ESE Prekindergarten Services
Prekindergarten provides a valuable opportunity for young children. Staff help foster a love of learning, and help students adjust to a classroom environment, including being attentive and following directions. Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Prekindergarten services are provided to children from 3-5 years of age who meet the criteria for any of the following disabilities as defined by the Florida Department of Education and in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA): developmental delay, language impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, deaf or hard of hearing, dual-sensory impairment, intellectual disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, traumatic brain injury, speech impairment, visual impairment. Prekindergarten is optional and parents are not required to enroll their children into such services.
The following services are provided to children who have been evaluated and determined eligible and whose parent/guardian has granted consent for services:
- ESE prekindergarten services in a classroom setting with support from an ESE prekindergarten teacher at selected locations
- Speech therapy
- Language therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
How to Access Services
If your child has an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and is currently not enrolled in a school in Polk County, take a copy of the IEP to the elementary school in your zone.
If your child does not have an IEP and you suspect he/she may have a disability, call Child Find at 863-535-6486.
If I feel my child has some delays, what is my first step in getting them screened and evaluated?
Contact Child Find at 863-535-6486. They will take your information and give you an appointment for a screening. This is the first step in determining if your child may need a formal evaluation.
What’s the difference between a screening and an evaluation?
A screening determines whether a child has an area of potential delay (or concern) in any of a variety of areas. It also determines the likelihood that they will or will not pass an evaluation.
An evaluation is a more lengthy process involving standardized testing procedures that specify a developmental delay, such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, speech or language delays, and vision or hearing impairment, just to name a few.
What should I bring to the evaluation appointment?
You will be mailed a Social History form. Please complete it and bring it with you to the evaluation appointment. If your child wears glasses, a hearing aid, or another assistive device, it is important to bring the device to the evaluation with the child. Also bring any evaluations, reports, or findings done privately. Each adult attending the appointment will need a picture ID, by law, to be on a school campus. Please have that ready to show at the school office.
How long does it take for an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) to be developed for a prekindergarten age child?
The process for developing an IEP for a prekindergarten child is not automatic and can be lengthy. There are three major steps in the process to include:
- Child Find screening to determine where or not to refer the child for formal evaluations with the Polk County Public Schools ESE PreK department.
- Referral to Polk County Public Schools ESE PreK team for formal evaluation (if warranted), a consent meeting for evaluations, and completion of the evaluations themselves.
- Eligibility determination and staffing meeting for an IEP are then held together on the same day. The IEP is developed during this meeting.
What do I need to do to get my child into ESE PreK?
Your child must be screened by Child Find, evaluated by ESE PreK, and found eligible for services by the staffing committee. An IEP will be written outlining the services to be offered. The parent must sign consent and enroll the child in school for services to begin.
How many students are in each classroom?
Classrooms generally have approximately 12 to 14 students with a certified ESE teacher and a paraprofessional. Children are added throughout the year, and if the number exceeds this amount an additional paraprofessional is requested for the classroom.
What are my options for after-school care?
It is the responsibility of the parent to find after-school care. The school may act as a resource for options in your area.
Am I required to send my child to PreK once he/she has an IEP?
Because PreK is optional, you are not required to send your child. Sending your child to this program is done at your discretion until the child reaches the age of 6.
Can I send my child to PreK part time?
PreK ESE classrooms are designed for a full-day curriculum that follows the school’s schedule, with breakfast and lunch being provided.
Can I look at my child’s potential classroom before the IEP meeting?
Due to confidentiality issues, this is not allowed. Once your child has been found eligible and an IEP has been written, you can visit the classroom prior to enrollment.
Will my child receive individual therapies (speech, occupational, physical)?
Speech therapy is provided in small groups if indicated on the IEP. Occupational therapy and physical therapy are provided if there is an educational need to access the curriculum as indicated on the IEP.
Does the school provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy?
No, the school does not provide ABA therapy. If arranged with your child’s school, your private ABA therapist may be able to access the classroom on a limited basis during the day.
If I choose to not send my child to prekindergarten, can he/she receive the IEP services at home, preschool, or daycare?
No, the IEP services are only provided during the school day in a school setting.
Can I take my child to another school other than the zoned school?
An out-of-zone transfer must be approved by the receiving school’s principal and the ESE PreK senior manager. Transportation may not be provided for a child who attends a school outside of their zone.
Can my child with an IEP attend Head Start or the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) education program?
Students with an IEP may be eligible to attend Head Start or VPK if they qualify for the specific program, and there is an opening. Please call 863-648-3051 for additional information and specific requirements.