Office of Special Education
Birth To Five Services


Birth to Five Services


Services for infants, toddlers and young children between birth and age five include several programs and activities to improve developmental outcomes for young children and their families.  Baltimore County’s Birth-to-Five Services encompass:


  • Direct services for children and families who are eligible for early intervention or preschool special education services: these are offered through the Baltimore County Infants and Toddlers Program, Community-based Instruction Services, and the BCPS Child Find Assessment Centers.  (Links to program descriptions pages)

  • Collaborative partnerships among early childhood service providers to strengthen early intervention, educational, and support services throughout the community and within BCPS.

  • Professional development for early childhood providers and teachers throughout the county to promote the use of evidence-based practices throughout the early childhood community.   

Our goal is to optimize the growth and development of children in collaboration with their families so that every child experiences learning and social success.


Referral for Early Intervention and Preschool Services (Birth to Age 5)

Early Intervention, Family Support, and Preschool Services

The Baltimore County Infant and Toddler Program

Moving from IFSP to IEP Services

Preschool Special Education Services

Helpful Websites

Preschool Transition Resources

Contact Information


Referral for Early Intervention and Preschool Services (Birth to Age 5)


When an infant or young child (birth to age three) is at risk for developmental delay or disability, the parents may be referred for an early intervention evaluation through the Infants and Toddlers Program.  For a child age three through five who is suspected of having a delay or educational disability, referrals may be made by calling BCPS’ Child Find.



Referral services through BCITP and BCPS Child Find are designed to be family and other user friendly and are initiated with a single phone call.


For children under the age of three, a referral can be made by calling 443-809-2169.


If a child is three years old or older and not enrolled in a BCPS school, referrals are made at 443-809-3017.


Most referrals are directly made by families at the recommendation of the child’s pediatrician.


Anyone can make a referral to BCITP or BCPS Child Find for a child suspected of having a disability or delay in development including medical professionals, child care providers, social service program staff, community service providers and other family members.



Early Intervention, Family Support, and Preschool Services


Whether a child is receiving services through an IFSP or an IEP, intervention and educational services are designed to improve outcomes for young children to prepare them to learn in kindergarten.  The team considers the child’s strengths as well as developmental needs in three areas:

  • Developing positive social relationships.

  • Acquiring and using knowledge and skills.

  • Taking action to meet their needs. 

The Baltimore County Infant and Toddler Program (BCITP) provides early intervention services through an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Staff members from BCPS, Baltimore County Department of Health, and the Baltimore County Department of Social Services (DSS) work from five BCITP sites located across Baltimore County to serve children and their families in their natural environments.  Services may be provided individually to a child and family, or in a group setting that may include other children receiving BCITP services in addition to typical peers.  The services can vary in structure and frequency based on the desired learning outcomes and needs of the child and the family.  


Moving from IFSP to IEP Services.  Children who are identified prior to age three receive services from the BCITP through an IFSP.  As those children approach their third birthday, the service coordinator helps the family explore preschool options.  If the child continues to qualify for services under the guidelines for children over three, the family may choose to remain on the IFSP or transfer to IEP-based services.  (If the child is not found eligible, the service coordinator will help the family identify resources in their community to continue to support the child’s development).  If the family opts to extend the IFSP, the transition to the IEP will occur the school year that starts after the child’s fourth birthday (or at any time before that the family chooses).  Whenever the transition occurs, the service coordinator and other providers work with the family to create a “transition plan” describing the activities and services needed to ensure a smooth transition, including conducting and sharing assessments, exploring service options with family, and preparing the child and family for the new setting.


Preschool Special Education Services support eligible children ages three through five who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).  An IEP is  a written document that describes the educational program to meet a child’s individual needs for students from the age of 3 through 21 years.  The IEP is developed with a multi-disciplinary team including the parents. It identifies the child’s individualized learning goals and defines the supports and services that BCPS will provide.  Services are provided in the least restrictive environment for the child.  This may be a community preschool, child care setting, Head Start program or public library group.  The team may also consider other options, such as services in a classroom only with other children who have disabilities, or in a one-to-one setting with a specialist. Other “related” services such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy are also discussed and included on the IEP if needed. 


Service Delivery Components IFSP Services IEP Preschool
Special Education Services
Who receives services? A child is eligible for services if the child demonstrates a 25% delay in any area of development; exhibits “atypical” development; or has a diagnosed condition or disability.  A child may receive services until the beginning of the school year following a child’s fourth birthday. A child is eligible for services if there is a 25% delay in development; exhibits “atypical” development; or is diagnosed with an educational disability that interferes with the child’s learning.

Families of children receiving Infants and Toddlers Services who are eligible for preschool special education services at age three may choose whether to continue with Infants and Toddlers or transition to preschool special education services.
What types of services might the child receive? The child may receive specialized instruction, speech language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work, psychological counseling or behavior support, and/or audiology services, which may be offered individually or in a group setting with same age peers. The child may receive special education services as well as related services, including speech language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or other related services including assistive technology supports.
Where are the services provided? Services are provided in the natural environment and can include the home, child care setting, preschool setting, or any other community setting where the child and family spend time. Services can be provided in a community setting, such as a daycare, parentally-placed preschool, public library, or in a BCPS preschool, prekindergarten, or kindergarten classroom.
Who comprises the “Team”? The team consists of the service coordinator, service provider(s), and the family. The team consists of an IEP chair, a special education teacher, a general education teacher, and other related service providers as needed including a nurse or psychologist. 
Are services provided throughout the year or only during the school All services on an IFSP are provided to the child and family on a continuous, year-round basis. IEP services are implemented during the school year.  The IEP team will determine if the child needs Extended School Year (ESY) services during the summer. 


Helpful Websites - A resource for providers and families with young children with disabilities, birth through five (MSDE site) – National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center – Provides information related to the implementation of outcomes systems for early intervention and preschool special education


Preschool Transition Resources

Let’s Go to Preschool: PT, OT, and Speech
Let's Go to Preschool: Riding the Bus
Let's Go to Preschool: IEP Meeting
Let's Go to Preschool: Community Based Services

Contact Information

Paula Boykin,

Supervisor, Birth to Five Services


Sally Chapman

Specialist, Infants and Toddlers


Christel Marsh

Specialist, Child Find and Preschool

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