Early Start is a program mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers 0-36 months with developmental disabilities or at risk for developmental disabilities. In California the law has been put into place under the California Early Intervention Services Act.
The lead administrative agency for Early Start in California is the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), which implements services through the Regional Centers. Ventura County SELPA interacts with two Regional Centers- the Tri-Counties Regional Center (serving residents of Ventura County) and the North Los Angeles County Regional Center (serving residents of Los Angeles County).
All referrals for the Early Start program start with the local regional center where the child lives.
The public schools are required by law to to provide the full range of Early Start services to children with solely vision, hearing or orthopedic disabilities. They also collaborate with the regional centers to provide Special Education services to a limited number of children also served by the Regional Center. In the Ventura County SELPA, the program is operated by four local districts, which operate as regional providers for all other districts in their area. The four districts are:
Ventura Unified School District
Simi Valley Unified School District
Oxnard School District
Conejo Valley Unified School District
See the Intra-SELPA chart for 0-2 year olds: Services to Infants 0-2
The majority of children eligible for services under Early Start are served by the Regional Center alone. To refer a child under 36 months with a suspected disability, call:
In Ventura County: (800) 664- 3771
In Los Angeles County: (800) 515- BABY
Rainbow Connection Family Resource Center is the publicly funded agency to provide information and support to families in the Early Start program.
Early Start Service Coordinators (from either Regional Center or schools) collaborate closely with the school district in which the child lives to coordinate the transition to Special Education preschool programs upon turning three, if eligible. The process begins at 2 years 3 months, and if eligible, the IEP must be developed no later than the child's third birthday. This timeline is not interrupted by breaks in the school calendar, even summer breaks.
SEE TABS AT LEFT FOR RESOURCES AND FORMS FOR EARLY START STAFF