With the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act of 1975 (Public Law 94-142) and reauthorization of IDEA in 2004, the federal government mandates that early intervention be a key in educating young children ages 3 to 5 with developmental disabilities to achieve their highest potential. Jefferson Parish began providing services to special education preschool students in 1977 after federal dollars were granted to states to provide services. Over the past 30 years, legislation and research in best practices has prompted change in the way in which early childhood services ideally can be organized and delivered in Jefferson Parish Public Schools. Students are provided access to a range of high quality learning opportunities in the natural environment which is where young children would be playing, learning, and participating if they did not have a disability. Our goal is to provide inclusion opportunities for 3-5 year old students to be educated alongside age appropriate peers with supports whenever possible to meet federal guidelines as well as to mutually benefit both the young child with special needs and the typically developing peer.
The Special Education Early Childhood Program provides early intervention services to nurture the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development of young students. The program instructs the students in the skills they need to appropriately interact with family, school, and community, as independently as possible within the realm of their capabilities. The program is committed to fostering positive self-esteem and a healthy respect for individual differences. It is also our goal to promote a sense of belonging and active participation for every child whether they are educated in the home, community, or school setting.
The Special Education Early Childhood Program attempts to improve each child’s abilities through developmentally appropriate practices with activity-based instruction and a functional, child-based curriculum based on the Louisiana Early Learning Standards. The Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale-R is used to balance child initiated activities with teacher directed activities and establish the daily schedule within the classroom setting. This promotes predictability, a sense of security, and helps students make smooth transitions to become progressively independent. Learning occurs throughout daily routines and activities and is based on the La. Comprehensive Curriculum for all students. Classroom activities may include story time, thematic unit activities, art, music, large motor development, fine motor development, and hygiene, snack, and rest time. Children learn through play in centers such as blocks, housekeeping, library, art, science, and table toys. The classrooms are equipped with a variety of art media, manipulatives, computers, and other assistive devices.
The Special Education Early Childhood Program serves 3-5 year old students who are identified as having a disabling condition. The disabling condition is identified by an evaluation conducted or reviewed by Child Search, a multi-disciplinary evaluation team. A child is eligible if his/her disabling condition meets criteria for an exceptionality specified in the Louisiana Department of Education Pupil Appraisal Handbook.
Program decisions are made on an individual basis at the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting according to the needs of the child. In attempting to service student’s needs in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)as mandated by best practices and federal laws, Jefferson Parish Public School System offers the following special education early childhood options.
Community Home Program for 3 Year Olds
Community/Home services are provided by an Early Childhood teacher to identified 3 year old students with special needs in their home, Head Start, or private setting chosen by the parents. These students are voluntarily enrolled in these settings and all expenses are incurred by the parents. These settings must be within Jefferson Parish. Jefferson Parish Public School System provides an itinerant early childhood teacher that works directly with students in the home or early childhood setting planning integrated activities to enhance modeling opportunities and cooperative play. The teacher also collaborates, supports, and consults care givers in the home and/or staff of the school that the child is attending and any related service providers working with the young child in making appropriate adaptations and modifications in the learning environment to address the special needs of a student. Students qualifying for related services may receive those services at an assigned Jefferson Parish Public School. JPPSS will also collaborate with Head Start to assist in providing technical support and opportunities for teacher training and professional development.
Community/Home Program for 4 and 5 Year Olds
Community/Home services may also be provided to identified 4 or 5 year old students with special needs in their home, Head Start, or private settings which are chosen by the parents. These students are voluntarily enrolled in these settings and all expenses are incurred by the parents. These settings must be within Jefferson Parish. The itinerant teacher works directly with students in the home or preschool setting planning integrated activities to enhance modeling opportunities and cooperative play. The teacher also collaborates, supports, and consults with the care givers and/or staff in the preschool or home settings in making adaptations and modifications in the learning environment to address the special needs of a student. Students qualifying for related services may receive those services at an assigned Jefferson Parish Public School.
4 and 5 year old Classroom Placement
The Special Education Early Childhood Program provides services to identified students with mild to severe disabilities. These self-contained classes are located on an elementary school site. The students are served by a Paraprofessional Training Unit which provides a low pupil/teacher ratio. The number of paraprofessionals assigned to the unit varies with the number of students in the class. Full or partial inclusion with typical peers is a common practice for prekindergarten and kindergarten aged children.
The Categorical Preschool classes provide services to 4 and 5 year old students on certain elementary school sites for students identified with low-incidence exceptionalities. These exceptionalities include Autism, Hearing Impairments, Orthopedic Impairments, and Visual Impairments. These classes may provide lower pupil/teacher ratios and specific instructional methods for these students. Students will also be included with typical peers through blended practices or by attending a prekindergarten or kindergarten class when possible.