referral sources, including health care providers, social service providers, child care providers, providers of EIP services, and a range of professionals involved in caring for young children, are required to refer children at risk for or suspected of having a disability to the EIP, unless the parent objects to a referral. For children at risk, the EIP coordinates screening and tracking to ensure that children are referred for EIP services if they experience developmental delay or disability.

For children with a suspected developmental delay or disability, the EIO must designate an initial service coordinator to assist the family in obtaining an evaluation for their child. The EIO is also responsible for ensuring an individualized family service plan (IFSP) is developed for all children who are evaluated and found eligible for EIP services, and services included in the IFSP are provided. Services provided under the EIP are designed to meet the developmental needs of children and the needs of families related to enhancing their children's development. Eligible children and their families select an ongoing service coordinator and receive the services included in their IFSPs. There are no out-of-pocket costs to families for participation in, or services provided by, the EIP.

Preschool Special Education Program and Services

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) administers, through local school districts, preschool special education programs and services for preschool students with disabilities, ages 3 to 5 years of age. The board of education (BOE) or trustees of each school district are required, by regulation (Part 200.2(a)), to identify all students with disabilities who reside in the school district and establish a register of children who are entitled to attend public schools in the district or to attend a preschool program during the next school year. In addition, various people can refer a child to the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), such as the parent, doctor, judicial officer, designated person in a public agency, or someone from an Early Childhood Direction Center, an approved preschool program or the EIP. There are specific requirements for referral of children from the EIP to the CPSE, which will be discussed in detail in this guidance memorandum.

Individual child evaluations to determine eligibility are conducted, and the CPSE, including the parent(s) of the child, develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for eligible children, outlining the special education programs and services to address the child's needs.

It is important for families to understand the differences between the EIP and preschool special education. The EIP:

  • focuses on enhancing the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities, and minimizing their potential for developmental delay;
  • minimizes the need for special education services when children reach school age; and,
  • enhances the capacity of families to meet the special needs of their infants and toddlers with disabilities.

The EIP includes a requirement to provide a service coordinator to each family and to ensure that services are provided year round.

Preschool special education focuses on children's educational needs, including:

  • ensuring access to the general curriculum for all children; and,
  • strengthening the role of parents and ensuring families have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home.

Appendix A, "Comparison of Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education" highlights the key elements of each program.

1Free appropriate public education is defined in IDEA as "special education and related services that: (a) have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction and without charge; (b) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (c) include an appropriate preschool, elementary, or secondary school education in the involved State; and, (d) are provided in conformity with the individual education program that meets the requirements of §300.340 - 300.350 34 CFR Parts 300 and 303- §300.13.
2Throughout this document, the term "EIO" will be used to reference both Early Intervention Officials and their designees.