By definition, the transition is a process of change, “a process or period in which something undergoes a change and passes from one state, stage, form, or activity to another” according to the Encarta Dictionary. As we all know, change is difficult for most people. For families who have youngsters with disabilities, change can be even harder. There are, by design, three separate transitions built into the special education system. This fact sheet will explain the various steps, timelines, roles of participants, and things to think about while planning. Our goal is to organize and prepare you, if not simplifying the process, while you participate in these stages. You will also find additional resources to draw upon in your approach to each transition point.

The Transition from Infant and Toddler Services to Preschool
This process is designed to assure a smooth continuity of services when a child who has been receiving services through their local Office of Mental Retardation funded by the Department of Public Welfare turns three years of age. The IFSP(individualized family service plan) that has been developed to describe services will become an IEP (individualized education plan) with a similar function. The process for this transition should begin when a youngster is 2 years six months old with the family giving permission for the service coordinator to contact the MAWA (mutually agreed upon written arrangement) holder, who will become responsible through the Department of Education for providing preschool services.

During this six-month period, the MAWA may review evaluation information and/or conduct additional evaluations. The MAWA becomes responsible for holding an IEP meeting before …