Beyond ECI

Moving on from the Texas Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program! This information will help your family make the transition from ECI.



Transition Conference or Meeting

Next Steps

Terms You May Know


Transition Timelines

Regulations: An Overview of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation

Checklist of the Steps in the Transition Process


As parents of a young child receiving early intervention services, you are partners with your ECI program staff. This partnership can help you move into new services when your child turns three and graduates from ECI. As you explore your options beyond ECI, your partnership may expand to include people from your school district, a local Head Start program, or other community agencies. We call the process of moving out of ECI “transition.”

Transition is addressed in your child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). When your child is within 27 and 33 months of age, your IFSP team will work with you to develop steps and transition services for the IFSP that are specific to your child and family.


Transitions are natural events for all of us. Remember your first day of school? What about the day you brought your new baby home? Successful transitions require planning ahead and working with others who can help. Your family’s culture will also bring a unique set of values, beliefs, customs, and behaviors that may affect how you plan and the choices you make.

In the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), your family sets goals based on your priorities and concerns, and identifies services and supports that you need to reach the goals. During transition, we will help you identify people and agencies that can help you get some of the same services. Some services you want may not be available to you. In that case, we will help you find other ways to help your child continue to grow and learn through activities in your family’s daily life, with family members, friends or other community resources.

As you plan, ask yourself:

  • What do I hope and dream for my child?
  • What does my child need now to grow and develop?
  • Where do I want my child to play and learn?

Choices After ECI

While you have been in ECI, we have maintained frequent contact with your family. Together we have developed outcomes and activities to help your child grow and learn, address your child’s health needs, and address the needs of your family. We can assist you in finding other resources for these issues when your child is no longer enrolled in ECI.

Some ideas to consider:

  • School district pre-kindergarten program
  • Charter schools
  • Classes for children, such as art or music
  • Head Start
  • Friends with young children
  • Child care settings
  • Parent’s Day Out programs
  • Community parks
  • Community recreation programs
  • Neighborhood play groups
  • Private therapy
  • Library story hours

Your service coordinator can help you determine what might be needed for your child to participate in any of these activities. For example, some places may require you to provide your child’s birth certificate or medical/immunization information. You may want to discuss in advance issues such as:

  • special accommodations your child may need,
  • how your child will get to and from the activity or program,
  • their policies for giving and storing medication,
  • any fees they may charge, and
  • any special diet restrictions.

It is also important to know how they manage behavior. If your child uses assistive technology, you will want to talk with them about this in advance. If being away from you is hard for your child, you may want to discuss with your service coordinator ways to help your child adjust.

School districts must also plan for children that may be eligible for special education services. Some children enrolled in ECI will be eligible for these services when they are three years old.

Transition planning helps you address your child’s educational and developmental needs. It can also help you address your child’s social/emotional needs, and health and dental needs.

Service needs you may want to think about for your child and family could include:

  • Dentists
  • Primary care physicians
  • Information about “medical homes”
  • Medicaid, CHIP, or private insurance
  • Medical specialists
  • After hours clinics
  • Children with Special Health Care Needs
  • Children and Pregnant Women’s services
  • Case management services
  • State agency services
  • Parent support groups
  • Parent training resources
  • Respite care
  • Advocacy groups
  • Counseling
  • Community centers
  • Medicaid waiver programs

To Plan Ahead...

Your Family Can:

  • Imagine what kinds of activities you would like to see your child doing.
  • Imagine an “ideal” day for your child, and consider what steps are needed to make it happen.
  • Discuss what types of programs or services you wish to pursue.
  • Decide if you want a friend, relative, or other person to participate in the transition conference or meeting with you.

ECI Providers Will:

  • Offer your family information about transition planning and related community resources.
  • Help your family in planning transition steps.
  • Explain the differences between ECI and other programs.
  • Invite appropriate people from other agencies to come to a transition meeting.

Transition Conference or Meeting

Your service coordinator will help you schedule transition meetings. At each meeting, you will meet with people from your school district, Head Start, child care, a parents’s day out program, or other programs in your community. If you are considering several options, you may have more than one meeting. If you are considering a group program for your child, the meeting may include visits to the classrooms or program sites.

Meeting with community Service Providers

Your service coordinator can help you schedule transition meetings with community service providers.

Things you may want to ask about include:

  • Scheduling
  • Costs
  • Transportation
  • Any special diet needs
  • Giving medication
  • Other special needs such as wheel chair ramps

Things you may want to share include:

  • Important information about your child and family
  • Your hopes and dreams for your child
  • Your child’s favorite toys and activities

Conference with the School District Staff

Public schools have services called Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) that begin for eligible children on their third birthday. If you want to explore PPCD services, and you give your approval, you will participate in a transition conference with representatives of the school district and ECI. The transition conference usually occurs three to nine months before your child’s third birthday. You may invite anyone you want to the conference. As with your IFSP meetings, you may invite other people to the Transition Conference. For example, you may bring someone who has worked with your child in another setting, or a friend who is familiar with your child or parent advocate along for support.

The school district or your ECI program will conduct the conference in your native language using words and terms you can understand. To get the most from this conference, let your service coordinator know if you need translation or interpreter services, including sign language.

At the conference, the school district or ECI staff will:

  • Explain eligibility requirements for PPCD services
  • Explain the evaluation procedures for determining eligibility
  • Explain the steps in the process
  • Explain your parental rights
  • Explain the different types of information that may be needed from you during the process
  • Discuss locations where services may be provided. Children may receive PPCD services in pre-kindergarten classes, and community settings such as preschool or Head Start.
  • Answer your questions and consider your concerns.

To help school district staff understand your family, you can:

  • Share ideas for goals and objectives that are important to your family
  • Invite to the conference friends, relatives, or child care staff who may have useful information
  • Describe your child’s current activities and routines
  • Describe what you want for your child in terms of future activities and routines

The school district program will address your child’s educational needs, but unlike ECI, it does not address family needs. Your service coordinator will help you access services to meet your family’s other needs.

Next Steps

If the IFSP team thinks your child may qualify for special education, ECI will notify the school district that your child may be eligible for services from their PPCD program. ECI sends these notices to school districts at least three months before the child’s third birthday. The advance notice to the district gives them time to evaluate your child and, if found eligible, to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP), also known as an Individualized Education Plan, so services can begin on the child’s third birthday. We may also ask for your consent to send other information to the district, such as the current evaluation or IFSP, to help them plan for your child.

If you have already decided that you are not interested in the PPCD program, just ask us, in writing, not to send the notice, or any other information about your child, to the school district at this time. We will let you know at least 10 days before the notice is sent to the school district.

You have the right to change your mind. If you decide to pursue PPCD as an option for services when your child turns three, just let us know and we will provide the appropriate notice to the district at that time. Just remember that the more time the district has for planning, the smoother the transition for you and your child.

Whether your child will be going to public school, child care or other community programs, be sure to discuss what you want for your child. If you don’t understand the information provided to you, ask questions. No question is too small. The key to a good transition is communication among all those who know and care for your child. Together you will think of many creative ideas to help your child enjoy each new step.

School District Services

If your child is to be evaluated for school district special education services, you will go through the following process:

Step l: Evaluation
The school district must get your signed consent for the evaluation to proceed. Once you have given your consent, your child will be evaluated within 60 calendar days. Other sources of information, such as your child’s ECI records, and information you provide will also be considered in the evaluation. The school must give you a copy of your child’s full individual evaluation (FIE).

Step 2: Eligibility Determination
The results of the evaluation will be used to determine if your child is eligible to receive special education services. The eligibility requirements for school district services are different from those for ECI. The school must determine that your child has a disability andneeds special education services.

After the evaluation, you will be invited to participate on the team that determines whether or not your child is eligible for special education services. Only children found eligible for special education can participate in the school district’s PPCD. If your child is eligible, the team will develop an IEP for your child. Related services, such as therapies, are not available from the school district if your child is not found eligible for special education.

The team that makes these important decisions is called the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Committee. You are an important member of that team. Other people on the ARD Committee include: an early childhood special education teacher, a representative of the school district, a person who can interpret the results of the evaluation, one or more therapists, and others with knowledge about your child. It may also include a regular kindergarten or pre-kindergarten teacher.

You may invite people to participate, including your ECI provider. Some parents are more comfortable at the meeting if they have a friend, family member or maybe another parent with them. You may also want to look at the terms on page 9 before the meeting.

Step 3: Developing the IEP
The most important job of the ARD Committee is developing your child’s IEP. Your participation is very important. You have important information about your child’s strengths, as well as those areas of his development where you have concerns. Your goals for your child are also important for the ARD Committee to know and address. Goals are written so that your child’s progress can be measured annually. You will be provided progress reports on your child’s IEP goals at regular intervals during the school year. You will be asked to participate in ARD Committee meetings to review and, when necessary, revise your child’s IEP throughout the time your child is receiving special education services. The IEP must be reviewed at least annually.

The ARD Committee decides on what services your child will receive, how often those services will be provided, and for how long. If your child’s behavior may cause problems at school, the evaluation results should include recommendations on how to help your child learn appropriate behaviors at school. These decisions should all be written into the IEP. The ARD Committee also decides where your child will receive the services. By law, your child must receive services in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This means the school must try to provide the special education services your child needs in places, such as a preschool program in the community, where your child can be with children who do not have disabilities.

The ARD committee is required to meet within 30 calendar days after the evaluation for special education has been completed to determine eligibility and develop your child’s IEP. However, if the 30 days falls in the summer when school is not in session, the ARD committee can wait until the first day of classes to meet and make those decisions unless the evluation shows that your child will lose skills without services during the summer. Services provided during the summer to prevent loss of skills are called “extended school year” (ESY) services. If you think your child needs services before the start of the school year to prevent regression or loss of skills, you can ask that the ARD Committee meet to consider your request.

Once the ARD Committee agrees on the IEP, you will be asked to sign that you agree with the IEP. Be sure to get and keep a copy of your child’s IEP.

Though these are probably not things that need to be in the IEP, you may also want to discuss at the meeting ways to make your child’s first days in the new program happy and successful. For example, you may ask to schedule visits to the new classroom, send a familiar toy from home, or discuss other strategies to ensure a successful transition.

Other Options
Not all children want or need special education services at age three. If your child is not eligible for school district services, or you just don’t want your child to go to school at age three, your ECI service coordinator will help you explore and plan for other options. Planning for transition is just as important for children and families not pursuing services from the school district at this time. Your options may include some of the resources mentioned on pages 2 and 3.

Terms You May Hear

Below are some terms you may hear during the transition process that haven’t already been explained somewhere in this book.

Adjustments made in how a student with a disability is taught or tested. Accommodations do not change what is taught or what a student is expected to know. Extension of time to complete work and seating near the teacher are common accommodations. (See Modifications)

Assistive technology device:
An item, piece of equipment, or product, used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a person with a disability. Some children use assistive technology devices to communicate with others and to enable them to participate in activities with other children.

Assistive technology service:
A service that helps someone select, acquire, or use an assistive technology device. Services can include training or assisting the child, family or a professional working with the child to use the device.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
A written plan, included in a child’s IEP, that identifies the supports and services that will be provided to prevent inappropriate behaviors from occurring, and to teach and support desired behaviors.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE):
Federal law gives students who have disabilities the right to a free appropriate public education, including special education and related services. The public school provides these services at no cost to the parents.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA):
A federal law that gives parents access to their child’s school records. FERPA also limits who other than the parent can see their child’s school records without their permission.

Head Start/Early Head Start:
A federally funded program that provides child development services designed to promote school readiness to eligible children and their families. Head Start programs serve children with and without disabilities. Eligibility is based on family income.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):
This federal law gives every child with a disability the right to a public education at no cost to the family. Part C of the IDEA requires services to begin at birth and extends until the child turns 3. ECI programs deliver Part C services. Part B of the IDEA requires services for children from ages 3-21. Most children receiving Part B services are in public schools.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE):
The term used to describe a student’s right to be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with students his or her age who do not have disabilities.

Local Education Agency (LEA):
The public schools (including charter schools) operating in accordance with state statutes, regulations, and policies of the Texas Education Agency.

Unlike accommodations, modifications do change the level of instruction provided or taught. Modifications create a different standard for the student with a disability. Making changes in the curriculum being taught for a student with an intellectual disability is a common modification. Needed modifications should be in the child’s IEP. (See Accommodations)

Notification Process:
Information sent to the school district about a child and family for transition purposes. Information sent includes child and parent(s) names, address, child’s date of birth, and phone number.

Opt Out:
Request made to the ECI program to withdraw child’s name from the notification process to the school district.

Related Services:
Support services needed by a student in order to benefit from special education services. Related services may include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, music therapy, orientation and mobility training, transportation, and more. A student must be eligible for special education in order to receive related services. Because a child received therapy services in ECI does not mean he will receive them from the public school if there is no educational need for those services.

Supplementary Aids and Services
Services provided to a child with a disability so the child can be educated with students without disabilities. Examples for young children include: assistance provided by a paraprofessional, arranging a classroom to accommodate a wheelchair, or provided modified seating.


The ECI Collection

The ECI Collection at the Texas Department of State Health Services
Audiovisual Library

The ECI Library Collection includes current books, DVDs, assessment instruments and journals in the area of early childhood intervention. Related subjects include child development, parenting, specific disabilities (such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism), laws and legislation related to children with disabilities, and children’s literature about children with disabilities. It is open to anyone in Texas.

Most materials may be checked out for two weeks. The library sends the materials free of charge, however the borrower is responsible for the cost of returning the items.

Call: 512-458-7260
Visit: 1111 North Loop Blvd., Austin, Texas 78751
Web Site:


The Arc of Texas
This manual walks parents and students step by step through the special education process.

It is available in both English and Spanish and can be download from either of the following websites:

Online Resources

DARS ECI Website

Texas Education Agency/Special Education Main Page

A Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process
Texas Education Agency
Division of Special Education
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701-1494

Telephone: 512-463-9414
Fax: 512-463-9560
Download from the Internet at:

Partners Resource Network
A statewide parent-run organization that helps parents of children with disabilities or delays to access public school and community services.
Toll Free Telephone: 1-800-866-4726

Texas Project FIRST
A website created and run by parents of children with disabilities, organized to link parents to a variety of information and resources most relevant for the age of their child. For example, there are specific sections for parents of children ages birth to three, and also three to five. You can also sign up for their mailing list.


Americans with Disabilities Act

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)

Choosing Child Care (Department of Family and Protective Services)

Texas Head Start State Collaboration Office>


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
1-800-514-0301 or TDD: 1-800-514-0383

U.S. Office of Civil Rights

HHSC 2-1-1 Texas Information and Referral Network
Telephone No.: 2-1-1

Transition Timelines

For Children 27 through 30 months of age:
IFSP includes steps and services for transition to education programs and/or community programs and services as identified with the family.

For Children 27 through 35 months of age:
Schedule, with family approval, the transition conference between the family ECI program and school district program or with other community programs and services.

For Children 27 through 35 months of age:
Parents visit school district programs for three-year-olds and/or other community programs and services as identified.

For Children 27 through 35 months of age:
For a child potentially eligible for school district services, complete notification to the local school. Parent may opt out of notification.

For Children 27 through 35 months of age:
For a child going to a community program or service, transition steps for enrollment will be completed.

For Children 30 through 35 months of age:
School district conducts, with parental consent, evaluations to establish eligibility for special education services so, if the child is eligible, an IEP can be developed and implemented by the child’s third birthday.

For Children 30 through 35 months of age:
An ARD meeting is held to determine eligibility for special education services and, if the child is eligible and the parent wants school services, to develop an IEP. If needed, schedule another meeting to plan for transition to other community programs and services.

For Children 36 months of age and older:
Implement plan for school district services as identified on the IEP or begin to participate in community programs and services.

ECI services end.

An Overview of ADA, IDEA, and Section 504* ADA

Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

A civil rights law to prohibit discrimination solely on the basis of disability in employ-ment, public services, and accommodations.

Who is Eligible?
Any individual with a disability who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities; (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Further, the person must be qualified for the program, service or job.

Responsibility To Provide a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?
Not directly. However, ADA provides additional protection in combination with actions brought under Section 504 and IDEA. ADA protections apply to nonsectarian private schools, but not to organizations or entities controlled by religious organizations. Reasonable accommodations are required for eligible students with a disability to perform essential functions of the job. This applies to any part of the special education program that may be community-based and involve job training/ placement. Although not required, an IEP under IDEA will fulfill requirements of Title II of the ADA for an appropriate education for a student with disabilities.

Funding to Implement Requirements?
No, but limited tax credits may be available for removing architectural or transportation barriers. Also, many federal agencies provide grants to public and private institutions to support training and technical assistance.

Procedural Safeguards/Due Process
The ADA does not specify procedural safeguards related to special education; it does detail the administrative requirements, complaint procedures, and consequences for noncompliance related to both services and employment. The ADA also does not delineate specific due process procedures. People with disabilities have the same remedies that are available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Thus, individuals who are discriminated against may file a complaint with the relevant federal agency or sue in federal court. Enforcement agencies encourage informal mediation and voluntary compliance.

Evaluation/Placement Procedures
The ADA does not specify evaluation and placement procedures; it does specify provision of reasonable accommodations for eligible students across educational activities and settings. Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to, redesigning equipment, assigning aides, providing written communication in alternative formats, modifying tests, reassigning services to accessible locations, altering existing facilities, and building new facilities.

IDEA, Individuals with Disabiilities Education Act (IDEA) amended in 2005

An education act to provide federal financial assistance to state and local education agencies to guarantee special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities.

Who is Eligible?
Children and youth aged 3-21 who are determined through an individualized evaluation and by a multidisciplinary team (including the parent) to be eligible in one or more of 13 categories and who need special education and related services. The categories are autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment including blindness. Children aged 3 through 9 experiencing developmental delays may also be eligible. Infants and toddlers from birth through age 2 may be eligible for early intervention services, delivered in accordance with an individualized family service plan.

Responsibility To Provide a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?
Yes. A FAPE is defined to mean special education and related services that are provided at no charge to parents, meet other state educational standards, and are consistent with an individualized educational program (IEP). Special education means “specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability.” Related services are those required to assist a child to benefit from special education, including speech-language pathology, physical and occupational therapy, and others. A team of professionals and parents develop and review at least annually, an IEP for each child with a disability. IDEA requires certain content in the IEP.

Funding to Implement Requirements?
Yes. IDEA provides federal funds under Parts B and C to assist state and local educational agencies in meeting IDEA requirements to serve infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.

Procedural Safeguards/Due Process
IDEA provides for procedural safeguards and due process rights to parents in the identification, evaluation and educational placement of their child. Prior written notice of procedural safeguards and of proposals or refusals to initiate or change identification, evaluation, or placement must be provided to parents. IDEA delineates the required components of these notices. Disputes may be resolved through mediation, impartial due process hearings, appeal of hearing decisions, and/or civil action.

Evaluation/Placement Procedures
With parental consent, an individualized evaluation must be conducted using a variety of technically sound, unbiased assessment tools. Based on the results, a team of professionals (including the parent of the child) determines eligibility for special education. Reevaluations are conducted at least every 3 years. Results are used to develop an IEP that specifies the special education, related services, and supplemental aids and services to be provided to address the child’s goals. Placement in the least restrictive environment (LRE) is selected from a continuum of alternative placements, based on the child’s IEP, and reviewed at least annually. IEPs must be reviewed at least annually to see whether annual goals are being met. IDEA contains specific provisions about IEP team composition, parent participation, IEP content, and consideration of special factors.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1971

A civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities, public and private, that receive federal financial assistance.

Who is Eligible?
Any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. The person must be qualified for the services or job; in the case of school services, the person must be of an age when nondisabled peers are typically served or be eligible under IDEA.

Responsibility To Provide a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?
Yes. An “appropriate” education means an education comparable to that provided to students without disabilities. This may be regular or special education. Students can receive related services under Section 504 even if they are not provided any special education. These are to be provided at no additional cost to the child and his or her parents. Section 504 requires provision of educational and related aids and services that are designed to meet the individual educational needs of the child. The individualized educational program of IDEA may be used to meet the Section 504 requirement.

Funding to Implement Requirements?
No. State and local jurisdictions have responsibility. IDEA funds may not be used to serve children found eligible only under Section 504.

Procedural Safeguards/Due Process
Section 504 requires notice to parents regarding identification, evaluation, placement, and before a “significant change” in placement. Written notice is recommended. Following IDEA procedural safeguards is one way to meet Section 504 mandates. Local education agencies are required to provide impartial hearings for parents who disagree with the identification, evaluation, or placement of a student. Parents must have an opportunity to participate in the hearing process and to be represented by counsel. Beyond this, due process is left to the discretion of local districts. It is recommended that they develop policy guidance and procedures.

Evaluation/Placement Procedures
Section 504 provides for a placement evaluation that must involve multiple assessment tools tailored to assess specific areas of educational need. Placement decisions must be made by a team of persons familiar with the student who understand the evaluation information and placement options. Students with disabilities may be placed in a separate class or facility only if they cannot be educated satisfactorily in the regular education setting with the use of supplementary aids and services. Significant changes to placement must be preceded by an evaluation.

Section 504 provides for periodic reevaluation. Parental consent is not required for evaluation or placement.

* “An Overview of ADA, IDEA, and Section 504,” produced by the ERIC Clearinghouse, ERIC digest #E606. Visit the website: ERIC digests are in the public domain and may be freely reproduced with acknowledgement.

Checklist of the Steps in the Transition Process

  • My child’s service coordinator began talking to me about the transition process shortly after my child’s second birthday.
  • We developed steps and transition services that include service options, resources, time lines and person responsible for activity.
  • My ECI program notified my school district that my child may be eligible for PPCD, unless I asked them not to.
  • My IFSP team helped me explore places in my community for my child to continue to grow and learn.
  • We held a transition meeting or conference before my child’s third birthday.
  • My service coordinator made a referral for my child to the placement option of my choice. My child’s records were provided with the referral if I gave consent.

For School District Services

  • My child has been evaluated to determine eligibility for services through my local education agency (LEA).
  • Before my child turned three, we held a meeting to develop an IEP for my child.


Do you have questions about how your child under age 3 is growing or developing?

Visit the ECI Program Search page to find the local program in your area or call the HHS Office of the Ombudsman at 1-877-787-8999, select a language, then select Option 3.