In our August issue, we wrote a blog on how Individual Support Plans (ISPs) work in licensed child care centres. In this issue, we want to look at what happens after your child graduates from preschool and is about to head into a whole new, stimulating environment – Full-Day Kindergarten!
While this is a very exciting step in a child’s life, and the beginning of their journey as lifelong learners, this may leave you feeling worried and filled with questions and uncertainties! Will they have the same support? Who do you contact if your child is struggling? What will their teacher be like? With September right around the corner – this blog will highlight how to put an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in place for your child in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).
According to the Ministry of Education when an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IRPC) identifies a student as an exceptional pupil, the principal must ensure that an IEP for that student is developed and maintained. But what is an IRPC and how do we get to that point? The TDSB’s Special Education section provides full information on how to support your child’s success at school:
- Classroom Screening and Monitoring
The teacher will meet with the parents and other teachers to review the student’s strengths and needs to be successful. This will be tracked through observations, samples, record of achievement, etc.
- Referral to In-School Support Team
The In-School Support Team (IST) provides support to the student by developing, monitoring and evaluating action plans and strategies to support the student. The teacher monitors and records the student’s progress in a document called the Individual Learning Profile (ILP).
- Follow-Up Consultation with School Support Team
When the IST determines that more input is required to address the student’s needs, the student is then referred to the School Support Team (SST). The SST helps set educational goals and implement strategies for the student’s strengths and needs. In this step, knowledge is gathered from psychologists, social workers, speech-language pathologists, and other professionals.
- Referral to an Identification, Placement and Review Committee
Some students’ needs cannot be met through the process above. The role of the Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) is to determine whether the student is “exceptional” (has special needs), and to advise an appropriate program or setting for them. Depending on the student’s needs, this could be an Educational Assistant in the classroom, resources to modify the learning environment, or withdrawing the student to a full- or part-time special education class. The school-based IPRC holds an annual review for each student to determine if support is still needed. Keep in mind that at anytime, parents can request a review in writing after a student has been in a special education program for 3 months.
The IEP must be developed with the input from the parent(s)/guardian(s) and the student (if they are 16 years old or older). It must be developed within thirty (30) days of placement in a particular program and the parent(s)/guardian(s) is provided with a copy.
It’s important to remember that while parental attendance is not mandatory, parents will be informed about any plan of action that is recommended at the meetings to address the student’s needs. To view a fuller scope of policies, legislation, and full details of how Special Education in Ontario works, you may want to read the Special Education in Ontario, Kindergarten to Grade 12 Policy and Resources Guide 2017.
Although the steps, supports, and contact information might change for each school district, the steps to put an IEP in place will be similar as it is mandated by the Ministry of Education. Please find the regional links for special needs support for school boards in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) below.
- Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB)
- York Region District School Board (YRDSB) & York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB)
- Peel District School Board & Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB)
Through the Community Based Resource Model, most students experiencing issues can be supported through regular classrooms. The inclusive model includes these programs to support students further: Home School Program, Intensive Support Programs, and Congregated Sites.
If you question whether your child has an exceptional need and you require community supports, a great starting point would be to ask your local school; additionally, you may want to contact the Learning Disabilities Association Toronto District. We have also compiled further resources for: parents, siblings, government services, etc. on our website’s Special Needs/Disability section. You might want to browse through the Special Needs Parenting section of our library for more information.