Inland Regional Center Launches Specialized Preschool Units for Children Ages 3-6, Aiming to Provide Education and Support to Families
Inland Regional Center (IRC) has launched four (4) specialized Preschool Units for children ages 3-6, funded by Assembly Bill 188 (AB 188). These units, two (2) in San Bernardino and two (2) in Riverside County, are designed to have a lower caseload ratio. Once the process is completed, the Preschool units will have a 1:40 caseload ratio, allowing the Preschool Service Coordinators to provide resources and information to families of eligible children at age three and establish a connection with the child’s local school district when they are ready to enroll.
Katie Lee, Program Manager Riverside Preschool Age East, indicates, “the 1:40 case ratio works well because it allows Preschool Service Coordinators to provide individualized attention to each child and their family, ensuring their unique needs are met. Preschool Service Coordinators will work with families to identify their child’s strengths and weaknesses and provide them with the necessary resources to help their child succeed.”
According to the Director of Children and Transitions Services at IRC, Felipe Garcia, “these units aim to provide education and support to children and families with disabilities. The Preschool Units are intended for children aged 3-6 years from the Early Start program. Children will transition back to the School Age Units at approximately five years and ten months.”
With the passage of AB 188, IRC is excited about the creation and implementation of specialized Preschool Units. This change will help the Preschool Service Coordinators focus on that age group’s unique needs to support those families better. The development of the Preschool Units has presented its own set of challenges. The agency has had to reorganize its School Age units to accommodate the new Preschool Units. IRC has designed a plan to address the efficiency of this change. Existing Consumer Service Coordinators (CSCs) from School Age units will provide coverage until enough Preschool Service Coordinators are hired. Creating these units will be a valuable addition to our case management options.
Despite these challenges, the Preschool Units are a step in the right direction for IRC. By providing children with developmental disabilities or delays with the necessary education and support at an early age, they are setting them up for success in their academic and personal lives. Furthermore, by providing families with a team of professionals to guide and support them, they are creating a community of care and support that will benefit everyone involved.
However, transitioning from the Early Start program to the Preschool Units can be challenging for families. Many parents may not fully understand the process and need to be educated from the beginning. Transitioning to the school district can also be difficult and ensuring that everyone involved understands this change is vital. This is where the Preschool Service Coordinators play a crucial role in educating and supporting families throughout the process. CSCs in the Preschool Units, called Preschool Service Coordinators, will work with families and help them understand the process from the beginning. With the creation of the Preschool units and a ratio of 1:40, Preschool Service Coordinators will provide enhanced service coordination, ensuring routine contact with consumers.
Parents have expressed some difficulty understanding the transition process from the previous model, for example, accessing the available services and resources. To facilitate the change, Preschool Service Coordinators will assist in educating parents on how the process works. For instance, with the creation of Preschool units, children will automatically transition to these units if they meet the Lanterman eligibility criteria. Cases will be more evenly distributed and highly specialized by age groups with the new Preschool units, thus allowing other units to continue providing excellent service within their reorganized caseloads.
Amy Clark, Program Manager Riverside Preschool Age West, states, “the Preschool Units are also beneficial as they provide a support system to families learning about their child’s disabilities. Parents often go through a grieving process and may not retain all the information they are given. By creating a support system, not just one person, the child can have both parents on the same page, which leads to better emotional support for the child. Even if the parent is a single parent and has a limited support system, we want the parent to know and feel they have the support they need with the Preschool Service Coordinators.”
Launching the Preschool Units by Inland Regional Center is a significant step towards providing better education and support to families learning about their loved ones’ disabilities. While there may be challenges associated with implementing the Preschool Units, the benefits to families are more significant. With the help of the Preschool Service Coordinators, families can rest assured that they will have the support they need to navigate the process and receive the information, support, and resources they need to ensure their children have a better future.
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