Posted in DHHS / OFCS

Changes to Child Development Services (CDS) System are Ahead

Significant changes to the Child Development Services (CDS) System are ahead with adoption of LD 1870.

LD 1870 An Act To Reorganize the Provision of Services for Children with Disabilities from Birth to 5 Years of Age.

The proposed changes means a shifting of responsibility for early intervention services for 3 – under 6 year olds (Part B) to our public schools. There will also be impact to Part C – birth to under 3 years old.

Points (pulled from Summary of LD 1870):

The 15-member commission appointed by the Department of Education has made final recommendations on the original proposed plan. Beliefs directing recommended changes:

  • children with disabilities are best served by their local communities
  • children do better when there are fewer transition points
  • efficiencies that can be achieved by eliminating duplicative state functions and maximizing existing services and facilities at the local level

2) Moves the responsibility for providing services to children from birth to under 3 years of age (Part C) to the Department of Education’s office of special services.

3) Moves responsibility for providing special education and related services for children who are at least 3 years of age and under 6 years of age from the Child Development Services (CDS) System to the school administrative units of residence of the children.

Full responsibility for costs will be shared by state funds, federal funds, the MaineCare program and private insurers. 

For complete details on all meetings and final recommendations: http://www.maine.gov/doe/cds/guidance/index.html.

Public input can be sent to the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, just reference LD 1870. A public hearing is to be scheduled.

Posted in DHHS / OFCS, ECE Information

Transitioning from Part C to Part B

How Does the Transition from Part C to B Work?

Transition planning begins when the child turns 2, intensifying during the last 6 months before the child’s third birthday.

Transition activities include:

  • Writing a transition plan as part of the child’s IFSP
  • Holding a transition conference at least 90 days before the 3rd birthday
  • Family and child visiting new educational settings, if necessary. Families can support their child by demonstrating positive attitude toward the new educational setting, ensuring continuity in curriculum and a child’s expected progress, and gathering information about the transition process.

Every child’s IFSP is required to have a transition plan, which includes:

  • specific transition needs
  • methods of evaluation and assessment
  • timelines
  • date of child’s 3rd birthday
  • date of transition conference
  • date the child exited the early intervention program
  • anticipated date of transition
  • person responsible for transition plan
  • date transition plan was initiated
  • date transition plan is to be completed

Transition Conference

The transition conference must be convened at least 90 days before the anticipated date of transition, but no later than 90 days before the child’s 3rd birthday. Families, service providers from the early intervention system, representatives of the local educational setting and any other appropriate community organizations should be invited to the conference.

Conference tasks include:

  1. reviewing current educational program’s options from the child’s 3rd birthday through the remainder of the school year
  2. supporting family’s decision as to the location of the child’s educational placement and time of transition
  3. scheduling an IEP meeting at least 90 days before the first day services are to be provided, if the child is transitioning to a new educational setting
  4. transferring, with parental consent, records, including evaluations, assessments and current IFSP to new educational setting
  5. identifying actions that need to be completed before the child moves into new service setting (enrollment, immunizations, transportation issues, medical needs, etc.)
  6. deciding how to evaluate whether the transition process was smooth and effective
  7. deciding if a post transition follow up, including service coordination and consultation with new staff is needed.

For those moving to a new educational setting, transition activities provide the opportunities for families and children to be better acquainted with new staff, policies, procedures and philosophy.

Posted in DHHS / OFCS, ECE Information

CDS: Part B (ages 3 – 5)

Special Education services under Part B include: evaluations, development of individualized education plan, special instruction, identifications/eligibility, behavior consultation, and physical/speech and occupational therapies.

What is the referral and evaluation process like for Part B?

  • For children age 3 to school age 5, CDS has 45 days from the date it receives signed permission from the parent/guardian to: complete the initial evaluations; meet with parents to determine eligibility; and develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
  • Parental consent is not required for referral, but is required for screening, evaluations and services.
  • Part B evaluations must include formal assessment, parent input and an observation of the child with their typically developing peers in an educational setting whenever possible.
  • By law, the evaluation should take many factors into account and be culturally sensitive.

Eligibility for Part B services?

Eligibility for CDS services becomes more involved if the child is 3 or older. There are 3 main questions that must all be answered “yes” for the child to be eligible for special education and related services:

  1. Does the child meet eligibility based on the listed categories of disability or developmental delay?

14 different categories of disability: autism, deafness, developmental delay (3-5 or kindergarten), emotional disturbances, hearing impairment, mental retardation, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, multiple disabilities, speech and language problems, specific learning disability, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment including blindness.

2. Does the disability or developmental delay have an adverse effect on educational performance?

3.  Does the child need special education and related services to progress in the general school curriculum or early education with typically developing peers?

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, reviews the evaluation report to determine if the child meets the criteria and if so, what services are most appropriate.

All children determined eligible will be provided an appropriate education and related services at no cost to the family.

Type of Service plan?

For children age 3 and older an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed. The IEP identifies the child’s strength and needs; parental/guardian concerns about the child; and results of evaluations on the academic developmental functioning of the child. The IEP includes measurable academic functional goals which must be aligned with Maine’s Early Learning Developmental Standards. The IEP includes opportunities for services and education to be provided in the least restrictive environment.

Our last post in this series on CDS will cover Transitioning from Part C to Part B.

Posted in DHHS / OFCS, ECE Information

CDS: Part C Birth thru 2

What is Early Intervention PART C?

  • Children birth to age 3 are served under Part C.
  • Focus is on supporting the family, as well as the child.
  • Early intervention (EI) refers to services available to assist infants and toddlers who have Developmental Delay. Delayed development can be in the domains of social/emotional, cognitive, adaptive, motor, or language. Services include: Complete Screenings, Evaluations, Development of Individualized Plan, Special Instruction, Identifications/eligibility, IFSP, behavior consultation, social/emotional intervention and services, health services, physical/speech/occupational therapies, and assistance to parents to gain access to other supports.
  • Early intervention services supports the child and the child’s family within the natural environment to support the child’s participation in everyday routines and activities. Part C of the Individual’s with Disabilities Act says that to the maximum extent appropriate, early intervention services must be provided in the natural environments, including home and community settings in which children without disabilities participate.
  • Some Early Intervention Services are made at no cost, while other services may be on a sliding scale.

Eligibility for Part C?

  • To be eligible for services, a child from birth to 3 needs to show Developmental Delay (DD) or be diagnosed with a condition that has a high probability of resulting in a DD (such as low birth weight, deafness, blindness, mental retardation, etc.).
  • Children under age 3 are not required to be classified by their disability to be eligible for services.
  • All children determined eligible for EI by the IFSP team receive services regardless of their family’s income or insurance.

What is the referral and evaluation process like for Part C?

  • A referral is a request that a child may be evaluated to see if services might be appropriate.
  • Referrals are based on a physical or developmental concern about the child.
  • Referrals can be made by parents, doctors, preschool, public health, and any other human service agencies.

When CDS receives a referral they have 45 days to complete the evaluations to determine whether a child is eligible, and develop the Individual Family Service Plan.

The evaluation of a child aged birth- 2 must include a review of the child’s current health status and child’s present level of functioning in their cognitive, motor, physical/social, language and adaptive skills abilities. In addition with the parent/guardian consent a family assessment will be performed.

Once a determination of eligibility for services is made, a plan is developed by the team. Plans differ, depending on age of the child.

Type of Service plan?

An Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed identifying the strengths and needs of the child and the family. An IFSP includes parent/guardian input on the child’s strengths and needs; documented present level of performance; projected beginning, length, duration and frequency of identified services and their measurable goals/objectives; services required to meet established goals; and the opportunities for services and education to be provided in a child’s natural environment.

Early Intervention Services (EIS) can begin once the IFSP is written and approved by the parent/guardian.

CDS encourages a coaching model that allows professionals to assist families and other caregivers to facilitate the child’s development in their daily activities and routines.

CDS provides ongoing case management and monitors the IFSP, which must be reviewed every 6 months.

Our next post in this series on CDS will cover Part B (3 – 5).

Posted in DHHS / OFCS, ECE Information

What is “Child Find”?

How many of you have heard of “Child Find”?

Child Find” is an important part of Early Invention. The simple explanation is: “Child Find” is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to continuously search for and evaluate children who may have a disability.

The primary purpose of IDEA is to ensure that all children with a disability, birth through age 21, receive free appropriate education, including special education and related services that meet their unique needs preparing them for further education, employment and independent living.

Another purpose is to help states implement a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated multi-disciplinary system of Early Intervention services for young children with disabilities.

As early childhood educators, we know that the earlier the intervention the better for the child. What we might not know is the process regarding referrals, evaluations and services.

How is Child Find Implemented?

Each state had to devise a method/system to determine which children are receiving the needed special education services and which are not. In Maine, this starts with identifying children who may need services and completing evaluations at no cost to families.

Public awareness and professional training are critical for successful Child Find programs. Part of the work includes reaching families through public notices and direct outreach to the early childhood educators, especially those who are working with infants and toddlers. The effort might include door-to-door surveys, brochure mailings, public education programs, public forums, physician referrals, as well as, direct contact with child care provider networks.

Melinda Corey, M.Ed., Early Intervention Program Manager, PEDS Child Development Services reached out to FCCAM as part of their effort to reach early childhood educators working directly with children and their families.

FCCAM agrees that it’s important for all providers to have an understanding of how CDS, for that reason we have gathered the information we are sharing through this series of postings on CDS. We are also working on additional training to become available in the future.

As early childhood educators, an important part of our work is supporting children and their families. This means developing an open, honest channel of communication. Even with strong communication, we know discussing the need for evaluation around concerns in regards to a child’s development is a delicate situation. At the same time, we need to understand and accept what an important part of our job this is. In discussions with parents/guardians, it is important to remind them this free evaluation CDS provides can ultimately bring peace of mind – the evaluation team might conclude that the child does not have a disability, or if he or she does, that the needed help is readily available. Remind them of the importance of early intervention. Together we are working to provide the best for their child.

Regardless of how parents/guardians may respond to the discussion, it’s important to also remember we need to act in the best interest of the child. Child Find policies provide direction. For support resources and links go to the Maine DOE Child Development Services page. You will find the Child Find Intake Form there.

Once notified by CDS of an outside referral, parents/guardians have the legal right to refuse evaluation and services.

Our next post in this series on CDS will cover Part C (Birth – 2).

Posted in DHHS / OFCS, ECE Information

What is Child Development Services (CDS)?

There always seems to be questions about Child Development Services (CDS). What are the different Parts? What is the process? What is the timeline? What is covered?………..

Experiencing these questions first hand, as providers ourselves, FCCAM has gathered information we will be providing through a series of posts on CDS. These informational posts should support us as providers in supporting the children in care and their families that are looking at the need for early intervention.

What is CDS?

  • Child Development Services (CDS) is a division of the Maine Department of Education. CDS consists of nine regional sites and a state office. The state office maintains a central data management system, system-wide policies and procedures, and provides centralized fiscal services for regional CDS sites.
  • Regional CDS sites provide case management and direct instruction for families with children from birth through age five who have developmental delays or disabilities.
  • Each regional site conducts Child Find, which is the process of identifying children with disabilities. Screenings and evaluations are provided in order to identify children who are eligible for services.
  • Regional CDS sites arrange for local services that include early intervention and special education and related services.
  • For families with children birth – 2, under Part C, they will each be matched with a Primary Service Provider (PSP) who works together with parents and caregivers to come up with strategies that can be built into the child’s everyday life.
  • Our services are voluntary.

Below is part of a typical script for Part C, that CDS uses to explain their services to parents or childcare provider;

“Getting started with our services consists of 2 visits.  During our first visit, we will complete intake paperwork and an eligibility evaluation that will take 1-2 hours. When the evaluation is over, we will give a brief review about the evaluation results. A report will be sent that will officially say whether or not your child is eligible. If your child is not eligible for services, we won’t need the next visit, though we can still meet if you want to review the report with us in person. If your child is determined eligible for Early Intervention, we will come out for the second visit which will be a Routines-Based Interview and a team meeting to develop a plan for services. This meeting takes about 2 hours and will include an in depth conversation with you about your everyday activities. This will help us develop of a list of things you want to work on, and then we will use this information to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan for your child and family.”

Here’s a direct link to the Department of Education page that provides information for online referrals.

The first important part of the time line providers need to be aware of is: Within three business days of receiving a referral contact with parent/guardian is to be made by CDS.

Contact will be by a representative of the regional CDS site serving the town in which the referred child resides. The purpose of this contact is to gather more information and discuss the concerns, provide information about CDS services and determine the family’s interest in scheduling any screenings or evaluations to determine if the child is eligible for services.

If parents decide to proceed it will be under 1 of 2 Parts, determined by the child’s age. Part B is 3 – 5. Part C is Birth – 2.

Regional Sites: CDS regional sites serving the various geographical regions of Maine. Not sure of which regional site provides services? You can search by town or call the State IEU at 877-770-8883.

Our next post in this series on CDS will cover “Child Find”.