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Early Childhood ServicesPreschool

Preschool Programs (3-5 years old)

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The SELPA assures that 3-4-5 year olds with disabilities not yet in kindergarten have access to Special Education services, as per EC 56440.  At this age, children qualify for services under the same categories as for K-12.  Click here for a copy of Special Education Eligibility Guidelines.  Eligibility is established via assessment conducted by the school district team, which may include several professionals and parent input.  The decision about whether or not a child is eligible for special education services is made by the IEP team, including parents, based on the assessment results.


By participating in the SELPA, each local school district has access to a full range of Special Education programs and services, regardless of size.  Click here for a copy of the Intra-SELPA chart for preschoolers, which shows which district provides which services, at no cost to families.  Services are always determined by the IEP team process.  See "Ventura County Office of Education Preschool Referral Handbook" below for information about referrals to VCOE's program.  


Primary Special Education services which may be provided to preschoolers are:

  1. Individual and Small Group (ISG) services provided in a preschool setting
  2. Intensive Individualized Instruction (III), which is extra adult support for all or part of the day in a preschool setting
  3. Language and Speech services provided individually, in small groups, or as a consultation to the preschool teacher


In addition to the Primary Special Education services, an IEP team may also decide a child needs a Related Service, which are services to assist the child in benefiting from their Special Education program.  Related Services may include (but are not limited to):

  1. Occupational Therapy – To assist child in accessing the activities of the preschool environment
  2. Physical Therapy – To provide access and safety to the preschool program
  3. Health and Nursing Services
  4. Transportation
  5. Vision Services (for blind/low vision)
  6. Orientation and Mobility (for students with visual impairments)
  7. Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services
  8. Physical and Health Impairments Services  

* Note:  Adapted PE is not provided to preschoolers, as there is no “regular P.E.” program required by law for preschool.


All of the above might be provided in the context of a regular preschool (such as Head Start or Community Preschool), in a Special Education preschool taught by a credentialed Special Education teacher, or in a therapy room or home/community setting. As Special Education services are school-based services, the goal is always to increase the child’s readiness or ability to participate and learn in school.  This is different than the services provided in the Early Start Program (0-3) as those services are focused on the child’s functioning within the family context, and are often more therapeutic in nature.

All children with an IEP who are 3-4-5 years old and not in preschool participate in the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) access, which is a statewide assessment that measures child development, and is given to all preschoolers with disabilities in California.  The purpose of this assessment is to measure the efficacy of the overall program. The DRDP access is required for all students with IEPs as of Fall 2010.

The State of California has adopted Preschool Learning Foundations, which are considered to be the core learnings necessary for any preschool program.  The Special Education preschools in the Ventura County SELPA all use the Learning Foundations as the core for their instructional programs. 

In addition, the VC SELPA has a Preschool to Kindergarten Transition Assessment Instrument available for assessing progress on the Preschool Learning Foundations and Kindergarten Standards. This tool is available at no cost to preschool staff in Ventura County SELPA by emailing Sarah at 
sfontenot@vcoe.org and available to out of SELPA staff for $98.00.  See "Publications A-Z" for the price list and ordering information. 

For preschoolers found eligible for services with a diagnosis of autism (or “autistic-like”) the Regional Center and the schools hope to work together to establish services that are complementary in addressing the child’s needs.  See our brochures below, A Family Fact Sheet:  Sorting Through Who Does What, Schools or Regional Center? and Autism... A Confusing Diagnosis, for an explanation of which agency does.

For children with a suspected diagnosis or actual diagnosis of Apraxia of Speech, the SELPA has a booklet which contains facts about this disability and possible intervention approaches.  For a copy of "What is Apraxia of Speech? A Guide for Parents of 3-5 Year Olds", click here. (English)   (Spanish).

Children with a language other than English on questions #1-3 on the Home Language Survey will be considered an "EL" for preschool, and will have at least one English Language Development goal on the IEP. They will be reassessed for language development at the time of reentry into kindergarten. See informational sheetThe Preschool English Language Survey (PELS) (below) is used to determine EL level in preschool, as well as language of assessment for initial eligibility.

For more information on the transition from Early Start services to school district Special Education preschool services, see our publication What’s Next After Early Start?  (Spanish)


ASQ Flowchart

            Autism...A Confusing Diagnosis

      Desired Results Development Program (DRDP)

FAQ About Using the DRDP access with Infants and Toddlers

Parent Input for DRDP access Rating Booklet

DRDP Timeline

Family Fact Sheet About Regional Center and Schools

Preschool English Language Survey

Preschool Referral Contacts

Ventura County SELPA Preschool to Kindergarten Transition Assessment - Available at no cost to staff within VC SELPA only.  For outside staff, see "Publications A-Z" price list.

Reassessment Prior to Transition to Kindergarten   

    Parent Memo  English  Spanish

Head Start MOU 2012

Special Educaltion Preschool Newzette
Summer 2014

Ventura County Office of Education Preschool Referral Handbook

Three Year Old Transition Checklist

Walking the Path Together Conference Information
Save the Date Eng/Spn

Web-Based Resources

Lessons and activities for children with autism- (requires a membership fee)

California Map to Inclusive Child Care

Videos for working with young children with autism-

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