Maryland Makes Changes to Infant and Toddlers Program

December 5, 2011
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Program continues to make early intervention for young children with disabilities and their families a priority in Maryland

BALTIMORE, MD
December 2, 2011

Since February 1, 2010, Maryland has offered families the choice to continue to receive infants and toddlers services through an Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) beyond age three until their child is eligible to enter kindergarten. This Extended IFSP Option opportunity was made possible for Maryland’s families through an awarded federal incentive grant. With the closing of this stimulus grant on November 30, 2011, Maryland is required to revise the age of eligibility for participation.

Over the past five months, the Early Childhood Intervention and Education Branch at the Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services collected stakeholder input regarding the age of eligibility for future participation in the Extended IFSP Option. Revised policies and procedures were posted on the MSDE web site for public comment this fall, and a public hearing was held for further input. As a result, the decision was made to continue to offer the Extended IFSP Option until a child’s fourth birthday.

Starting this month, families will have the choice to continue early intervention services through an IFSP beyond age three until their child’s fourth birthday. This Option is available for a family if a child has a current IFSP and is determined eligible for preschool special education and related services as a child with a disability. By a child’s 4th birthday, they must transition to services through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

The Extended IFSP Option will continue to promote school readiness for young children with disabilities by fostering educational proficiency, while at the same time, providing families with the training and support they need to promote their children’s development. “School readiness is the ultimate goal as we continue to expand the possibilities for children with disabilities and their families,” said Interim State Superintendent Bernard Sadusky. “Extending early intervention services provides the opportunity to incorporate the strength of our early childhood education system, along with the existing infants and toddlers family center service model.”

For more information about the Extended Individualized Family Service Plan Option for children with disabilities age three to age four, visit the Maryland State Department of Education website at www.MarylandPublicSchools.org and click on the Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services and under Branches click on the Early Childhood Intervention Education Branch.

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