RK asked several good questions about how the Early Education/Preschool system works where we live. Too many for me to squeeze into her comment sections so I am listing the answers here. I'm lazy like that. ;)
1. Some of you have mentioned looking for a preschool for your child who is about to turn 3. How does your city or district or region handle this? Do they assign a school based on your home location or do you have choices? For you that have kids in the 3-6 range, how often do they attend school and how have you felt about it?
In our city, it is generally assumed that your 3 yr old will go to the Early Education Center for preschool. You can request your child go to a different preschool if you want, but the EEC is (in my opinion) the best preschool in the area. All the teachers have master degrees in education, the student to adult ratio is very low, class size is small, the facility is nice and well-maintained, and the children receive all their therapy sessions there during the school day. You can choose how long/often your child attends, but they do make recommendations based on your child's needs.
Sean has been going M-F for the morning session since he turned 3. I am going to ask about having him go 2 full days a week next year to help him get used to going longer days. Our kindergarten is all day 5 days a week and I worry that those long days are going to be hard on him. He really wipes out by noon at preschool. Sean has one more year at EEC before kindergarten because of his Fall birth date.
2. Does your EI service provide equipment for you? Like walkers, specialized feeding things (Z-vibe, jigglers), or Sure Steps or orthotics? I've heard some even do things like swingsets!
Our EI gave us feeding tools (z-vibes, NUK brushes, massager, maroon spoons, dipper spoons, cut-out cup) and loaned us a few things that we used until he outgrew the need (hip huggers, heavy weighted walker, Bumbo seat, foam wedge for his crib mattress, exercise ball.) The PT referred us for Sure Steps and gave us applications for grants for it, then she measured him for inserts after he outgrew the SS and ordered those for us but we paid for them.
3. How does your EI work as far as payment from parents? Is it on a sliding scale based on income? Or is it a free service to everyone regardless of income?
We do not pay for any EI therapy. They do bill Medicaid if your child qualifies for it, otherwise it is state funded regardless of income.
4. For those of you with 2-year-olds, have you had opportunities to attend training or information sessions about how to prepare for the transition to an IEP? What are you doing to get ready for this transition?
No, there was no training for IEP. I really didn't see it as that big of a difference from the IFSP. All I do to prepare is try to arrange child care for the kids so I can focus on the meeting. I never take the team snacks or bring special things either. I have Sean's next IEP next week, maybe I will bake something this time?
5. And finally, how often do you have therapy and what services does your child get currently?
When Sean was in home-based therapy the first year of life, we lived in a different county. He had one hour a week with his PT, one hour a month with our service coordinator, one hour every other week with OT and saw ST one hour every six months.
The county we are in now believes in parent-directed therapy, so they send one therapist who covers all areas of therapy to see you once a week for about 45 mins. She quickly goes over different things for you to work on and does a little with the child each week. I was disappointed in the approach they used and would of liked more intensive therapy. However, we would of had to seek private therapists and tried to get insurance coverage for it.
Right now, Sean has his therapy at school. I don't know exactly how long the sessions are, but I know he does feeding therapy every day (during snack time, probably 15 mins), sensory group once a week, PT once a week, a language group once a week. The class works together on a lot of the skills he needs to improve: gross/fine motor, and language (teacher uses English, Spanish and ASL consistently through the day.) The class is 50% IEP kiddos and 50% peer role models.The waiting list to be a peer role model is several years long (I just added Ella to it last week) and parents have to pay for those kids to attend. We paid for Aidan to attend there and he really learned so much from the time he was there.
Phew! If there are any other questions, let me know!