Polk Moms

Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.

I have heard that children that were preemies can get into school at the age of 3 instead of 4. Does anyone know where I can get info on this?  I've been searching with no success.

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Hi Chelle,

My daughter was a premie too :-) First you should contact Childrens Medical Services (CMS) 863-413-3580. You can find out if your child will qualify and I am sure they will provide you with a list of other local programs or referals available. You can also contact the (PCSB) Polk County School Board ESE Department (863) 534-0500 and inquire as to their program(s) and ask that they do an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and/or inquire about their Early Intervention Program. There are priviate providers, but I think you have to be in the PCSB system before you can apply for the McKay Scholarship (private providers). Many other services are available too but most require a referal from your childs primary care Physician, who should have already given you a full list of provider options. Perhaps he/she did not think those services were needed, but as I understand it the DR is only qualified to give you a referal and not assess the child as to the level of services needed The earlier you get started the better for your child, should any specialized services be needed (re: Physical, Occupational, Speech Therapy, etc.).

You also need to contact the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) (863) 413-3360. Even if you have insurance and/or your income is too high for Medicaid there is a Medicaid Waiver program with a very long (years) waiting list. They may help pay for services when/if the insurance or other programs will not and based upon need they may place your child on the top of the list.

You also should apply for SSI (Supplimental Security Income) at the Social Security office, as they might pay for some services too. Even if you are not accepted for what ever reason, should your circumstance change you may then qualify. It is a good idea to know when and/or if they can help too.

Best wishes!

Both of my daughters were preemies... I agree with everything MR mom says.  You will need to look at a variety of programs to see if your child qualifies for anything. 

The main point is that just being a preemie will not qualify your child for anything... the child has to show a developmental delay.  If your child is already 3, you need to call Child Find with the PCSB (647-4262) to have the child evaluated.  If the child is under 3, you need to call USF Early Steps (413-3484) to have the child evaluated.  Both of those programs determine eligibility for PreKindergarden ESE services.  If a delay is documented through either of these programs, Pre K ESE does start with the public schools at age 3. 

I have also been told that Head Start will place children higher on their waiting lists if the child has a delay.  That could possibly allow a child to start at age 3 instead of age 4.  I am not sure of the qualifiers for that program, but I know it is income based. 


Try contacting Achievement Academy.  That's where we sent Jesse.  They often have a waiting list, but sometimes you can get right in.  They try to even out the ratio of backgrounds/sex.  Wasn't to happy at first when I heard that, but so glad we went for it.  Was the BEST place ever.  Our son was a preemie as well.  He was a 27 weeker.  The teachers and staff are excellent.  With their input and what they noticed he was doing got him treatment fast.  We started off going through USF and they offered us 2 places at that time.  One was Achievement Academy and they other North Lakeland School (not found of that area).  They helped us transition to elementary school easily as well.  I know there are most likely more school available now.  Call the places from the above mentioned parents.  I'll include the link to Achievement Academy so You can check them out as well.  The Lakeland Office, talk to Cindy or even Paula (she's head of the school).


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