By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
For The Post Publications
PHILADELPHIA PA – Pennsylvania children at risk of falling behind their peers in preschool and kindergarten can get help to prepare them for school. Some of the state’s youngsters are entitled to receive early intervention services, such as speech therapy and specialized instruction, to help them prepare for their first day of school.
Sean McGrath, an attorney at the Education Law Center in Philadelphia, says that can make a big difference. Early childhood education can give children a huge boost, educators say.
But, McGrath adds, those with physical or developmental disabilities, who are homeless, or who have parents struggling with addiction can be at a serious disadvantage. Any parent can ask for help, but the attorney notes that referrals for younger children often come from county hospitals that record low birth weights and other possible indicators of the need for help.
Services are available for newborns, and children age 5 and younger. Parents who are concerned their children may need help can call, toll-free, 800-692-7288 to connect to early intervention services.
“There’s a study that has shown that children who receive early intervention, 40 percent of the cohort was actually caught up and did not need special education services once they entered school, compared to a control group,” McGrath reports.
School districts are required to determine if more services will be needed when a child enters kindergarten, and have those services in place on the first day of school. McGrath adds many parents of eligible children simply don’t know that help is available.
McGrath claims early intervention has been shown to be one of the most effective tools to help children overcome developmental delays and disabilities.
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