By law, if your child qualifies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), he/she is entitled to special instruction and related services in his/her preschool through your state. The Preschool Services program in your state ensures the provision of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all eligible children at no cost to their families and in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). LRE means that young children with disabilities should receive services in typical community-based early childhood settings whenever possible and only go to more restrictive or specialized settings when their individual needs require it.
Each of the 21 counties in NJ has a Special Child Health Services Case Management Unit (SCHCS CMU) that is jointly funded by NJ SCHS and the County Board of Chosen Freeholders. All SCHS CMU Case Managers, with parent consent, work with the child’s parents, physician, and/or specialists to evaluate an affected child’s strengths and needs; and collaborates with the family and community-based partners to develop and individual service plan (ISP) for the child and family. Visit the NJ DOE for more information.
Visit the State of NJ PARENT LINK website for resources on early childhood.
“Who is rich? He/she who rejoices in his/her portion.”
To qualify for accommodations, your child must be between the ages of 3 and 5 and have a disability that falls under one of the following categories set out by the Federal guidelines:
To become eligible for these services, a child must be screened and assessed by your school system. Based on the findings, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team meets to determine eligibility and recommendations, which will be documented in an IEP to ensure the child gets what he/she needs to thrive in his/her educational setting.
It is important to note that according to IDEA, “parentally placed private school children” with disabilities may have different benefits available to them. The local education agencies (LEAs) give a proportionate amount of money each year from the federal government to provide services for these children. This means that some “parentally placed private school children” will receive services while others will not. The LEAs are required to meet with the private institutions and administrators in their area at least annually to discuss the plan for special education services. Since the funds provided for children in private schools are limited, parents typically pay out of pocket.
Please note: The above does not refer to private schools designed specifically for children with learning differences.