Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Kathy Bradley-Klug, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Emily Shaffer-Hudkins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.


IDEA, Early Steps, Part C, Part B, special education


Infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities and certain medical conditions are at risk for a variety of adverse outcomes in childhood as well as into adulthood. Early identification and early intervention are essential for improving the trajectories and outcomes of these children. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that affords protections to children with disabilities and those at risk for developmental delays. IDEA provides guidance and regulations to early intervention programs, schools, and states for identifying and delivering intervention services to children ages birth through 21 years. Although the provision of early intervention services are regulated by the federal government through IDEA, states have autonomy to decide how they define and measure disabilities and developmental delays. As a result, states differ greatly in their eligibility criteria as well as in the percentages of children identified for early intervention (IDEA Part C) and preschool special education (IDEA Part B). Thus, children who receive early intervention services may or may not continue to meet criteria for special education once they reach age 3. Few studies have examined the child, family, and early intervention characteristics that relate to how, when, and if children will transition from Part C to Part B. Those studies that have examined these relationships have not focused specifically on how these transitions occur in Florida. The purpose of the present study was to examine child, family, and early intervention characteristics that increase the likelihood of children transitioning from Part C to Part B in Florida. Participants in this study included infants and toddlers who exited the Bay Area Early Steps Program (one of Florida’s Part C providers) in 2016. Archival data were examined using a combination of descriptive statistics, Chi-squares, independent t-tests, and logistic regression analyses. Results of this study indicate that children exiting the Bay Area Early Steps Program were more likely to be eligible for preschool special education (Part B) if they were Black/African American, Hispanic, had an established/diagnosed condition, had a lower socioeconomic status, received speech/language services in Early Steps, received multiple different service types in Early Steps, and/or received Early Steps services in Polk County (as opposed to Hillsborough County). Children were not more likely to be eligible for Part B based on their gender, primary language, length of time in Early Steps, or receipt of occupational therapy, physical therapy, or early intervention services while in Early Steps. The findings of this study provide preliminary information about factors that relate to children’s transitions from early intervention to preschool special education in Florida. The findings also offer practical implications for the day-to-day operations of the Bay Area Early Steps program and the local school districts to which these children transition.