Humboldt County Office of Education: Special Beginnings

Special Beginnings

Photo of Genevieve Macias
Genevive Macias

Welcome to the Special Beginnings program at the Humboldt County Office of Education. Our dedicated team of teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff members serve preschool children ages birth to five years with special needs. The Early Start component of the program partners with the Redwood Coast Regional Center to provide service to infants and toddlers under age three in home and daycare settings. We also work closely with other agencies such as North Coast Children Services (Head Start) and private and state preschools in providing high-level support for children who attend their programs. The goal is to prepare them to transition successfully into district Kindergarten programs on regular school campuses.

Children aged three to five years may be referred to HCOE Special Beginnings by parents, teachers, physicians, community agencies or other concerned individuals with the parents’ consent. For students who are eligible for special education services, an Individual Education Plan will be developed based on the child’s identified needs.

Children under age three may be referred to the Redwood Coast Regional Center Early Start Coordinator or to the HCOE Special Beginnings Program Manager. We work closely with the Regional Center to provide special education services to forty infants and toddlers who are eligible for the California Early Start program.

Program Descriptions

Special Day Classes

Special Beginnings operates classrooms designed to serve young children with diagnoses of autism. One is operated jointly with Redwood Coast Regional Center under the Early Start program (see above); the others serve preschool-age children. All SDC’s are located on regular elementary school campuses to facilitate inclusion with typically developing children and to develop familiarity with the sights, sounds and routines of a regular school environment.

Parents are an integral part of on-going assessment and curriculum planning. Non-school providers are welcomed into to the classrooms to observe and meet with staff to ensure that students’ educational experiences transfer to other environments, and strategies and expectations are coordinated and consistent.

Early Start
Early Start services target infants and toddlers under age three. The lead agency in California for Early Start is Redwood Coast Regional Center. HCOE has a formal working relationship with RCRC in which we help coordinate a range of community-based services to these very young children, as well as provide direct educational services.

HCOE has three special education teachers dedicated to serving children under age three: two are itinerant and visit children in homes and other community settings, and one teaches a self-contained class for children recently diagnosed with autism. We pride ourselves on our dedication to working closely with other community agencies and providers, and supporting parents as they learn about their “special” child so the best possible outcomes can be attained. Every eligible child has an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) with appropriate goals based on assessment.

Itinerant Preschool
HCOE has six special education teachers and one speech/language pathologist who serve pre-Kindergarten children, ages three to five, throughout Humboldt county. Children are served in homes, preschools, home childcares, and other off-site settings. Each child is evaluated to determine eligibility for special education services. If they are eligible, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed. We are proud of the dedication and passion of our itinerant teachers and their efforts to ensure that each child is as ready as he or she is able for transition to Kindergarten.