In 2018, the Michigan Office of Innovative Projects released four guidance documents to help school teams determine eligibility for children, birth to age three, for special education services within Michigan Mandatory Special Education (MMSE). The documents guided teams in the following eligibility areas:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Early Childhood Developmental Delay
- Other Health Impaired
- Speech Language Impaired
In spring 2021, a new document will be added to the list for determining special education eligibility for children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH). The new guidelines arose from questions districts had about the developmental impact and when to include practitioners with specific expertise in the DHH field. Families were also unclear about the differences between MMSE and Early On services, and which would best support them. The clarification in this document will benefit individualized family service plan (IFSP) teams as they discuss the unique needs of each child and which program will best support families in achieving their goals. An IFSP is provided if a child is found eligible for early intervention services.
Creating the Guidelines
In 2019, the Office of Innovative Projects requested collaborative support from MDE-LIO to create the new guidelines. MDE-LIO initially recommended practitioners within audiology, speech language pathology, early childhood, teacher preparation, and DHH education who could participate on the committee. Then, MDE-LIO consultants worked with the committee to create the new guidelines over the course of the year.
The finalized document will include guidance and resources to support IFSP team members as they discuss and determine eligibility for children who are DHH. After a child is determined eligible for special education, the family and child have access to the full range of programs and services allowable within the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE). This access includes support from a teacher consultant for students who are DHH, which may not be available within Early On services.
About Early On
Early On Michigan is a statewide system that offers early intervention services for infants and toddlers, birth to three years of age, with developmental delay(s) and/or disabilities, and their families.
About the Office of Innovative Projects
The Office of Innovative Projects is provided by Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency (CCRESA) on behalf of the Michigan Department of Education. CCRESA also provides training and technical assistance for Early On.