Special Beginnings — Program Description
Chris Hill, Program Manager, Infant and Preschool Itinerant Program
Special Beginnings serves children from birth to five years of age with identified special needs. The goal of all our programs is to support the development of pre-academic skills and a sense of competence and enjoyment of learning in every special needs child. Toward this end, we operate three programs:
Early Start services target infants and toddlers under age three. The lead agency in California for Early Start is Redwood Coast Regional Center. HCOE has a formal working relationship with RCRC in which we help coordinate a range of community-based services to these very young children, as well as provide direct educational services.
HCOE has three special education teachers dedicated to serving children under age three: two are itinerant and visit children in homes and other community settings, and one teaches a self-contained class for children recently diagnosed with autism. We pride ourselves on our dedication to working closely with other community agencies and providers, and supporting parents as they learn about their "special" child so the best possible outcomes can be attained. Every eligible child has an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) with appropriate goals based on assessment.
HCOE has six special education teachers and one speech/language pathologist who serve pre-Kindergarten children, ages three to five, throughout Humboldt county. Children are served in homes, preschools, home childcares, and other off-site settings. Each child is evaluated to determine eligibility for special education services. If they are eligible, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed. We are proud of the dedication and passion of our itinerant teachers and their efforts to ensure that each child is as ready as he or she is able for transition to Kindergarten.
Special Day Classes
Special Beginnings operates classrooms designed to serve young children with diagnoses of autism. One is operated jointly with Redwood Coast Regional Center under the Early Start program (see above); the others serve preschool-age children. All SDC's are located on regular elementary school campuses to facilitate inclusion with typically developing children and to develop familiarity with the sights, sounds and routines of a regular school environment.
Parents are an integral part of on-going assessment and curriculum planning. Non-school providers are welcomed into to the classrooms to observe and meet with staff to ensure that students' educational experiences transfer to other environments, and strategies and expectations are coordinated and consistent.