Head Start is committed to serving children with special learning needs and their families. As such, we encourage parents to advocate for their child, so his or her needs are fully understood and supported in our classrooms and on home visits.

We also work with parents to better understand the learning needs of their child and in finding resources that will support them as the parents and primary teacher /advocate for their child.


What are the ASQ and the ASQ-SE?

The ASQ (Ages and Stages Questionnaire) and the ASQ-SE (Ages and Stages Questionnaire for Social / Emotional Development) is a tool used to assess a child’s development in four given areas: language and communication, gross and fine motor skills, cognitive or problem solving skills, and social / emotional development. Our teachers are trained to help parents use this tool, to determine how their child is doing in each given area and to discuss concerns regarding their child’s development.

What should I do if I am concerned about my child’s development?

Parents are encouraged to advocate for their child’s needs through partnering with teachers and support staff. By partnering with their child’s teacher, parents develop their knowledge of early childhood development, while playing an important role in supporting and encouraging their child’s learning and overall development.

Parents are encouraged to talk to their child’s teacher (s) about concerns regarding their child’s development. Working with the teacher, parents complete the developmental screenings and discuss all identified concerns. All concerns should be looked at and discussed. When the parent(s) and/or teacher have concerns that should be looked at further, a referral to Clackamas ESD can be made. With parental consent an ESD specialist can help determine if additional evaluation is necessary (www.clackesd.k12.or.us/ece/eiecse.html)

What should I know if my child’s score is atypical or below the developmental norm on the screening (ASQ)?

Children develop at different rates. The purpose of a screening tool is to help identify early on any developmental concerns a child may be showing. Should a child score below the developmental norm for their age, in two or more developmental areas, (motor skills, problem solving, communication, and/or social/emotional development), the child’s teacher will discuss with the parent(s) the option of making a referral to Clackamas ESD, to determine if further evaluations are necessary. Parents must consent and sign the Head Start to ESD referral, to have their child observed by an ESD specialist.

What if there is only concern about my child’s speech?

Both the developmental screening (ASQ) and articulation screening that is used to listen for typical sound development for children between the ages of 3-5 are used to help identify children with speech needs. If the child is below what is typical for his or her age, then a referral to Clackamas ESD is completed. Parents must sign the Head Start to ESD referral to have their child observed by an ESD speech and language specialist.

What should I know if my child’s score is atypical on the social/emotional developmental screening (ASQ-SE)?

The teacher will discuss concerns the parent noted on the ASQ-SE. This screening tool helps identify social/emotional strengths and needs of the child. These concerns can be addressed on home visits, in the classroom, and/or in accessing other community support (such as counseling, other evaluations, and/or parenting classes). A referral to the Head Start mental health staff can also be made. Mental health staff are available for additional support. Parents can request a phone call and/or home visit by a mental health staff person. Teachers may also consult with Head Start mental health staff to support the child’s social/emotional needs and growth in the classroom.

What is ESD

In Clackamas County, ESD is known as Clackamas County Education Service District. Clackamas County Children’s Commission Head Start (CCCCHS) has an interagency agreement with Clackamas ESD. The purpose of this collaborative relationship is to provide special education and other related services to children with disabilities enrolled in CCCCHS.

To learn more about Clackamas ESD early intervention (ages 0-3) and preschool special education (ages 3-5), go to www.clackesd.k12.or.us/ece/eiecse.html.

What is an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)?

Once a child has been evaluated by ESD, a follow up meeting is scheduled. Present at the meeting are the child’s parent(s)/guardian, preschool teacher, evaluation team, support specialists, and any other support person the parent / guardian may want to invite.

At this meeting, the evaluation results are discussed and a decision is made as to whether or not the child qualifies for preschool special education services. Those present will write an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) if the child is eligible for services. It is very important that the parent/guardian take part in creating this document. The IFSP defines the child’s special education services, supports, accommodations and modifications. What is written in this plan is implemented into the classroom. Consultation with ESD specialists and/or other direct services (i.e. a speech therapist) may also be a part of the IFSP.

What if my child does not qualify for ESD services?

Sometimes a child does not qualify for services. Developmental delays may be due to a lack of exposure to a wide variety of learning opportunities within the child’s environment. Developmental delays may be due to a child learning two languages at the same time. Trauma, frequent changes in the child’s life and other environmental factors can also contribute to delays in a child’s development.

Parent(s) are encouraged to work with the child’s teacher, to identify the child’s strengths and needs. By using the child’s Individual goal plan (IGP) the child’s progress can be closely monitored.

If a child is not progressing the parent(s)/ guardian may request that their child be observed again by ESD. When a child is transitioning to kindergarten, it is helpful to share with the new teacher the child’s strengths, needs, and/ or developmental concerns.

What will happen when my child transitions to kindergarten?

Transition meetings are provided to children receiving ESD services. This meeting takes place at the school the child will attend his/her kindergarten year. At times, a child will need to first be re-evaluated by ESD and/or the school district, to determine if the child is eligible for school age services.

A transitional meeting is like an annual IFSP meeting. The child’s progress will be discussed and goals will be set, along with defining the way services will be provided to the child during his/her school hours. This new plan for school age services is called and IEP (Individual Education Plan).

The Oregon Parent training and information center offers a IEP Partner Program. This program is parent helping parents. Parents can request that an IEP partner help them prepare for their child’s IEP meeting and attend the meeting as well. An IEP partner can attend the IEP meeting and act as a note taker. IEP partners, however, cannot speak for the parent(s).

To learn more about the IEP partner program, go to:
www.orpti.org/ Click on IEP Partner Program.

The phone number for the Oregon Parent Training and Information Center is 1-888-877-6266.

IEP Parent Partnerrs program www.orpti.org/ieppartner

What if I need additional help or want to learn more about my child’s IFSP and/or educational rights?

The following agencies provide parent trainings such as special education rights and the IFSP / IEP process, provide IEP partners (parent 2 parent), and work to help parents advocate and communicate effectively with their child’s school and educational team.

FACT (Family and Community Together: Empowering Oregon Families Experiencing Disability) Services include: Parent Training and Information (PTI), Family Advocacy Network (FAN), Parent to Parent (P2P), FACT family network.

OrFirst: OrFirst is a non-profit Community Parent Resource Center serving special education families located in Portland, Oregon with children birth to age 26.

  • www.orfirst.org
  • info@orfirst.org
  • Helpline: (503) 232-0302
  • For Help in Spanish please call Mirsa Lopez (503) 232-0302

What if I want more information specifically concerning my child’s learning needs and/or disability?

The Jean Baton Swindells Resource Center for Children and Families connects families, caregivers and friends of children with disabilities to resources, information and training. Families often come to the Swindells Center seeking answers to many of the questions that surface in their everyday lives. The Center offers resources specific to disabilities and conditions, as well as information on respite options, recreation, educational options and other day to day issues.

The Swindells Center staff will research topics relevant to the needs of one’s child and family. They have a user friendly library. By going to their website, one can also find links to other community and national groups providing resources for families of children with disabilities.

For more info, go to:

Scroll down and click on “Providence Children’s Center.”

  • 830 Ne 47th Ave., Portland, Oregon 97213
  • (503) 215-2429
  • swindells@providence.org

Preparing for your child’s Individual Family Service Plan meeting (IFSP)

Road Map to Your Child’s Educational Program

By Sara Gelser, Parent Representative, SICC

It may just seem like a large stack of papers, but your child’s IFSP is the road map to his or her educational services. Everything that happens to your child in an educational setting is (or should be) reflected in her IFSP. As a result, it is important that you take an active role in creating this document and that you understand everything it says. The following are some helpful hints for successful participation in the IFSP process.

Think about your goals for your child

Before the meeting, spend time thinking about how your child is doing. Do you have particular concerns about his/her development? What are your hopes and dreams for your child? What do you think needs to happen to make these dreams a reality? Talk with family members, friends, and clergy about their dreams, hopes and concerns for your child. Write down all of these ideas and bring them to share at the meeting.

Prepare a report

Prepare a brief report to give at the meeting, outline who your child is, what she does best, and what she needs to work on. Prioritize which goals are most important to you, your child, and your family. Talk about what progress you have seen in your child since the last meeting, what’s working well, what isn’t working well, and what ideas you might have for the future. Share any changes in the home which might have an impact on your child’s progress. Share any concerns you have about your child’s progress or the program.

Find out who will be there

Before the meeting, be sure you know who was invited to the meeting and why. Be sure that all of the people you feel need to be there are invited. For example, if you are particularly concerned about your child’s speech, be certain a speech therapist is at the meeting.

Invite a support person to the meeting

You can bring anyone you want to the meeting with you. Family, friends, neighbors, or third party advocates. These people can provide moral support during the meeting and can help you debrief afterwards. If you can’t bring someone with you, consider bringing a tape recorder. It is fine to record the meeting as long as you inform people that you are doing so before the meeting starts.

Be sure enough time is scheduled for your meeting

Find out how much time has been allotted for your child’s IFSP, and if you feel more time is needed to appropriately address all of your child’s needs, request that the meeting be rescheduled.

Make sure that you understand the IFSP

Does the IFSP clearly explain what your child can do now and what she needs to learn? Is it clear to you what he/she is supposed to accomplish by the end of the year? Do you understand how the team will measure progress? Are all of your goals and concerns addressed in the IFSP? Is it clear how much time your child will spend with typically developing peers? Do you understand who will be providing services to your child, and where they will be provided? Do you understand your role in helping your child achieve her goals?

Does the IFSP address family needs?

The IFSP is unique because it is family centered. Be sure the document reflects family needs for services such as respite, counseling, or educational opportunities.

Keep records of the meeting

Bring your list of concerns and check them off as they are addressed. If all of your concerns haven’t been addressed by the end of the meeting, be sure to follow up on them later. You are a part of the process all year long, not just at the IFSP meeting. Regular, ongoing communication with the IFSP team is essential to your child’s success!

Final points to remember

  • You are a equal partner with all of the professionals at the table. A good, family centered IFSP meeting should have active and meaningful participation from the family as well as the professionals.
  • IFSPs should be needs driven, not budget driven. If you feel your child needs a service, it can only be denied because it is not educationally appropriate. Services which are appropriate and necessary cannot be denied because of lack of staff, lack of funding, or because “our county doesn’t do it that way.”
  • You don’t need to sign your IFSP the day of the meeting. You can take it home and review it before giving it your approval. This gives you a chance to step back and think about the meeting, and to have a friend or advocate review it with you.
  • You can call a new IFSP meeting whenever you feel it is necessary. If you feel there are new goals that must be addressed, discuss your concerns with staff. If the concerns continue, request a new IFSP meeting.
  • Foster positive communications with all of the people on your IFSP team. Everyone comes to the table because they want to help children. Positive communication will help make it happen.

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