Children 0-3

Transitioning Out

Eventually, all families end their Early Intervention services.  Many families and their children move on to other community programs.  Moving from one program to another is often referred to as a transition.  By law, your involvement with the Montana Milestones/Part C program must end no later than your child’s third birthday. Before age three, you and your Family Support Specialist need to plan for the move from the early intervention you are receiving to those you need in the future.

Transition is different for every family.  There are several ways your child may make the transition to the next step in his or her growth and learning:

  • Your child may leave the Montana Milestones/Part C before age three.
  • Your child may be eligible for Preschool Special Education services through your local public school district or Special education cooperative by age three.
  • Your child will transition to other available support in your community at age three.

Your child’s Family Support Specialist will assist you and your child as you move to the next place, or setting, smoothly and on time.
Transition Guidance Document

Transitioning Out

Six to three months before a child’s third birthday, the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) team must meet to plan the child’s transition from the Part C Early Intervention program to Part B Special Education. Some children will not need any more special services, others will move into the preschool special education program from the local school district or co-op. Other children may need services from more local programs such as Head Start or a community childcare center. Some families will continue to get services from their early intervention agency. However, these state-funded services are limited, and are not covered by federal law.

When children need preschool special education, a joint planning meeting (or meetings) must occur at least 90 days before the move from Part C Early Intervention programs to the Part B preschool special education. Since eligibility rules are not the same between the programs, combined meetings help the professionals who determine eligibility for Part B preschool special education services.

Preschool Transition focuses on the child’s third birthday because:

  1. The child is no longer eligible for the IDEA/Part C early intervention program;
  2. The child may be eligible for the local IDEA/Part B Special Education program;
  3. The child may be eligible for other discretionary (not required by law) disability services.

Your Family Support Specialist will, with your permission:

  • Convene a Transition Planning Meeting at least 90 days and up to six months before the child’s third birthday;
  • Invite a representative from the local public school’s special preschool education program to attend the meeting;
  • Schedule the Transition Planning Meeting at a time and place that is mutually agreed upon by all those who will attend;
  • Assist your family through the transition process.

Transition Planning Meeting

The “core team” of the Transition Planning Meeting includes parents of the child, the family’s Family Support Specialist, and a representative of the local public school or special education cooperative.

Learn more about what to expect:


  • Determine whether other parties should participate, as necessary;
  • Discuss the similarities and differences between early intervention and special education programs under IDEA;
  • Discuss the termination of Part C early intervention services;
  • Advise the family about alternatives to special education if the child is not eligible to continue under IDEA services, or if the parent chooses not to refer for IDEA services;
  • Arrange for the family to meet special education personnel and visit possible preschool sites, if the family wishes;
  • With written parental consent, share records (assessments, evaluations, IFSPs, other useful information) with the public school preschool special education program;
  • Help the family to recognize the stress inherent in making the change from one program to another; and
  • Assist the child and the family to begin to develop a trusting, effective working relationship with the staff and administration of the preschool special education program.
  • Provide the family an opportunity to meet the public school staff and to begin to develop mutually supportive relationships;
  • Review the child’s priority outcomes for the time from his/her third birthday through the beginning of the next school year;
  • Describe the steps and anticipated outcomes of the transition process;
  • Consider future needs and placements in relation to current services;
  • Discuss how to help prepare the child and family for changes in service delivery;
  • Help the family to decide if they wish to make a referral for evaluation for preschool special education services;
  • Develop a plan for transition.

Other things to remember:

  • More than one meeting may be necessary;
  • The transition meeting should, above all, help the family to understand preschool procedures and services;
  • The transition plan which is developed at the transition meeting becomes part of the child’s IFSP;
  • The family may or may not decide to refer their child for evaluation for preschool special education after the transition planning meeting.

Helpful Hints

1. Start Early!

The infant and toddler years go by quickly. Begin to plan early for your child’s next step at age three.

2. Be part of the transition planning team.

Play an active role in the decisions made about your child’s transition.

3. Know and understand your child’s educational rights.

When you sign the form to have your child evaluated by the school district, your school district will give you a copy of “Parents Rights in the Special Education Process.” Read the booklet.

4. Know and understand the responsibilities of the school district.

Preschool special education is very different from the early intervention program. It is important for you to understand the differences.

5. Think about your child’s strengths and abilities.

An important role for you is to talk about your child’s strengths. Sharing the things your child likes and dislikes with the team can help the school staff to understand and serve your child better.

6. Remember that you are going through a transition, too.

The Part C program is very nurturing for families as well as for children. Preschool special education is focused on a child’s educational needs and not on family needs. You will be saying goodbye to professionals who have been significant in your life and meeting a new group of professionals. Give yourself time to adjust to the change.