Tri-Counties Regional Center

Services & Supports

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Turning Age Three



What is It?

Transition is the process of change that occurs as your child approaches his/her 3rd birthday and the Early Start program ends. This is a time of many changes so we do our best to plan ahead. We call this process ‘Transition Planning’.

Planning for transition typically starts 6 months before your child turns 3 to ensure that there is a plan of support in place to prepare you and your child for a change in services. Your Service Coordinator will schedule a transition meeting to discuss your plans for your child as his/her third birthday approaches. At this meeting you will review a variety of options that are available to all children in your community. Special education and regional center services after age 3 will also be discussed. 

Who will be there?

To assist with a discussion about special education, a representative from your local school district may be invited to the transition meeting to explain the various options and eligibility criteria. Your Service Coordinator will help explain regional center services for children over the age of 3. Feel free to invite anyone you like including:

  Your early intervention team.

  A parent from the Family Resource Center.

  Any other agency involved with your family.  

Your Service Coordinator will be available to answer questions you may have.


Some children who transition from Early Start may continue to need supports and services. Your child may qualify for services through the school district and/or the regional center. If your child qualifies for special education, it does not mean that she/he automatically qualifies for regional center services. Each agency has its own assessment process and eligibility criteria. 

Special Education Eligibility

Your child may be eligible for special education. Your child’s disability must impact her or his school performance. If your child is eligible, a plan for education should be in place by age 3. There is a wide range of services available depending on your child’s unique needs. You will be part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team that decides which services best meet your child’s needs. These services will be documented in an IEP. There is no cost for special education.

Regional Center Eligibility 

The Lanterman Act defines eligibility for regional center services after 3 years of age. To qualify, your child must have a developmental disability that can be expected to continue indefinitely and is substantially disabling. Developmental disabilities that may qualify for services are intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy. 

If your child is eligible, your Early Start Service Coordinator will arrange for your child’s case to be transferred to a Service Coordinator on the children’s team. Both Service Coordinators will meet with you to develop a new plan called the Individual Program Plan (IPP).

Family Resource Centers

Family Resource Centers work in partnership with regional centers to help meet the needs in their communities. These centers provide a vital network of parent support, including a way for parents to connect with other parents in similar situations. They offer information and referral, home visits and parent education. They also publish regular newsletters and calendars of local support groups and events, with information about clubs, social programs, classes, support groups, and other community resources.

  San Luis Obispo County - Parents Helping Parents Family Resource Center (805) 543-3277

  Santa Barbara County - Alpha Resource Center (805) 683-2145

  Ventura County - Rainbow Connection Family Resource Center (805) 485-9643


What is Available to All 3 Year Olds

Programs and resources may vary slightly from region to region and are typically available to all children. Some may have enrollment fees, financial or other eligibility criteria. Your Service Coordinator will be able to assist you in finding local resources like:

Community Programs such as Parks and Recreation, local libraries, and Neighborhoods for Learning offer a range of activities for your child and family.

Community Preschool Programs offer classes, some of which may require parent participation. 

Head Start is a federally funded preschool program primarily available to children from low-income families. Priority is given to children with special needs (

State Funded Preschool Programs are operated by some local school districts and other public agencies. These are typically half-day preschool programs and parent involvement is encouraged (

First 5 California offers a range of services in all counties that are tailored to the needs of local communities. Some of their programs may include preschool (Neighborhoods for Learning), Family Resource Centers, early learning activities, access to health services, dental treatment, mental health services, and parent education ( 

Private Preschools are available to your child with a fee for tuition. Private preschools are not typically designed to serve children with special needs, but they are required by law to make accommodations for these children.


Learn more about regional centers and school districts:

Title 17, California Code of Regulations (CCR), Chapter 2, Section 52112 (

Before age 3, Title 17, California Code of Regulations guides Early Start services. After age 3 services are guided by the Welfare and Institution Code, Lanterman Act (

California Education Code, Section 30 (