St. Vrain Valley School District’s Department of Early Intervention Child Find program for preschoolers ages three through five, works to help children to learn at their highest ability.

If a parent believes a child has any sort of learning or educational disability they can set up a free evaluation by the Child Find Team to determine if they qualify for services.

“The purpose of Child Find is for the district to locate children who may have learning needs,” says Kitty Mulkey, M.A. CCC-SLP, Child Find Coordinator. “Our program focuses on three- to five-year-old’s. We locate preschool children who have difficulties that could impact their learning. The child is evaluated and the data is reviewed with the parents at an eligibility meeting afterward. Through that process we have a discussion of whether or not a child is eligible for services based on a specific definition.”

If it’s determined a child needs additional services then an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed. It states goals for the child to work on and who will be providing those services.

Laura Salgado, a bilingual family liaison for Child Find, says common learning issues include sensory issues, fine and gross motor issues, autism and a number of other hindrances to learning.

“Families know their children best. We talk to them and let them know that research shows that early intervention makes a difference. If a child would benefit from early intervention services we’re always in support of that,” says Theresa Clements, Director of Early Childhood Education for Boulder Valley School District. “The word disability can be very scary and have negative connotations. But what we’re saying is there is something going on within a child’s development that we know from research will impact the child’s ability to learn.”

If a family decides they want their child to participate in the program then the child will participate in the integrated early childhood program. They will have access to preschool in an inclusive environment and for the most part, special education services will be provided within the classroom.

“Research shows it matters and it makes a difference,” Clements says. “If we can provide a service that shows.”

Once a child is in the program the family will be followed up with at least three times a year. Teachers and other service providers will be looking for progress and meeting with parents at least three times a year to talk about either the progress or regression the child has made.

“If I have developmental needs that interfere with my ability to interact with the content or other children in a way that allows me to grow as a human, then I’m going to have more difficulty becoming a productive human adult,” says Mulkey. “The goal of special education is to support children and students becoming productive and independent citizens that are educated to the best of their abilities.”

By Darian Armer for Raised in the Rockies