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Title 45Subtitle BChapter XIIISubchapter B → Part 1308

Title 45: Public Welfare



Subpart A—General

§1308.1   Purpose.
§1308.2   Scope.
§1308.3   Definitions.

Subpart B—Disabilities Service Plan

§1308.4   Purpose and scope of disabilities service plan.

Subpart C—Social Services Performance Standards

§1308.5   Recruitment and enrollment of children with disabilities.

Subpart D—Health Services Performance Standards

§1308.6   Assessment of children.
§1308.7   Eligibility criteria: Health impairment.
§1308.8   Eligibility criteria: Emotional/behavioral disorders.
§1308.9   Eligibility criteria: Speech or language impairments.
§1308.10   Eligibility criteria: Mental retardation.
§1308.11   Eligibility criteria: Hearing impairment including deafness.
§1308.12   Eligibility criteria: Orthopedic impairment.
§1308.13   Eligibility criteria: Visual impairment including blindness.
§1308.14   Eligibility criteria: Learning disabilities.
§1308.15   Eligibility criteria: Autism.
§1308.16   Eligibility criteria: Traumatic brain injury.
§1308.17   Eligibility criteria: Other impairments.
§1308.18   Disabilities/health services coordination.

Subpart E—Education Services Performance Standards

§1308.19   Developing individualized education programs (IEPs)

Subpart F—Nutrition Performance Standards

§1308.20   Nutrition services.

Subpart G—Parent Involvement Performance Standards

§1308.21   Parent participation and transition of children into Head Start and from Head Start to public school.
Appendix to Part 1308—Head Start Program Performance Standards on Services to Children With Disabilities

Authority: 42 U.S.C. 9801 et seq.

Source: 58 FR 5501, Jan. 21, 1993, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A—General

§1308.1   Purpose.

This rule sets forth the requirements for providing special services for 3- through 5-year-old children with disabilities enrolled in Head Start programs. These requirements are to be used in conjunction with the Head Start Program Performance Standards at 45 CFR part 1304. The purpose of this part is to ensure that children with disabilities enrolled in Head Start programs receive all the services to which they are entitled under the Head Start Program Performance Standards at 45 CFR part 1304, as amended.

§1308.2   Scope.

This rule applies to all Head Start grantees and delegate agencies.

§1308.3   Definitions.

As used in this part:

(a) The term ACYF means the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and includes appropriate Regional Office staff.

(b) The term children with disabilities means children with mental retardation, hearing impairments including deafness, speech or language impairments, visual impairments including blindness, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments or specific learning disabilities; and who, by reason thereof, need special education and related services. The term children with disabilities for children aged 3 to 5, inclusive, may, at a State's discretion, include children experiencing developmental delays, as defined by the State and as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development; and who, by reason thereof, need special education and related services.

(c) The term Commissioner means the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families.

(d) The term day means a calendar day.

(e) The term delegate agency means a public or private non-profit agency to which a grantee has delegated the responsibility for operating all or part of its Head Start program.

(f) The term disabilities coordinator means the person on the Head Start staff designated to manage on a full or part-time basis the services for children with disabilities described in part 1308.

(g) The term eligibility criteria means the criteria for determining that a child enrolled in Head Start requires special education and related services because of a disability.

(h) The term grantee means the public or private non-profit agency which has been granted financial assistance by ACYF to administer a Head Start program.

(i) The term individualized education program (IEP) means a written statement for a child with disabilities, developed by the public agency responsible for providing free appropriate public education to a child, and contains the special education and related services to be provided to an individual child.

(j) The term least restrictive environment means an environment in which services to children with disabilities are provided:

(1) to the maximum extent appropriate, with children who are not disabled and in which;

(2) special classes or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

(k) The term Performance Standards means the Head Start program functions, activities and facilities required and necessary to meet the objectives and goals of the Head Start program as they relate directly to children and their families.

(l) The term related services means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes speech pathology and audiology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. The term also includes school health services, social work services, and parent counseling and training. It includes other developmental, corrective or supportive services if they are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, including assistive technology services and devices.

(1) The term assistive technology device means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

(2) The term assistive technology service means any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The term includes: The evaluation of the needs of an individual with a disability; purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by individuals with disabilities; selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology devices; coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs; training or technical assistance for an individual with disabilities, or, where appropriate, the family of an individual with disabilities; and training or technical assistance to professionals who employ or provide services involved in the major life functions of individuals with disabilities.

(m) The term responsible HHS official means the official who is authorized to make the grant of assistance in question or his or her designee.

(n) The term special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents or guardians, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. These services include classroom or home-based instruction, instruction in hospitals and institutions, and specially designed physical education if necessary.

Subpart B—Disabilities Service Plan

§1308.4   Purpose and scope of disabilities service plan.

(a) A Head Start grantee, or delegate agency, if appropriate, must develop a disabilities service plan providing strategies for meeting the special needs of children with disabilities and their parents. The purposes of this plan are to assure:

(1) That all components of Head Start are appropriately involved in the integration of children with disabilities and their parents; and

(2) That resources are used efficiently.

(b) The plan must be updated annually.

(c) The plan must include provisions for children with disabilities to be included in the full range of activities and services normally provided to all Head Start children and provisions for any modifications necessary to meet the special needs of the children with disabilities.

(d) The Head Start grantee and delegate agency must use the disabilities service plan as a working document which guides all aspects of the agency's effort to serve children with disabilities. This plan must take into account the needs of the children for small group activities, for modifications of large group activities and for any individual special help.

(e) The grantee or delegate agency must designate a coordinator of services for children with disabilities (disabilities coordinator) and arrange for preparation of the disabilities service plan and of the grantee application budget line items for services for children with disabilities. The grantee or delegate must ensure that all relevant coordinators, other staff and parents are consulted.

(f) The disability service plan must contain:

(1) Procedures for timely screening;

(2) Procedures for making referrals to the LEA for evaluation to determine whether there is a need for special education and related services for a child, as early as the child's third birthday;

(3) Assurances of accessibility of facilities; and

(4) Plans to provide appropriate special furniture, equipment and materials if needed.

(g) The plan, when appropriate, must address strategies for the transition of children into Head Start from infant/toddler programs (0-3 years), as well as the transition from Head Start into the next placement. The plan must include preparation of staff and parents for the entry of children with severe disabilities into the Head Start program.

(h) The grantee or delegate agency must arrange or provide special education and related services necessary to foster the maximum development of each child's potential and to facilitate participation in the regular Head Start program unless the services are being provided by the LEA or other agency. The plan must specify the services to be provided directly by Head Start and those provided by other agencies. The grantee or delegate agency must arrange for, provide, or procure services which may include, but are not limited to special education and these related services:

(1) Audiology services, including identification of children with hearing loss and referral for medical or other professional attention; provision of needed rehabilitative services such as speech and language therapy and auditory training to make best use of remaining hearing; speech conservation; lip reading; determination of need for hearing aids and fitting of appropriate aids; and programs for prevention of hearing loss;

(2) Physical therapy to facilitate gross motor development in activities such as walking prevent or slow orthopedic problems and improve posture and conditioning;

(3) Occupational therapy to improve, develop or restore fine motor functions in activities such as using a fork or knife;

(4) Speech or language services including therapy and use of assistive devices necessary for a child to develop or improve receptive or expressive means of communication;

(5) Psychological services such as evaluation of each child's functioning and interpreting the results to staff and parents; and counseling and guidance services for staff and parents regarding disabilities;

(6) Transportation for children with disabilities to and from the program and to special clinics or other service providers when the services cannot be provided on-site. Transportation includes adapted buses equipped to accommodate wheelchairs or other such devices if required; and

(7) Assistive technology services or devices necessary to enable a child to improve functions such as vision, mobility or communication to meet the objectives in the IEP.

(i) The disabilities service plan must include options to meet the needs and take into consideration the strengths of each child based upon the IEP so that a continuum of services available from various agencies is considered.

(j) The options may include:

(1) Joint placement of children with other agencies;

(2) Shared provision of services with other agencies;

(3) Shared personnel to supervise special education services, when necessary to meet State requirements on qualifications;

(4) Administrative accommodations such as having two children share one enrollment slot when each child's IEP calls for part-time service because of their individual needs; and

(5) Any other strategies to be used to insure that special needs are met. These may include:

(i) Increased staff;

(ii) Use of volunteers; and

(iii) Use of supervised students in such fields as child development, special education, child psychology, various therapies and family services to assist the staff.

(k) The grantee must ensure that the disabilities service plan addresses grantee efforts to meet State standards for personnel serving children with disabilities by the 1994-95 program year. Special education and related services must be provided by or under the supervision of personnel meeting State qualifications by the 1994-95 program year.

(l) The disabilities service plan must include commitment to specific efforts to develop interagency agreements with the LEAs and other agencies within the grantee's service area. If no agreement can be reached, the grantee must document its efforts and inform the Regional Office. The agreements must address:

(1) Head Start participation in the public agency's Child Find plan under Part B of IDEA;

(2) Joint training of staff and parents;

(3) Procedures for referral for evaluations, IEP meetings and placement decisions;

(4) Transition;

(5) Resource sharing;

(6) Head Start commitment to provide the number of children receiving services under IEPs to the LEA for the LEA Child Count report by December 1 annually; and

(7) Any other items agreed to by both parties. Grantees must make efforts to update the agreements annually.

(m) The disabilities coordinator must work with the director in planning and budgeting of grantee funds to assure that the special needs identified in the IEP are fully met; that children most in need of an integrated placement and of special assistance are served; and that the grantee maintains the level of fiscal support to children with disabilities consistent with the Congressional mandate to meet their special needs.

(n) The grant application budget form and supplement submitted with applications for funding must reflect requests for adequate resources to implement the objectives and activities in the disability services plan and fulfill the requirements of these Performance Standards.

(o) The budget request included with the application for funding must address the implementation of the disabilities service plan. Allowable expenditures include:

(1) Salaries. Allowable expenditures include salaries of a full or part-time coordinator of services for children with disabilities (disabilities coordinator), who is essential to assure that programs have the core capability to recruit, enroll, arrange for the evaluation of children, provide or arrange for services to children with disabilities and work with Head Start coordinators and staff of other agencies which are working cooperatively with the grantee. Salaries of special education resource teachers who can augment the work of the regular teacher are an allowable expenditure.

(2) Evaluation of children. When warranted by screening or rescreening results, teacher observation or parent request, arrangements must be made for evaluation of the child's development and functioning. If, after referral for evaluation to the LEA, evaluations are not provided by the LEA, they are an allowable expenditure.

(3) Services. Program funds may be used to pay for services which include special education, related services, and summer services deemed necessary on an individual basis and to prepare for serving children with disabilities in advance of the program year.

(4) Making services accessible. Allowable costs include elimination of architectural barriers which affect the participation of children with disabilities, in conformance with 45 CFR part 84, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Program and Activities Receiving or Benefiting from Federal Financial Assistance and with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12101). The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that public accommodations including private schools and day care centers may not discriminate on the basis of disability. Physical barriers in existing facilities must be removed if removal is readily achievable (i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense). If not, alternative methods of providing the services must be offered, if those methods are readily achievable. Alterations must be accessible. When alterations to primary function areas are made, an accessible path of travel to the altered areas (and the bathrooms, telephones and drinking fountains serving that area) must be provided to the extent that the added accessibility costs are not disproportionate to the overall cost of the alterations. Program funds may be used for ramps, remodeling or modifications such as grab bars or railings. Grantees must meet new statutory and regulatory requirements that are enacted.

(5) Transportation. Transportation is a related service to be provided to children with disabilities. When transportation to the program site and to special services can be accessed from other agencies, it should be used. When it is not available, program funds are to be used to provide it. Special buses or use of taxis are allowable expenses if there are no alternatives available and they are necessary to enable a child to be served.

(6) Special Equipment and Materials. Purchase or lease of special equipment and materials for use in the program and home is an allowable program expense. Grantees must make available assistive devices necessary to make it possible for a child to move, communicate, improve functioning or address objectives which are listed in the child's IEP.

(7) Training and Technical Assistance. Increasing the abilities of staff to meet the special needs of children with disabilities is an allowable expense. Appropriate expenditures may include but are not limited to:

(i) Travel and per diem expenses for disabilities coordinators, teachers and parents to attend training and technical assistance events related to special services for children with disabilities;

(ii) The provision of substitute teaching staff to enable staff to attend training and technical assistance events;

(iii) Fees for courses specifically related to the requirements of the disabilities service plan, a child's IEP or State certification to serve children with disabilities; and

(iv) Fees and expenses for training/technical assistance consultants if such help is not available from another provider at no cost.

Subpart C—Social Services Performance Standards

§1308.5   Recruitment and enrollment of children with disabilities.

(a) The grantee or delegate agency outreach and recruitment activities must incorporate specific actions to actively locate and recruit children with disabilities.

(b) A grantee must insure that staff engaged in recruitment and enrollment of children are knowledgable about the provisions of 45 CFR part 84, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs and Activities Receiving or Benefiting from Federal Financial Assistance, and of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (42 U.S.C. 12101).

(c) A grantee must not deny placement on the basis of a disability or its severity to any child when:

(1) The parents wish to enroll the child,

(2) The child meets the Head Start age and income eligibility criteria,

(3) Head Start is an appropriate placement according to the child's IEP, and

(4) The program has space to enroll more children, even though the program has made ten percent of its enrollment opportunities available to children with disabilities. In that case children who have a disability and non-disabled children would compete for the available enrollment opportunities.

(d) The grantee must access resources and plan for placement options, such as dual placement, use of resource staff and training so that a child with a disability for whom Head Start is an appropriate placement according to the IEP is not denied enrollment because of:

(1) Staff attitudes and/or apprehensions;

(2) Inaccessibility of facilities;

(3) Need to access additional resources to serve a specific child;

(4) Unfamiliarity with a disabling condition or special equipment, such as a prosthesis; and

(5) Need for personalized special services such as feeding, suctioning, and assistance with toileting, including catheterization, diapering, and toilet training.

(e) The same policies governing Head Start program eligibility for other children, such as priority for those most in need of the services, apply to children with disabilities. Grantees also must take the following factors into account when planning enrollment procedures:

(1) The number of children with disabilities in the Head Start service area including types of disabilities and their severity;

(2) The services and resources provided by other agencies; and

(3) State laws regarding immunization of preschool children. Grantees must observe applicable State laws which usually require that children entering State preschool programs complete immunizations prior to or within thirty days after entering to reduce the spread of communicable diseases.

(f) The recruitment effort of a Head Start grantee must include recruiting children who have severe disabilities, including children who have been previously identified as having disabilities.

Subpart D—Health Services Performance Standards

§1308.6   Assessment of children.

(a) The disabilities coordinator must be involved with other program staff throughout the full process of assessment of children, which has three steps:

(1) All children enrolled in Head Start are screened as the first step in the assessment process;

(2) Staff also carry out on-going developmental assessment for all enrolled children throughout the year to determine progress and to plan program activities;

(3) Only those children who need further specialized assessment to determine whether they have a disability and may require special education and related services proceed to the next step, evaluation. The disabilities coordinator has primary responsibility for this third step, evaluation, only.

(b) Screening, the first step in the assessment process, consists of standardized health screening and developmental screening which includes speech, hearing and vision. It is a brief process, which can be repeated, and is never used to determine that a child has a disability. It only indicates that a child may need further evaluation to determine whether the child has a disability. Rescreening must be provided as needed.

(1) Grantees must provide for developmental, hearing and vision screenings of all Early Head Start and Head Start children within 45 days of the child's entry into the program. This does not preclude starting screening in the spring, before program services begin in the fall.

(2) Grantees must make concerted efforts to reach and include the most in need and hardest to reach in the screening effort, providing assistance but urging parents to complete screening before the start of the program year.

(3) Developmental screening is a brief check to identify children who need further evaluation to determine whether they may have disabilities. It provides information in three major developmental areas: visual/motor, language and cognition, and gross motor/body awareness for use along with observation data, parent reports and home visit information. When appropriate standardized developmental screening instruments exist, they must be used. The disabilities coordinator must coordinate with the health coordinator and staff who have the responsibility for implementing health screening and with the education staff who have the responsibility for implementing developmental screening.

(c) Staff must inform parents of the types and purposes of the screening well in advance of the screening, the results of these screenings and the purposes and results of any subsequent evaluations.

(d) Developmental assessment, the second step, is the collection of information on each child's functioning in these areas: gross and fine motor skills, perceptual discrimination, cognition, attention skills, self-help, social and receptive skills and expressive language. The disabilities coordinator must coordinate with the education coordinator in the on-going assessment of each Head Start child's functioning in all developmental areas by including this developmental information in later diagnostic and program planning activities for children with disabilities.

(e) The disabilities coordinator must arrange for further, formal, evaluation of a child who has been identified as possibly having a disability, the third step. (1) The disabilities coordinator must refer a child to the LEA for evaluation as soon as the need is evident, starting as early as the child's third birthday.

(2) If the LEA does not evaluate the child, Head Start is responsible for arranging or providing for an evaluation, using its own resources and accessing others. In this case, the evaluation must meet the following requirements:

(i) Testing and evaluation procedures must be selected and administered so as not to be racially or culturally discriminatory, administered in the child's native language or mode of communication, unless it clearly is not feasible to do so.

(ii) Testing and evaluation procedures must be administered by trained (State certified or licensed) personnel.

(iii) No single procedure may be the sole criterion for determining an appropriate educational program for a child.

(iv) The evaluation must be made by a multidisciplinary team or group of persons including at least one teacher or specialist with knowledge in the area of suspected disability.

(v) Evaluators must use only assessment materials which have been validated for the specific purpose for which they are used.

(vi) Tests used with children with impaired sensory, manual or communication skills must be administered so that they reflect the children's aptitudes and achievement levels and not just the disabilities.

(vii) Tests and materials must assess all areas related to the suspected disability.

(viii) In the case of a child whose primary disability appears to be a speech or language impairment, the team must assure that enough tests are used to determine that the impairment is not a symptom of another disability and a speech or language pathologist should be involved in the evaluation.

(3) Parental consent in writing must be obtained before a child can have an initial evaluation to determine whether the child has a disability.

(4) Confidentiality must be maintained in accordance with grantee and State requirements. Parents must be given the opportunity to review their child's records in a timely manner and they must be notified and give permission if additional evaluations are proposed. Grantees must explain the purpose and results of the evaluation and make concerted efforts to help the parents understand them.

(5) The multidisciplinary team provides the results of the evaluation, and its professional opinion that the child does or does not need special education and related services, to the disabilities coordinator. If it is their professional opinion that a child has a disability, the team is to state which of the eligibility criteria applies and provide recommendations for programming, along with their findings. Only children whom the evaluation team determines need special education and related services may be counted as children with disabilities.

[58 FR 5501, Jan. 21, 1993, as amended at 61 FR 57227, Nov. 5, 1996]

§1308.7   Eligibility criteria: Health impairment.

(a) A child is classified as health impaired who has limited strength, vitality or alertness due to a chronic or acute health problem which adversely affects learning.

(b) The health impairment classification may include, but is not limited to, cancer, some neurological disorders, rheumatic fever, severe asthma, uncontrolled seizure disorders, heart conditions, lead poisoning, diabetes, AIDS, blood disorders, including hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, heart disease and attention deficit disorder.

(c) This category includes medically fragile children such as ventilator dependent children who are in need of special education and related services.

(d) A child may be classified as having an attention deficit disorder under this category who has chronic and pervasive developmentally inappropriate inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. To be considered a disorder, this behavior must affect the child's functioning severely. To avoid overuse of this category, grantees are cautioned to assure that only the enrolled children who most severely manifest this behavior must be classified in this category.

(1) The condition must severely affect the performance of a child who is trying to carry out a developmentally appropriate activity that requires orienting, focusing, or maintaining attention during classroom instructions and activities, planning and completing activities, following simple directions, organizing materials for play or other activities, or participating in group activities. It also may be manifested in overactivity or impulsive acts which appear to be or are interpreted as physical aggression. The disorder must manifest itself in at least two different settings, one of which must be the Head Start program site.

(2) Children must not be classified as having attention deficit disorders based on:

(i) Temporary problems in attention due to events such as a divorce, death of a family member or post-traumatic stress reactions to events such as sexual abuse or violence in the neighborhood;

(ii) Problems in attention which occur suddenly and acutely with psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia;

(iii) Behaviors which may be caused by frustration stemming from inappropriate programming beyond the child's ability level or by developmentally inappropriate demands for long periods of inactive, passive activity;

(iv) Intentional noncompliance or opposition to reasonable requests that are typical of good preschool programs; or

(v) Inattention due to cultural or language differences.

(3) An attention deficit disorder must have had its onset in early childhood and have persisted through the course of child development when children normally mature and become able to operate in a socialized preschool environment. Because many children younger than four have difficulty orienting, maintaining and focussing attention and are highly active, when Head Start is responsible for the evaluation, attention deficit disorder applies to four and five year old children in Head Start but not to three year olds.

(4) Assessment procedures must include teacher reports which document the frequency and nature of indications of possible attention deficit disorders and describe the specific situations and events occurring just before the problems manifested themselves. Reports must indicate how the child's functioning was impaired and must be confirmed by independent information from a second observer.

§1308.8   Eligibility criteria: Emotional/behavioral disorders.

(a) An emotional/behavioral disorder is a condition in which a child's behavioral or emotional responses are so different from those of the generally accepted, age-appropriate norms of children with the same ethnic or cultural background as to result in significant impairment in social relationships, self-care, educational progress or classroom behavior. A child is classified as having an emotional/behavioral disorder who exhibits one or more of the following characteristics with such frequency, intensity, or duration as to require intervention:

(1) Seriously delayed social development including an inability to build or maintain satisfactory (age appropriate) interpersonal relationships with peers or adults (e.g., avoids playing with peers);

(2) Inappropriate behavior (e.g., dangerously aggressive towards others, self-destructive, severely withdrawn, non-communicative);

(3) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression, or evidence of excessive anxiety or fears (e.g., frequent crying episodes, constant need for reassurance); or

(4) Has a professional diagnosis of serious emotional disturbance.

(b) The eligibility decision must be based on multiple sources of data, including assessment of the child's behavior or emotional functioning in multiple settings.

(c) The evaluation process must include a review of the child's regular Head Start physical examination to eliminate the possibility of misdiagnosis due to an underlying physical condition.

§1308.9   Eligibility criteria: Speech or language impairments.

(a) A speech or language impairment means a communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, which adversely affects a child's learning.

(b) A child is classified as having a speech or language impairment whose speech is unintelligible much of the time, or who has been professionally diagnosed as having speech impairments which require intervention or who is professionally diagnosed as having a delay in development in his or her primary language which requires intervention.

(c) A language disorder may be receptive or expressive. A language disorder may be characterized by difficulty in understanding and producing language, including word meanings (semantics), the components of words (morphology), the components of sentences (syntax), or the conventions of conversation (pragmatics).

(d) A speech disorder occurs in the production of speech sounds (articulation), the loudness, pitch or quality of voice (voicing), or the rhythm of speech (fluency).

(e) A child should not be classified as having a speech or language impairment whose speech or language differences may be attributed to:

(1) Cultural, ethnic, bilingual, or dialectical differences or being non-English speaking; or

(2) Disorders of a temporary nature due to conditions such as a dental problem; or

(3) Delays in developing the ability to articulate only the most difficult consonants or blends of sounds within the broad general range for the child's age.

§1308.10   Eligibility criteria: Mental retardation.

(a) A child is classified as mentally retarded who exhibits significantly sub-average intellectual functioning and exhibits deficits in adaptive behavior which adversely affect learning. Adaptive behavior refers to age-appropriate coping with the demands of the environment through independent skills in self-care, communication and play.

(b) Measurement of adaptive behavior must reflect objective documentation through the use of an established scale and appropriate behavioral/anecdotal records. An assessment of the child's functioning must also be made in settings outside the classroom.

(c) Valid and reliable instruments appropriate to the age range must be used. If they do not exist for the language and cultural group to which the child belongs, observation and professional judgement are to be used instead.

(d) Determination that a child is mentally retarded is never to be made on the basis of any one test alone.

§1308.11   Eligibility criteria: Hearing impairment including deafness.

(a) A child is classified as deaf if a hearing impairment exists which is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, and learning is affected. A child is classified as hard of hearing who has a permanent or fluctuating hearing impairment which adversely affects learning; or

(b) Meets the legal criteria for being hard of hearing established by the State of residence; or

(c) Experiences recurrent temporary or fluctuating hearing loss caused by otitis media, allergies, or eardrum perforations and other outer or middle ear anomalies over a period of three months or more. Problems associated with temporary or fluctuating hearing loss can include impaired listening skills, delayed language development, and articulation problems. Children meeting these criteria must be referred for medical care, have their hearing checked frequently, and receive speech, language or hearing services as indicated by the IEPs. As soon as special services are no longer needed, these children must no longer be classified as having a disability.

§1308.12   Eligibility criteria: Orthopedic impairment.

(a) A child is classified as having an orthopedic impairment if the condition is severe enough to adversely affect a child's learning. An orthopedic impairment involves muscles, bones, or joints and is characterized by impaired ability to maneuver in educational or non-educational settings, to perform fine or gross motor activities, or to perform self-help skills and by adversely affected educational performance.

(b) An orthopedic impairment includes, but is not limited to, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, loss of or deformed limbs, contractures caused by burns, arthritis, or muscular dystrophy.

§1308.13   Eligibility criteria: Visual impairment including blindness.

(a) A child is classified as visually impaired when visual impairment, with correction, adversely affects a child's learning. The term includes both blind and partially seeing children. A child is visually impaired if:

(1) The vision loss meets the definition of legal blindness in the State of residence; or

(2) Central acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with corrective lenses, or visual acuity is greater than 20/200, but is accompanied by a limitation in the field of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.

(b) A child is classified as having a visual impairment if central acuity with corrective lenses is between 20/70 and 20/200 in either eye, or if visual acuity is undetermined, but there is demonstrated loss of visual function that adversely affects the learning process, including faulty muscular action, limited field of vision, cataracts, etc.

§1308.14   Eligibility criteria: Learning disabilities.

(a) A child is classified as having a learning disability who has a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak or, for preschool age children, acquire the precursor skills for reading, writing, spelling or doing mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, and aphasia.

(b) An evaluation team may recommend that a child be classified as having a learning disability if:

(1) The child does not achieve commensurate with his or her age and ability levels in one or more of the areas listed in (a) above when provided with appropriate learning experiences for the age and ability; or

(2) The child has a severe discrepancy between achievement of developmental milestones and intellectual ability in one or more of these areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, pre-reading, pre-writing and pre-mathematics; or

(3) The child shows deficits in such abilities as memory, perceptual and perceptual-motor skills, thinking, language and non-verbal activities which are not due to visual, motor, hearing or emotional disabilities, mental retardation, cultural or language factors, or lack of experiences which would help develop these skills.

(c) This definition for learning disabilities applies to four and five year old children in Head Start. It may be used at a program's discretion for children younger than four or when a three year old child is referred with a professional diagnosis of learning disability. But because of the difficulty of diagnosing learning disabilities for three year olds, when Head Start is responsible for the evaluation it is not a requirement to use this category for three year olds.

§1308.15   Eligibility criteria: Autism.

A child is classified as having autism when the child has a developmental disability that significantly affects verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction, that is generally evident before age three and that adversely affects educational performance.

§1308.16   Eligibility criteria: Traumatic brain injury.

A child is classified as having traumatic brain injury whose brain injuries are caused by an external physical force, or by an internal occurrence such as stroke or aneurysm, with resulting impairments that adversely affect educational performance. The term includes children with open or closed head injuries, but does not include children with brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative or caused by birth trauma.

§1308.17   Eligibility criteria: Other impairments.

(a) The purposes of this classification, “Other impairments,” are:

(1) To further coordination with LEAs and reduce problems of recordkeeping;

(2) To assist parents in making the transition from Head Start to other placements; and

(3) To assure that no child enrolled in Head Start is denied services which would be available to other preschool children who are considered to have disabilities in their State.

(b) If the State Education Agency eligibility criteria for preschool children include an additional category which is appropriate for a Head Start child, children meeting the criteria for that category must receive services as children with disabilities in Head Start programs. Examples are “preschool disabled,” “in need of special education,” “educationally handicapped,” and “non-categorically handicapped.”

(c) Children ages three to five, inclusive, who are experiencing developmental delays, as defined by their State and as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development, and who by reason thereof need special education and related services may receive services as children with disabilities in Head Start programs.

(d) Children who are classified as deaf-blind, whose concomitant hearing and visual impairments cause such severe communication and other developmental problems that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for deaf or blind children are eligible for services under this category.

(e) Children classified as having multiple disabilities whose concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation and blindness), in combination, cause such severe educational problems that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments are eligible for services under this category. The term does not include deaf-blind children, for recordkeeping purposes.

§1308.18   Disabilities/health services coordination.

(a) The grantee must ensure that the disabilities coordinator and the health coordinator work closely together in the assessment process and follow up to assure that the special needs of each child with disabilities are met.

(b) The grantee must ensure coordination between the disabilities coordinator and the staff person responsible for the mental health component to help teachers identify children who show signs of problems such as possible serious depression, withdrawal, anxiety or abuse.

(c) Each Head Start director or designee must supervise the administration of all medications, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, to children with disabilities in accordance with State requirements.

(d) The health coordinator under the supervision of the Head Start director or designee must:

(1) Obtain the doctor's instructions and parental consent before any medication is administered.

(2) Maintain an individual record of all medications dispensed and review the record regularly with the child's parents.

(3) Record changes in a child's behavior which have implications for drug dosage or type and share this information with the staff, parents and the physician.

(4) Assure that all medications, including those required by staff and volunteers, are adequately labeled, stored under lock and key and out of reach of children, and refrigerated, if necessary.

Subpart E—Education Services Performance Standards

§1308.19   Developing individualized education programs (IEPs)

(a) When Head Start provides for the evaluation, the multidisciplinary evaluation team makes the determination whether the child meets the Head Start eligibility criteria. The multidisciplinary evaluation team must assure that the evaluation findings and recommendations, as well as information from developmental assessment, observations and parent reports, are considered in making the determination whether the child meets Head Start eligibility criteria.

(b) Every child receiving services in Head Start who has been evaluated and found to have a disability and in need of special education must have an IEP before special education and related services are provided to ensure that comprehensive information is used to develop the child's program.

(c) When the LEA develops the IEP, a representative from Head Start must attempt to participate in the IEP meeting and placement decision for any child meeting Head Start eligibility requirements.

(d) If Head Start develops the IEP, the IEP must take into account the child's unique needs, strengths, developmental potential and the family strengths and circumstances as well as the child's disabilities.

(e) The IEP must include:

(1) A statement of the child's present level of functioning in the social-emotional, motor, communication, self-help, and cognitive areas of development, and the identification of needs in those areas requiring specific programming.

(2) A statement of annual goals, including short term objectives for meeting these goals.

(3) A statement of services to be provided by each Head Start component that are in addition to those services provided for all Head Start children, including transition services.

(4) A statement of the specific special education services to be provided to the child and those related services necessary for the child to participate in a Head Start program. This includes services provided by Head Start and services provided by other agencies and non-Head Start professionals.

(5) The identification of the personnel responsible for the planning and supervision of services and for the delivery of services.

(6) The projected dates for initiation of services and the anticipated duration of services.

(7) A statement of objective criteria and evaluation procedures for determining at least annually whether the short-term objectives are being achieved or need to be revised.

(8) Family goals and objectives related to the child's disabilities when they are essential to the child's progress.

(f) When Head Start develops the IEP, the team must include:

(1) The Head Start disabilities coordinator or a representative who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education services;

(2) The child's teacher or home visitor;

(3) One or both of the child's parents or guardians; and

(4) At least one of the professional members of the multidisciplinary team which evaluated the child.

(g) An LEA representative must be invited in writing if Head Start is initiating the request for a meeting.

(h) The grantee may also invite other individuals at the request of the parents and other individuals at the discretion of the Head Start program, including those component staff particularly involved due to the nature of the child's disability.

(i) A meeting must be held at a time convenient for the parents and staff to develop the IEP within 30 calendar days of a determination that the child needs special education and related services. Services must begin as soon as possible after the development of the IEP.

(j) Grantees and their delegates must make vigorous efforts to involve parents in the IEP process. The grantee must:

(1) Notify parents in writing and, if necessary, also verbally or by other appropriate means of the purpose, attendees, time and location of the IEP meeting far enough in advance so that there is opportunity for them to participate;

(2) Make every effort to assure that the parents understand the purpose and proceedings and that they are encouraged to provide information about their child and their desires for the child's program;

(3) Provide interpreters, if needed, and offer the parents a copy of the IEP in the parents' language of understanding after it has been signed;

(4) Hold the meeting without the parents only if neither parent can attend, after repeated attempts to establish a date or facilitate their participation. In that case, document its efforts to secure the parents' participation, through records of phone calls, letters in the parents' native language or visits to parents' homes or places of work, along with any responses or results; and arrange an opportunity to meet with the parents to review the results of the meeting and secure their input and signature.

(k) Grantees must initiate the implementation of the IEP as soon as possible after the IEP meeting by modifying the child's program in accordance with the IEP and arranging for the provision of related services. If a child enters Head Start with an IEP completed within two months prior to entry, services must begin within the first two weeks of program attendance.

Subpart F—Nutrition Performance Standards

§1308.20   Nutrition services.

(a) The disabilities coordinator must work with staff to ensure that provisions to meet special needs are incorporated into the nutrition program.

(b) Appropriate professionals, such as physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists or dietitians must be consulted on ways to assist Head Start staff and parents of children with severe disabilities with problems of chewing, swallowing and feeding themselves.

(c) The plan for services for children with disabilities must include activities to help children with disabilities participate in meal and snack times with classmates.

(d) The plan for services for children with disabilities must address prevention of disabilities with a nutrition basis.

Subpart G—Parent Involvement Performance Standards

§1308.21   Parent participation and transition of children into Head Start and from Head Start to public school.

(a) In addition to the many references to working with parents throughout these standards, the staff must carry out the following tasks:

(1) Support parents of children with disabilities entering from infant/toddler programs.

(2) Provide information to parents on how to foster the development of their child with disabilities.

(3) Provide opportunities for parents to observe large group, small group and individual activities describe in their child's IEP.

(4) Provide follow-up assistance and activities to reinforce program activities at home.

(5) Refer parents to groups of parents of children with similar disabilities who can provide helpful peer support.

(6) Inform parents of their rights under IDEA.

(7) Inform parents of resources which may be available to them from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program, the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) Program and other sources and assist them with initial efforts to access such resources.

(8) Identify needs (caused by the disability) of siblings and other family members.

(9) Provide information in order to prevent disabilities among younger siblings.

(10) build parent confidence, skill and knowledge in accessing resources and advocating to meet the special needs of their children.

(b) Grantees must plan to assist parents in the transition of children from Head Start to public school or other placement, beginning early in the program year.

(c) Head Start grantees, in cooperation with the child's parents, must notify the school of the child's planned enrollment prior to the date of enrollment.

Appendix to Part 1308—Head Start Program Performance Standards on Services to Children With Disabilities

This appendix sets forth guidance for the implementation of the requirements in part 1308. This guidance provides explanatory material and includes recommendations and suggestions for meeting the requirements. This guidance is not binding on Head Start grantees or delegate agencies. It provides assistance and possible strategies which a grantee may wish to consider. In instances where a permissible course of action is provided, the grantee or delegate agency may rely upon this guidance or may take another course of action that meets the applicable requirement. This programmatic guidance is included as an aid to grantees because of the complexity of providing special services to meet the needs of children with various disabilities.

Section 1308.4   Purpose and scope of disabilities service plan

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

In order to develop an effective disabilities service plan the responsible staff members need to understand the context in which a grantee operates. The Head Start program has operated under a Congressional mandate, since 1972, to make available, at a minimum, ten percent of its enrollment opportunities to children with disabilities. Head Start has exceeded this mandate and serves children in integrated, developmentally appropriate programs. The passage of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, formerly the Education of the Handicapped Act, and its amendments, affects Head Start, causing a shift in the nature of Head Start's responsibilities for providing services for children with disabilities relative to the responsibilities of State Education Agencies (SEA) and Local Education Agencies (LEA).

Grantees need to be aware that under the IDEA the State Education Agency has the responsibility for assuring the availability of a free appropriate public education for all children with disabilities within the legally required age range in the State. This responsibility includes general supervision of educational programs in all agencies, including monitoring and evaluating the special education and related services to insure that they meet State standards, developing a comprehensive State plan for services for children with disabilities (including a description of interagency coordination among these agencies), and providing a Comprehensive System for Personnel Development related to training needs of all special education and related service personnel involved in the education of children with disabilities served by these agencies, including Head Start programs.

Each State has in effect under IDEA a policy assuring all children with disabilities beginning at least at age three, including those in public or private institutions or other care facilities, the right to a free appropriate education and to an evaluation meeting established procedures. Head Start is either:

  The agency through which the Local Education Agency can meet its obligation to make a free appropriate public education available through a contract, State or local collaborative agreement, or other arrangement; or

  The agency in which the family chooses to have the child served rather than using LEA services.

Regardless of how a child is placed in Head Start, the LEA is responsible for the identification, evaluation and provision of a free appropriate public education for a child found to be in need of special education and related services which are mandated in the State. The LEA is responsible for ensuring that these services are provided, but not for providing them all. IDEA stresses the role of multiple agencies and requires their maintenance of effort.

The Head Start responsibility is to make available directly or in cooperation with other agencies services in the least restrictive environment in accordance with an individualized education program (IEP) for at least ten percent of enrolled children who meet the disabilities eligibility criteria. In addition, Head Start continues to provide or arrange for the full range of health, dental, nutritional, developmental, parent involvement and social services provided to all enrolled children. Head Start has a mandate to recruit and enroll income-eligible children and children with disabilities who are most in need of services and to coordinate with the LEA and other groups to benefit children with disabilities and their families. Serving children with disabilities has strengthened Head Start's ability to individualize for all children. Head Start is fully committed to the maintenance of effort as required for all agencies by the IDEA and by the Head Start Act (Section 640(a)(2)(A)). Head Start is committed to fiscal support to assure that the services which children with disabilities need to meet their special needs will be provided in full, either directly or by a combination of Head Start funds and other resources.

These Head Start regulations facilitate coordination with the IDEA by utilizing identical terms for eligibility criteria for the most part. However, Head Start has elected to use the term “emotional/behavioral disorder” in lieu of “serious emotional disturbance,” which is used in the IDEA, in response to comments and concerns of parents and professionals. Children who meet State-developed criteria under IDEA will be eligible for services from Head Start in that State.

In order to organize activities and resources to help children with disabilities overcome or lessen their disabilities and develop their potential, it is essential to involve the education, health, social services, parent involvement, mental health and nutrition components of Head Start. Parents, staff and policy group members should discuss the various strategies for ensuring that the disabilities service plan integrates needs and activities which cut across the Head Start component areas before the plan is completed.

Advance planning and scheduling of arrangements with other agencies is a key factor in assuring timely, efficient services. Local level interagency agreements can greatly facilitate the difficult tasks of locating related service providers, for example, and joint community screening programs can reduce delays and costs to each of the participating agencies.

Guidance for Paragraph (b)

The plan and the annual updates need to be specific, but not lengthy. As changes occur in the community, the plan needs to reflect the changes which affect services.

Guidance for Paragraph (c)

Grantees should ensure that the practices they use to provide special services do not result in undue attention to a child with a disability. For example, providing names and schedules of special services for children with disabilities in the classroom is useful for staff or volunteers coming into that classroom but posting them would publicize the disability of the individual children.

Guidance for Paragraph (d)

Staff should work for the children's greater independence by encouraging them to try new things and to meet appropriate goals by small steps. Grantees should help children with disabilities develop initiative by including them in opportunities to explore, to create, and to ask rather than to answer questions. The children need opportunities to use a wide variety of materials including science tools, art media and costumes in order to develop skills, imagination and originality. They should be included on field trips, as their experience may have been limited, for example, by an orthopedic impairment.

Just as a program makes available pictures and books showing children and adults from representative cultural, ethnic and occupational groups, it should provide pictures and books which show children and adults with disabilities, including those in active roles.

Staff should plan to answer questions children and adults may have about disabilities. This promotes acceptance of a child with disabilities for him or herself and leads to treating the child more normally. Effective curricula are available at low cost for helping children and adults understand disabilities and for improving attitudes and increasing knowledge about disabilities. Information on these and other materials can be obtained from resource access projects contractors, which offer training and technical assistance to Head Start programs.

There are a number of useful guides for including children with disabilities in regular group activities while providing successful experiences for children who differ widely in developmental levels and skills. Some of these describe activities around a unit theme with suggestions for activities suitable for children with different skill levels. Staff need to help some children with disabilities move into developmentally appropriate play with other children.

Research has shown the effectiveness of work in small groups for appropriately selected children with disabilities. This plan allows for coordinating efforts to meet the needs of individual children as listed in their IEPs and can help focus resources efficiently.

If a deaf child who uses or needs sign language or another communication mode is enrolled, a parent, volunteer or aide who can use that mode of communication should be provided to help the child benefit from the program.

In order to build the language and speech capabilities of many children with disabilities who have communication problems, it has been found helpful to enlist aides, volunteers, cooks, bus drivers and parents, showing them how to provide extra repetition and model gradually more advanced language as children improve in their ability to understand and use language. Small group activities for children with similar language development needs should be provided regularly as well as large group language and listening games and individual help. Helping children with intellectual delays or emotional problems or those whose experiences have been limited by other disabilities to express their own ideas and to communicate during play and throughout the daily activities is motivating and can contribute greatly to their progress.

Guidance for Paragraph (e)

The Disabilities Service Coordinator should possess a basic understanding of the scope of the Head Start effort and skills adequate to manage the agency to serve children with disabilities including coordination with other program components and community agencies and work with parents.

Guidance for Paragraph (f)

For non-verbal children, communication boards, computers and other assistive technology devices may be helpful. Technical assistance providers have information on the Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988, 29 U.S.C. 2201 et seq. States are funded through this legislation to plan Statewide assistive technology services, which should include services for young children. Parents should be helped to understand the necessity of including assistive technology services and devices in their child's IEP in order to obtain them.

The plan should include any renovation of space and facilities which may be necessary to ensure the safety of the children or promote learning. For example, rugs or other sound-absorbing surfaces make it easier for some children to hear stories or conversation. Different surfaces on floors and play areas affect some children's mobility.

45 CFR Part 84, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs and Activities Receiving or Benefiting from Federal Financial Assistance which implements the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act require that all Federally assisted programs, including Head Start, be accessible to persons with disabilities including staff, parents and children. This does not mean that every building or part of a building must be physically accessible, but the program services as a whole must be accessible. Structural changes to make the program services available are required if alternatives such as reassignment of classes or moving to different rooms are not possible. Information on the accessibility standards is available from RAPs or the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Coordination and Review Section, P.O. Box 66118, Washington, DC 20035-6115.

Staff should ensure that children with physical disabilities have chairs and other pieces of furniture of the correct size and type for their individual needs as they grow. Agencies such as United Cerebral Palsy, Easter Seal Societies or SEAs can provide consultation on adapting or purchasing the appropriate furniture. The correct positioning of certain children is essential and requires expert advice. As the children grow, the furniture and equipment should be checked by an expert, such as a physical therapist, because the wrong fit can be harmful. Efforts should be made to use furniture sized and shaped to place children at the same level as their classmates whenever possible.

Guidance for Paragraph (h)

The plan should specify:

  Overall goals of the disability effort.

  Specific objectives and activities of the disability effort.

  How and when specific activities will be carried out and goals attained.

  Who will be responsible for the conduct of each element of the plan.

  How individual activities will be evaluated.

The plan should address:

  Enrollment information, including numbers of children and types of disabilities, known and estimated.

  Identification and recruitment of children with disabilities. Participation in Child Find and list of major specialized agencies approached.


  Developmental Assessment.


  The multidisciplinary team and its work.

  The process for developing IEPs.

  The provision of program services and related services.

  Program accessibility.

  Recordkeeping and reporting.

  Confidentiality of information.

  Any special safety needs.



  The process for identifying and meeting training and technical assistance needs.

  Special parent involvement needs.

  Planned actions to increase the ability of staff to serve children with more severe disabilities and the number of children with more severe disabilities served.

  Transitioning of children in and out to the next program.

Particular attention should be given to addressing ways to:

  Involve parents throughout the disability effort, and

  Work with other agencies in serving children with disabilities. It should be possible for a reader to visualize how and by whom services will be delivered. Coordination with other agencies should be described, as well as the process for developing local agreements with other agencies. The RAPs can provide samples and models for the process of developing agreements with LEAs.

Guidance for Paragraph (j)

Children may spend part of the program hours in Head Start for a mainstreaming experience and part in a specialized program such as an Easter Seal Society or a local mental health center. The amount of time spent in either program should be flexible, according to the needs of the individual child. All services to be provided, including those provided by collaborating agencies, should be described in the IEP. Staff of both programs should observe each other's work with the child who is enrolled and maintain good communication.

Individual services such as occupational, physical or speech therapy, staff training, transportation, services to families or counseling may be shared by Head Start and other agencies. For example, Head Start might provide equipment and transportation while a development center might provide a facility and physical therapy for a Head Start child. Some LEAs provide resource teachers while Head Start provides a developmentally appropriate program in an integrated setting.

Hiring additional staff may be necessary to meet the needs of children with severe disabilities. Hiring an aide may be necessary on a full-time, part-time, temporary or as needed basis to assist with the increased demands of a child with a severe disability. However, aides should not be assigned the major responsibility for providing direct services. Aides and volunteers should be guided and supervised by the disabilities service coordinator or someone with special training. It is desirable to have the services of a nurse, physical therapist or licensed practical nurse available for children with severe health or physical disabilities.

Volunteers trained by professionals to work specifically with children with disabilities can provide valuable individualized support. For example, a volunteer might be trained by a physical therapist to carry out specific follow-up activities with individual children.

Guidance for Paragraph (k)

State standards for qualifications of staff to provide special education and related services affect Head Start's acceptance as a placement site for children who have been evaluated by an LEA. Head Start grantees, like LEAs, are affected by shortages of staff meeting State qualifications and are to work toward the goal of meeting the highest State standards for personnel by developing plans to train current staff and to hire new staff so that eventually the staff will meet the qualifications. Grantees should discuss their needs for pre-service and in-service training with SEAs during annual updates of interagency agreements for use in the planning of joint State level conferences and for use in preparation of Comprehensive State Personnel Development plans. They should also discuss these needs with LEAs which provide in-service training.

The program should provide training for the regular teachers on how to modify large group, small group or individual activities to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Specific training for staff should be provided when Head Start enrolls a child whose disability or condition requires a special skill or knowledge of special techniques or equipment. Examples are structuring a language activity, performing intermittent nonsterile catheterization, changing collection bags, suctioning, or operating leg braces. Joint training with other agencies is recommended to stretch resources and exchange expertise.

Staff should have access to regular ongoing training events which keep them abreast of new materials, equipment and practices related to serving children with disabilities and to preventing disabilities. Ongoing training and technical assistance in support of the disabilities effort should be planned to complement other training available to meet staff needs. Each grantee has the responsibility to identify or arrange the necessary support to carry out training for parents and staff.

The best use of training funds has resulted when programs carry out a staff training needs assessment and relate current year training plans to previous staff training with the goal of building core capability. Staff who receive special training should share new knowledge with the rest of the staff.

The core capability of the program is enhanced when speech, language and other therapy is provided in the regular site whenever possible. This allows for the specialist to demonstrate to regular staff and plan for their follow through. It also reduces costs and time spent transporting children to clinics and other settings. When university graduate students are utilized to provide special services as part of their training, it is helpful to arrange for their supervisors to monitor their work. Grantees arranging for such assistance are providing a valuable internship site and it is to the university's advantage to have their students become familiar with programs on-site. Grantees should negotiate when developing interagency agreements to have services provided on-site to the greatest extent possible.

The Head Start Act, Section 648 (42 U.S.C. 9843) (a)(2), calls for training and technical assistance to be offered to all Head Start programs with respect to services for children with disabilities without cost through resource access projects which serve each region of the country. The technical assistance contractors contact each grantee for a needs assessment and offer training. While their staffs are small and their budgets limited, they are experienced and committed to meeting as many needs as they can and welcome inquiries. A brochure with names and addresses of the technical assistance providers is available from ACYF/HS, P.O. Box 1182, Washington, DC 20013.

The SEA is responsible for developing a Comprehensive System of Personnel Development. It is important that Head Start training needs be conveyed to this group for planning purposes so that all available resources can be brought to bear for staff training in Head Start. Grantees should take advantage of free or low-cost training provided by SEAs, LEAs, community colleges and other agencies to augment staff training.

Many agencies offer free training for staff and parents. An example is the Epilepsy Foundation of America with trained volunteers throughout the country. The Lighthouse of New York City has developed a training program on early childhood and vision which was field-tested in Head Start and is suitable for community agencies. Head Start and the American Optometric Association have signed a memorandum of understanding under which member optometrists offer eye health education and screening. State-funded adult education and training programs or community colleges make available parenting, child development and other courses at low or no cost. Grantees should consider the need for training in working with parents, in developing working collaborative relationships and in networking when planning training.

The disabilities coordinator needs to work closely with the education and health coordinators to provide or arrange training for staff and parents early in each program year on the prevention of disabilities. This should include the importance of observing signs that some children may have mild or fluctuating hearing losses due to middle ear infections. Such losses are often undetected and can cause problems in learning speech and language. Many children with hearing losses benefit from amplification and auditory training in how to use their remaining hearing most efficiently.

The disabilities coordinator should also work with the education coordinator to provide timely staff training on recognizing signs that some children may be at high risk for later learning problems as well as emotional problems resulting from failure and frustration. This training should address ways to help children develop the skills necessary for later academic learning, such as following directions calling for more than one action, sequencing, sustaining attention, and making auditory and visual discriminations.

Guidance for Paragraph (l)

The RAPS can provide information on agreements which have been developed between Head Start and SEAs and between Head Start and LEAs and other agencies. Such agreements offer possibilities to share training, equipment and other resources, smoothing the transition from Head Start to public or private school for children and their parents. Some of these agreements specify cost- and resource-sharing practices. Tribal Government Head Start programs should maximize use of Bureau of Indian Affairs, LEA and Head Start funds through cooperative agreements. Indian grantees should contact ACYF for referral to technical assistance in this regard. Grantees should bear in mind that migrant children are served in the majority of States and include consideration of their special needs, including the necessity for rapid provision of special education and related services, in agreements with LEAs and other agencies.

Guidance for Paragraph (m)

In developing the plan and the budget which is a part of the grant application process, it is important to budget adequately for the number of children with disabilities to be served and the types and severity of their disabilities. The budget should reflect resources available from other agencies as well as the special costs to be paid for from Head Start funds. The Head Start legislation requires Head Start to access resources to meet the needs of all the children enrolled, including those with disabilities.

An effective plan calls for the careful use of funds. The Disabilities Services Coordinator needs to keep current with the provisions of Part B of the IDEA and the services which may be available for three through five year-old children under this Act. Coordinators also need to utilize the expanded services under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) program and Supplemental Security Income program.

To assist in the development of the plan, it may be helpful to establish an advisory committee for the disability effort or to expand the scope of the health advisory committee.

Guidance for Paragraph (o)

Examples of evaluation costs which can be covered include professional assessment by the multidisciplinary evaluation team, instruments, professional observation and professional consultation. If consultation fees for multidisciplinary evaluation team members to participate in IEP meetings are not available from another source, they are allowable expenditures and need to be provided to meet the performance standards.

Many children with disabilities enrolled in Head Start already receive services from other agencies, and grantees should encourage these agencies to continue to provide services. Grantees should use other community agencies and resources to supplement services for children with disabilities and their families.

By planning ahead, grantees can pool resources to schedule the periodic use of experts and consultants. Grantees can time-share, reducing travel charges and assuring the availability of scarce expertise. Some LEAs and other agencies have enabling legislation and funds to contract for education, health, and developmental services of the type Head Start can provide. Grantees can also help increase the amount of preschool funding available to their State under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. The amount of the allocation to each SEA and to the public schools is affected by the number of three through five year old children with IEPs in place by December 1 of each year. By establishing good working relationships with State Public Health personnel and including them on advisory committees, health resources can be more easily utilized.

It may be helpful to explore the possibility of a cooperative agreement with the public school system to provide transportation. If the lack of transportation would prevent a child with disabilities from participating in Head Start, program funds are to be used to provide this related service before a delay occurs which would have a negative effect on the child's progress. The major emphasis is on providing the needed special help so that the child can develop to the maximum during the brief time in Head Start.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12101) requires that new buses (ordered after August 26, 1990) by public bus systems must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. New over-the-road buses ordered by privately operated bus and van companies (on or after July 26, 1996 or July 26, 1997 for small companies) must be accessible. Other new vehicles, such as vans, must be accessible, unless the transportation company provides service to individuals with disabilities that is equivalent to that operated for the general public. The Justice Department enforces these requirements.

Efforts should be made to obtain expensive items such as wheelchairs or audiometers through resources such as Title V (formerly Crippled Children's Services). Cooperative arrangements can be made with LEAs and other agencies to share equipment such as tympanometers. Special equipment such as hearing aids may be obtained through EPSDT or from SSI funds for those children who have been found eligible. Some States have established libraries of assistive technology devices and rosters of expert consultants.

Section 1308.5   Recruitment and Enrollment of Children With Disabilities

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

Head Start can play an important role in Child Find by helping to locate children in need and hardest to reach, such as immigrants and non-English speakers. In cooperation with other community groups and agencies serving children with disabilities, Head Start programs should incorporate in their outreach and recruitment procedures efforts to identify and enroll children with disabilities who meet eligibility requirements and whose parents desire the child's participation.

Integrating children with severe disabilities for whom Head Start is an appropriate placement is a goal of ACYF. Grantees should bear in mind that 45 CFR part 84, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs and Activities Receiving or Benefiting from Federal Financial Assistance or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (20 U.S.C. 794) states that any program receiving Federal funds may not deny admission to a child solely on the basis of the nature or extent of a disabling condition and shall take into account the needs of the child in determining the aid, benefits, or services to be provided. Many children who appear to have serious impairments are nevertheless able to make greater gains in an integrated setting than in a segregated classroom for children with disabilities.

The key factor in selecting an appropriate placement is the IEP. The need of the individual child and the ability of the child to benefit are determining factors. Likewise, the amount of time per day or week to be spent in the regular setting and/or in other settings is determined by the IEP. The IEP of a child with a severe emotional/behavioral disorder, for example, might realistically call for less than full day attendance or for dual placement. Another factor to consider is that according to the PIR, the majority of children with severe impairments are provided special services by both Head State staff and staff of other agencies, sharing the responsibility. Many grantees have successfully served children with moderate and severe disabilities.

The disabilities coordinator's responsibility includes providing current names of appropriate specialized agencies serving young children with disabilities and the names of LEA Child Find contact persons to the director to facilitate joint identification of children with disabilities. It also includes learning what resources other agencies have available and the eligibility criteria for support from State agencies, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Title V, Maternal and Child Health Block Grants, Title XIX (EPSDT/Medicaid), Migrant Health Centers, Developmental Disabilities programs, Bureau of Indian Affairs, third party payers such as insurance companies and other sources.

Grantees need to develop lists of appropriate referral sources. These include hospital child life programs, SSI, early intervention programs funded by Part H of the IDEA or other sources, EPSDT providers, infant stimulation programs, Easter Seal and United Cerebral Palsy agencies, mental health agencies, Association for Retarded Citizens chapters, Developmental Disabilities Planning Councils, Protection and Advocacy Systems, University Affiliated Programs, the LEA Child Find, and the medical community.

Head Start programs are encouraged to increase the visibility of the Head Start mainstreaming effort within the community by:

  Including community child service providers on policy council health and disability advisory boards and in other relevant Head Start activities.

  Making presentations on Head Start mainstreaming experiences at local, State and Regional meetings and conferences, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Council for Exceptional Children, and the Association for the Care of Children's Health.

  Participating in interagency planning activities for preschool infant and toddler programs such as the State Interagency Coordinating Councils supported under the IDEA.

Guidance for Paragraph (b)

Grantees should maintain records of outreach, recruitment, and service activities for children with disabilities and their families.

Each grantee should develop a policy on what types of information are to be included in a comprehensive file for each disabled child. The policy should outline the locations where a copy of each record will be sent. For example, while a comprehensive file will be maintained at the Head Start program central office (where the disability services coordinator and component coordinators may be based), a teacher must have access to a child's IEP and progress notes in order to plan effectively. Confidentiality needs to be maintained in a manner which allows for access to information by appropriate staff while meeting applicable Head Start and State requirements.

Guidance for Paragraph (d)

Staff should assist families who need help in obtaining immunizations before the program year begins, bearing in mind that a goal of parent involvement and social service activities is to encourage independence and develop skills in meeting timelines when seeking services for children. Care should be taken that children are not denied enrollment, but that their families receive the necessary assistance to meet entrance requirements. “Healthy Young Children: A Manual for Programs,” (a cooperative effort of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, the American Academy of Pediatrics; the Division of Maternal and Child Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Georgetown University Child Development Center; Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1988, copyright, NAEYC) contains best practice guidance.

Section 1308.6   Assessment of Children

Guidance for Paragraph (b)

Early screening is essential because of the time required for the steps necessary before special services can begin. It has been very difficult for some grantees to complete health screenings in a timely manner for several reasons including the lack of resources, especially in rural areas; the need to rely on donated services from agencies whose schedules have been especially overloaded during September and October after the start of the Head Start program year; lack of summer staff in most programs; and the difficulty in reaching some families. Lack of coordination among agencies with legislative responsibility for identifying children with disabilities has resulted in duplication and unacceptable delays in providing required services for many grantees. Other grantees, however, have demonstrated the ability to complete screenings early in the program year without difficulty. Many programs already complete screening by 45 days after the first day of program operation. Some participate in spring or summer screening programs in their areas before the fall opening. Grantees are encouraged to schedule well in advance with clinics and with such providers as EPSDT and the Indian Health Service for timely screening and any subsequent evaluations that may be needed.

Recently, a number of legislative and legal requirements have increased the resources available for the screening and evaluation of children. Title XIX, EPDST/Medicaid, has new requirements for screening and evaluation, as well as treatment; the Social Security Administration has modified eligibility requirements for children with disabilities so that more services will be available; and all States have assured that services will be provided from at least age three under IDEA so that LEAs in more States will be engaged in identifying and evaluating children from birth to age six.

In response to these changes, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education, through the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council, have developed a cooperative agreement for coordinated screening. Head Start is one of the participating agencies which will work together to plan and implement community screenings, assisting the LEAs which have the major responsibility for identifying every child with a disability under the IDEA. In addition, programs may elect to make some summer staff available for activities to close out program work in the spring and prepare for the fall.

These developments make timely screening feasible. They also make it possible to expedite immunizations. State-of-the-art coordinated screening programs make immunizations available.

This coordination can focus staff energy on assisting families to have their children immunized during the screening phase rather than making repeated follow-up efforts after the program for children has begun. Coordinated screening also provides an excellent parent education opportunity. Information on child development, realistic expectations for preschoolers and such services as WIC can be provided during the screening. Some communities have combined screening with well-received health fairs.

The staff should be involved in the planning of screening to assure that screening requirements are selected or adapted with the specific Head Start population and goals of the screening process in mind. Instruments with age-appropriate norms should be used. Children should be screened in their native language. Universities, civic organizations or organizations to aid recent immigrants may be able to locate native speakers to assist. The RAPs can provide information on the characteristics of screening instruments.

Current best practice indicates that individual pure tone audiometry be used as the first part of a screening program with children as young as three. The purpose is to identify children with hearing impairments that interfere with, or have the potential to interfere with communication. The recommended procedure is audiometric screening at 20 dB HL (re ANSI-1969) at the frequencies of 1000, 2000, and 4000 Hz, (and at 500 Hz unless acoustic immittance audiometry is included as the second part of the screening program and if the noise level in the room permits testing at that frequency.) Acoustic immittance audiometry (or impedance audiometry) is recommended as the second part of the program to identify children who have middle-ear disorders.

The audiometric screening program should be conducted or supervised by an audiologist. Nonprofessional support staff have successfully carried out audiometric screening with appropriate training and supervision.

When a child fails the initial screening, an audiometric rescreening should be administered the same day or no later than within 2 weeks. A child who fails the rescreening should be referred for an evaluation by an audiologist.

Current best practice calls for annual hearing tests. Frequent rescreening is needed for children with recurrent ear infections. Grantees who contract or arrange for hearing testing should check to assure that the testing covers the three specified frequencies and that other quality features are present. Speech, hearing and language problems are the most widespread disabilities in preschool programs and quality testing is vital for early detection and remediation.

Playing listening games prior to testing and getting use to earphones can help children learn to respond to a tone and improve the quality of the testing.

Some grantees have found it strengthens the skills of their staff to have all members learn to do developmental screening. This can be a valuable in-service activity especially for teachers. State requirements for qualifications should be checked and non-professional screeners should be trained.

Some programs have involved trained students from schools of nursing, child development or special education graduate students, or medical students who must carry out screening work as part of their required experience.

Guidance for Paragraph (d)

Parents should be provided assistance if necessary, so that they can participate in the developmental assessment.

Grantees should offer parents assistance in understanding the implications of developmental assessments as well as medical, dental or other conditions which can affect their child's development and learning.

Development assessment is an ongoing process and information from observations in the Head Start center and at home should be recorded periodically and updated in each developmental area in order to document progress and plan activities.

Disabilities coordinators, as well as education staff, need to be thoroughly familiar with developmental assessment activities such as objective observation, time sampling and obtaining parent information and the use of formal assessment instruments. Knowledge of normal child development and understanding of the culture of the child are also important.

Guidance for Paragraph (e)

While the LEA is responsible for assuring that each child who is referred is evaluated in accordance with the provisions of IDEA and usually provides the evaluation, grantees may sometimes provide for the evaluation. In that event, grantees need to assure that evaluation specialists in appropriate areas such as psychology, special education, speech pathology and physical therapy coordinate their activities so that the child's total functioning is considered and the team's findings and recommendations are integrated.

Grantees should select members of the multidisciplinary evaluation team who are familiar with the specific Head Start population, taking into account the age of the children and their cultural and ethnic background as they relate to the overall diagnostic process and the use of specific tests.

Grantees should be certain that team members understand that Head Start programs are funded to provide preschool developmental experiences for all eligible children, some of whom also need special education and related services. The intent of the evaluation procedures is to provide information to identify children who have disabling conditions so they can receive appropriate assistance. It is also the intent to avoid mislabeling children for whom basic Head Start programming is designed and who may show developmental delays which can be overcome by a regular comprehensive program meeting the Head Start Performance Standards.

When a grantee provides for the evaluation of a child, it is important that the Head Start eligibility criteria be explained to the evaluation team members and that they be informed as to how the results will be used.

Grantees should require specific findings in writing from the evaluation team, and recommendations for intervention when the team believes the child has a disability. The findings will be used in developing the child's IEP to ensure that parents, teachers and others can best work with the child. Some grantees have obtained useful functional information by asking team members to complete a brief form describing the child's strengths and weaknesses and the effects of the disability along with suggestions for special equipment, treatment or services. The evaluators should be asked in advance to provide their findings promptly in easily understood terms. They should provide separate findings and, when they agree, consensus professional opinions. When planning in advance for evaluation services from other agencies, grantees should try to obtain agreements on prompt timing for delivery of reports which are necessary to plan services.

To assist the evaluation team, Head Start should provide the child's screening results, pertinent observations, and the results of any developmental assessment information which may be available.

It is important that programs ensure that no individual child or family is labeled, mislabeled, or stigmatized with reference to a disabling condition. Head Start must exercise care to ensure that no child is misidentified because of economic circumstances, ethnic or cultural factors or developmental lags not caused by a disability, bilingual or dialectical differences, or because of being non-English speaking.

If Head Start is arranging for the evaluation, it is important to understand that a child whose problem has been corrected (e.g., a child wearing glasses whose vision is corrected and who does not need special education and related services) does not qualify as a child with a disability. A short-term medical problem such as post-operative recovery or a problem requiring only medical care and health monitoring when the evaluation specialists have not stated that special education and related services are needed does not qualify as a disability.

The evaluation team should include consideration of the way the disability affects the child's ability to function as well as the cause of the condition.

Some children may have a recent evaluation from a clinic, hospital or other agency (other than the LEAs) prior to enrolling in Head Start. If that evaluation did not include needed functional information or a professional opinion as to whether the child meets one of the Head Start eligibility criteria, the grantee should contact the agency to try to obtain that information.

Some children, prior to enrolling in Head Start, already have been diagnosed as having severe disabilities and a serious need for services. Some of these children already may be receiving some special assistance from other agencies for their disabilities but lack developmental services in a setting with other children. Head Start programs may best meet their needs by serving them jointly, i.e., providing developmental services while disability services are provided from another source. It is important in such situations that regular communication take place between the two sites.

Beginning in 1990, State EPSDT/Medicaid programs must, by law, evaluate and provide services for young children whose families meet eligibility criteria at 133 percent of the poverty levels. This is a resource for Head Start and it is important to become aware of EPSDT provisions.

Section 1308.7   Eligibility Criteria: Health Impairment Guidance

Guidance for Paragraph (c)

Many health impairments manifest themselves in other disabling conditions. Because of this, particular care should be taken when classifying a health impaired child.

Guidance for Paragraph (b)

Because AIDS is a health impairment, grantees will continue to enroll children with AIDS on an individual basis. Staff need to be familiar with the Head Start Information Memorandum on Enrollment in Head Start Programs of Infants and Young Children with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), AIDS Related Complex (ARC), or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) dated June 22, 1988. This guidance includes material from the Centers for Disease Control which stresses the need for a team, including a physician, to make informed decisions on enrollment on an individual basis. It provides guidance in the event that a child with disabilities presents a problem involving biting or bodily fluids. The guidance also discusses methods for control of all infectious diseases through stringent cleanliness standards and includes lists of Federal, State and national agencies and organizations that can provide additional information as more is learned. Staff should be aware that there is a high incidence of visual impairment among children with HIV and AIDS.

Guidance for Paragraph (c)

Teachers or others in the program setting are in the best position to note the following kinds of indications that a child may need to be evaluated to determine whether an attention deficit disorder exists:

(1) Inability of a child who is trying to participate in classroom activities to be able to orient attention, for example to choose an activity for free time or to attend to simple instructions;

(2) Inability to maintain attention, as in trying to complete a selected activity, to carry out simple requests or attend to telling of an interesting story; or

(3) Inability to focus attention on recent activities, for example on telling the teacher about a selected activity, inability to tell about simple requests after carrying them out, or inability to tell about a story after hearing it.

These indicators should only be used after the children have had sufficient time to become familiar with preschool procedures and after most of the children are able easily to carry out typical preschool activities.

Culturally competent staff recognize and appreciate cultural differences, and this awareness needs to include understanding that some cultural groups may promote behavior that may be misinterpreted as inattention. Care must be taken that any deviations in attention behavior which are within the cultural norms of the child's group are not used as indicators of possible attention deficit disorder.

A period of careful observation over three months can assure that adequate documentation is available for the difficult task of evaluation. It also provides opportunity to provide extra assistance to the child, perhaps through an aide or special education student under the teacher's direction, which might improve the child's functioning and eliminate the behavior taken as evidence of possible attention deficit disorder.

Attention deficit disorders are not the result of learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities, autism or mental retardation. A comprehensive psychological evaluation may be carried out in some cases to rule out learning disability or mental retardation. It is possible, however, in some instances for this disability to coexist with another disability. Children who meet the criteria for multiple disabilities (e.g., attention deficient disorder and learning disability, or emotional/behavioral disorder, or mental retardation) would be eligible for services as children with multiple disabilities or under their primary disability.

Teacher and parent reports have been found to provide the most useful information for assessment of children suspected of having attention deficit disorder. They are also useful in planning and providing special education intervention. The most successful approach may be a positive behavior modification program in the classroom, combined with a carryover program in the home. Prompt and clear response should be provided consistently. Positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, based on rewards such as stickers or small items desired by the child has been found effective for children with this disorder, along with occasional withholding of rewards or postponing of desired activities in the face of inappropriate behavior. Effective programs suggest that positive interactions with the child after appropriate behavior are needed at least three times as often as any negative response interactions after inappropriate behavior. Consultants familiar with behavior modification should be used to assist teachers in planning and carrying out intervention which can maintain this positive to negative ratio while shaping behaviors. These behavior interventions can be provided in mainstream placements with sufficient personnel.

Suggested Primary Members of A Head Start Evaluation Team for Health Impaired Children:




Other specialists related to specific disabilities.

Possible Related Services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Family counseling.

Genetic counseling.

Nutrition counseling.

Recreational therapy.

Supervision of physical activities.


Assistive technology devices or services

Section 1308.8   Eligibility Criteria: Emotional/Behavioral Disorders

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

Staff should insure that behavior which may be typical of some cultures or ethnic groups, such as not making eye contact with teachers or other adults or not volunteering comments or initiating conversations are not misinterpreted.

The disability, social service and parent involvement coordinators should consider providing extra attention to children at-risk for emotional/behavioral disorders and their parents to help prevent a disability. Members of the Council of One Hundred, Kiwanis, Urban League, Jaycees, Rotary, Foster Grandparents, etc. may be able to provide mentoring and individual attention.

Suggested Primary Members of a Head Start Evaluation Team for Emotional/behavioral Disorders:

Psychologist, psychiatrist or other clinically trained and State qualified mental health professionals.


Possible Related Services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Behavior management.

Environmental adjustments.

Family counseling.



Assistive technology.

Section 1308.9   Eligibility Criteria: Speech or Language Impairment

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

Staff familiar with the child should consider whether shyness, lack of familiarity with vocabulary which might be used by testers, unfamiliar settings, or linguistic or cultural factors are negatively influencing screening and assessment results. Whenever possible, consultants trained in assessing the speech and language skills of young children should be selected. The child's ability to communicate at home, on the playground and in the neighborhood should be determined for an accurate assessment. Review of the developmentally appropriate age ranges for the production of difficult speech sounds can also help reduce over-referral for evaluation.

Suggested Primary Members of a Head Start Evaluation Team for Speech or Language Impairment:

Speech Pathologist.

Language Pathologist.




Possible Related Services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Environmental adjustments.

Family counseling.

Language therapy.

Speech therapy.


Assistive technology devices or services.

Section 1308.10   Eligibility Criteria: Mental Retardation

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

Evaluation instruments with age-appropriate norms should be used. These should be administered and interpreted by professionals sensitive to racial, ethnic and linguistic differences. The diagnosticians must be aware of sensory or perceptual impairments that the child may have (e.g., a child who is visually impaired should not be tested with instruments that rely heavily on visual information as this could produce a depressed score from which erroneous diagnostic conclusions might be drawn).

Suggested primary members of a Head Start evaluation team for mental retardation:



Possible related services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Environmental adjustments.

Family counseling.

Genetic counseling.

Language therapy.

Recreational therapy.

Speech therapy.


Nutrition counseling.

Section 1308.11   Eligibility Criteria: Hearing Impairment Including Deafness

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

An audiologist should evaluate a child who has failed rescreening or who does not respond to more than one effort to test the child's hearing. If the evaluation team determines that the child has a disability, the team should make recommendations to meet the child's needs for education and medical care or habilitation, including auditory training to learn to use hearing more effectively.

Suggested Primary Members of a Head Start Evaluation Team for Hearing Impairment:



Possible Related Services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Auditory training.

Aural habilitation.

Environmental adjustments.

Family counseling.

Genetic counseling.

Language therapy.

Medical treatment.

Speech therapy.

Total communication, speechreading or manual communication.


Use of amplification.

Assistive technology devices or services.

Section 1308.12   Eligibility Criteria: Orthopedic Impairment

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

Suggested Primary Members of a Head Start Evaluation Team for Orthopedic Impairment:




Occupational Therapist.

Physical Therapist.

Rehabilitation professional.

Possible Related Services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Environmental adjustments.

Family counseling.

Language therapy.

Medical treatment.

Occupational therapy.

Physical therapy.

Assistive technology.

Recreational therapy.

Speech therapy.


Nutrition counseling.

Section 1308.13   Eligibility Criteria: Visual Impairment Including Blindness

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

Primary Members of an Evaluation Team for Visual Impairment including Blindness:



Possible Related Services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Environmental adjustments.

Family counseling.

Occupational therapy.

Orientation and mobility training.

Pre-Braille training.

Recreational therapy.

Sensory training.


Functional vision assessment and therapy.

Section 1308.14   Learning Disabilities

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

When a four or five-year-old child shows signs of possible learning disabilities, thorough documentation should be gathered. For example, specific anecdotal information and samples of the child's drawings, if appropriate, should be included in the material given to the evaluation team.

A Master's degree level professional with a background in learning disabilities should be a member of the evaluation team.

Possible Related Services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Vision evaluation.



Motor development.

Hearing evaluation.

Child psychiatry.

Pediatric evaluation.

Section 1308.15   Autism

A child who manifests characteristics of the condition after age three can still be diagnosed as having autism. Autism does not include children with characteristics of serious emotional disturbance.

Suggested possible members of a Head Start evaluation team:





Language pathologist.

Possible related services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Family support services.

Language therapy.


Section 1308.16   Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury does not include congenital brain injury.

Suggested possible members of an evaluation team included:


Physical therapist.

Speech or language pathologist.

Possible related services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Rehabilitation professional.

Occupational therapy.

Speech or language therapy.

Assistive technology.

Section 1308.17   Other Impairments

This category was included to ensure that any Head Start child who meets the State eligibility criteria as developmentally delayed or State-specific criteria for services to preschool children with disabilities is eligible for needed special services either within Head Start or the State program.

Suggested primary members of an evaluation team for other impairments meeting State eligibility criteria for services to preschool children with disabilities.



Other specialists with expertise in the appropriate area(s).

Possible Related Services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Occupational therapy.

Speech or language therapy.

Family Counseling.



Information on assistance or joint services for deaf-blind children can be obtained through SEAs.

Multiple Disabilities

A child who is deaf and has speech and language impairments would not be considered to have multiple disabilities, as it could be expected that these impairments were caused by the hearing loss.

Suggested primary members of a Head Start evaluation team:


Special educators.

Speech, language or physical therapists.

Psychologists or psychiatrists.

Rehabilitation professional.

Possible related services:

(Related services are determined by individual need. These “possible related services” are merely examples and are not intended to be limiting.)

Speech, language, occupational or physical therapists as needed.

Assistive technology devices or services.

Mental health services.


Section 1308.18   Disabilities/Health Services Coordination

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

It is important for staff to maintain close communication concerning children with health impairments. Health and disability services coordinators need to schedule frequent re-tests of children with recurrent middle ear infections and to ensure that they receive ongoing medical treatment to prevent speech and language delay. They should ensure that audiometers are calibrated annually for accurate testing of hearing. Speech and hearing centers, the manufacturer, or public school education services districts should be able to perform this service. In addition, a daily check when an audiometer is in use and a check of the acoustics in the testing site are needed for accurate testing.

Approximately 17 percent of Down Syndrome children have a condition of the spine (atlanto-axial instability) and should not engage in somersaults, trampoline exercises, or other activities which could lead to spinal injury without first having a cervical spine x-ray.

Guidance for Paragraph (b)

The disabilities services coordinator needs to assure that best use is made of mental health consultants when a child appears to have a problem which may be symptomatic of a disability in the social/emotional area. Teachers, aides and volunteers should keep anecdotal records of the child's activities, tantrums, the events which appear to precipitate the tantrums, language use, etc. These can provide valuable information to a mental health consultant, who should be used primarily to make specific recommendations and assist the staff rather than to document the problem.

The mental health coordinator can cooperate in setting up group meetings for parents of children with disabilities which provide needed support and a forum for talking over mutual concerns. Parents needing community mental health services may need direct assistance in accessing services, especially at first.

The disability services coordinator needs to work closely with staff across components to help parents of children who do not have disabilities become more understanding and knowledgeable about disabilities and ways to lessen their effects. This can help reduce the isolation which some families with children with disabilities experience.

Guidance for Paragraphs (c) and (d)

Arrangements should be made with the family and the physician to schedule the administration of medication during times when the child is most likely to be under parental supervision.

Awareness of possible side effects is of particular importance when treatment for a disability requires administration of potentially harmful drugs (e.g., anti-convulsants, amphetamines).

Section 1308.19   Developing Individual Education Programs (IEPs)

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

The IEP determines the type of placement and the specific programming which are appropriate for a child. The least restrictive environment must be provided and staff need to understand that this means the most appropriate placement in a regular program to the maximum extent possible based on the IEP. Because it is individually determined, the least restrictive environment varies for different children. Likewise, the least restrictive environment for a given child can vary over time as the disability is remediated or worsens. A mainstreamed placement, in a regular program with services delivered by regular or special staff, is one type of integrated placement on the continuum of possible options. It represents the least restrictive environment for many children.

Following screening, evaluation and the determination that a child meets the eligibility criteria and has a disability, a plan to meet the child's individual needs for special education and related services is developed. In order to facilitate communication with other agencies which may cooperate in providing services and especially with LEAs or private schools which the children will eventually enter, it is recommended that programs become familiar with the format of the IEP used by the LEAs and use that format to foster coordination. However, the format of the IEP to be developed for children in Head Start can vary according to local option. It should be developed to serve as a working document for teachers and others providing services for a child.

It is recommended that the staff review the IEP of each child with a disability more frequently than the minimum once a year to keep the objectives and activities current.

It is ideal if a child can be mainstreamed in the full program with modifications of some of the small group, large group or individual program activities to meet his or her special needs and this should be the first option considered. However, this is not possible or realistic in some cases on a full-time basis. The IEP team needs to consider the findings and recommendations of the multi-disciplinary evaluation team, observation and developmental assessment information from the Head Start staff and parents, parental information and desires, and the IEP to plan for the best situation for each child. Periodic reviews can change the degree to which a child can be mainstreamed during the program year. For example, a child with autism whose IEP called for part-time services in Head Start in the fall might improve so that by spring the hours could be extended.

If Head Start is not an appropriate placement to meet the child's needs according to the IEP, referral should be made to another agency.

Helpful specific information based on experience in Head Start is provided in manuals and resource materials on serving children with disabilities developed by ACYF and by technical assistance providers. They cover such aspects of developing and implementing the IEP as:

  Gathering data needed to develop the IEP;

  Preparing parents for the IEP conference;

  Writing IEPs useful to teachers; and

  Developing appropriate curriculum activities and home follow-up activities.

Guidance for Paragraph (j)

Programs are encouraged to offer parents assistance in noting how their child functions at home and in the neighborhood. Parents should be encouraged to contribute this valuable information to the staff for use in ongoing planning. Care should be taken to put parents at ease and to eliminate or explain specialized terminology. Comfortable settings, familiar meeting rooms and ample preparation can help lessen anxiety. The main purpose is to involve parents actively, not just to obtain their signature on the IEP.

It is important to involve the parents of children with disabilities in activities related to their child's unique needs, including the procurement and coordination of specialized services and follow-through on the child's treatment plan, to the extent possible. It is especially helpful for Head Start to assist parents in developing confidence, strategies and techniques to become effective advocates for their children and to negotiate complicated systems. Under IDEA, a federally-funded Parent Training and Information Program exists whereby parent training centers in each State provide information, support and assistance to parents enabling them to advocate for their child. Information regarding these centers should be given to parents of a child determined to have a disability. Because some parents will need to advocate for their children over a number of years, they need to gain the confidence and skills to access resources and negotiate systems with increasing independence.

Some parents of children with disabilities are also disabled. Staff may need to adjust procedures for assisting parents who have disabilities to participate in their children's programs. Materials to assist in this effort are available from technical assistance providers.

Section 1308.20   Nutrition Services

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

Vocabulary and concept building, counting, learning place settings, social skills such as conversation and acceptable manners can be naturally developed at meal or snack time, thus enhancing children's skills. Children with disabilities often need planned attention to these areas.

The staff person who is responsible for nutrition and the disabilities services coordinator should work with the social services coordinator to help families access nutrition resources and services for children who are not able to learn or develop normally because of malnutrition.

The staff person who is responsible for nutrition and the disabilities services coordinator should alert staff to watch for practices leading to baby bottle caries. This is severe tooth decay caused by putting a baby or toddler to bed with a nursing bottle containing milk, juice or sugar water or letting the child carry around a bottle for long periods of time. The serious dental and speech problems this can cause are completely preventable.

In cases of severe allergies, staff should work closely with the child's physician or a medical consultant.

Section 1308.21   Parent Participation and Transition of Children From Head Start to Public School

Guidance for Paragraph (a)

Grantees should help parents understand the value of special early assistance for a child with a disability and reassure those parents who may fear that if their child receives special education services the child may always need them. This is not the experience in Head Start and most other preschool programs where the majority of children no longer receive special education after the preschool years. The disabilities coordinator needs to help parents understand that their active participation is of great importance in helping their children overcome or lessen the effects of disabilities and develop to their full potential.

The disabilities coordinator should help program staff deal realistically with parents of children who have unfamiliar disabilities by providing the needed information, training and contact with consultants or specialized agencies. The coordinator should ensure that staff carrying out family needs assessment or home visits do not overlook possible disabilities among younger siblings who should be referred for early evaluation and preventive actions.

Guidance for Paragraphs (b) and (c)

As most Head Start children will move into the public school system, disabilities coordinators need to work with the Head Start staff for early and ongoing activities designed to minimize discontinuity and stress for children and families as they move into a different system. As the ongoing advocates, parents will need to be informed and confident in communicating with school personnel and staff of social service and medical agencies. Disabilities coordinators need to ensure that the Head Start program:

  Provides information on services available for LEAs and other sources of services parents will have to access on their own, such as dental treatment;

  Informs parents of the differences between the two systems in role, staffing patterns, schedules, and focus;

  Provides opportunities for mutual visits by staff to one another's facilities to help plan appropriate placement;

  Familiarizes parents and staff of the receiving program's characteristics and expections;

  Provides early and mutually planned transfer of records with parent consent at times convenient for both systems;

  Provides information on services available under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, the federally-funded parent training centers and provisions for parent involvement and due process; and

  Provides opportunities for parents to confer with staff to express their ideas and needs so they have experience in participating in IEP and other conferences in an active, confident manner. Role playing has been found helpful.

It is strongly recommended that programs develop activities for smooth transition into Head Start from Part H infant/toddler programs funded under IDEA and from Head Start to kindergarten or other placement. In order to be effective, such plans must be developed jointly. They are advantageous for the children, parents, Part H programs, Head Start and LEAs. ACYF has developed materials useful for transition. American Indian programs whose children move into several systems, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs schools and public schools, need to prepare children and families in advance for the new situation. Plans should be used as working documents and reviewed for annual update, so that the foundation laid in Head Start is maintained and strengthened.

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