DPS to add preschool classThe number of students with disabilities enrolled at the Early Childhood Center in Dickinson is expected to increase by 23 percent next school year. Because of this increase enrollment over the last few years the Dickinson Public Schools will be adding another afternoon class next year.
The number of students with disabilities enrolled at the Early Childhood Center in Dickinson is expected to increase by 23 percent next school year.
Because of this increase enrollment over the last few years the Dickinson Public Schools will be adding another afternoon class next year.
“We needed the additional session because we strive to provide a least restrictive environment for the children,” Early Childhood Center Director Sharon Hansen said. “And with the increases we are seeing we are beginning to push that limit.”
She added federal special education regulations define a least restrictive environment or inclusive classroom as one in which less than 50 percent of the children have disabilities that require special education.
“Having this additional session will help in creating the most natural environment for the children and allow teachers to better meet the individualized education needs of every child,” Hansen said.
She said the jump in numbers can be traced back to a similar jump the Key Infant Development Services program saw in 2008.
Hansen said in 2007 in Stark County the K.I.D.S. program had 68 children with disabilities and in 2008 they had 126, which is almost a 90 percent increase.
“Some of those children are now in enrolled at the Early Childhood Learning Center,” Hansen said.
She added the increase in enrollment in the K.I.D.S. program and the Childhood Center can be attributed to early diagnosis of disabilities and more referrals.
“There used to be this attitude of ‘just wait and see what happens’ or parents were told their children would grow out of it or catch up, and that is no longer the case,” Hansen said.
Dickinson Medcenter One Clinic General Pediatrician Amy Oksa agreed, adding it’s not just physicians that are getting better, but childhood and infant specialists, nurses and programs such as Right Tracks and the K.I.D.S. program are also diagnosing and referring children at an early age.
The most common disabilities seen at the Early Childhood Center are significant developmental delays in one or more areas and speech and language impairments, DPS Director of Student Services Dorothy Martinson said.
Oksa said another reason for the increase may be the Early Childhood Center’s great reputation.
“It’s been proven that early intervention leads to better outcomes,” Oksa said.
Martinson agrees adding some students get dismissed from the programs almost every year because they have gotten the help they needed and are now up to speed in their development.
Hansen said based on the number of children referred to them from the K.I.D.S. program the Early Childhood Center does not anticipate enrollment numbers to decrease.