Special Needs Project (SNP)

A Good Idea


The Special Needs Project (SNP) targets children with disabilities and other special needs who are enrolled in First 5 School Readiness programs in communities throughout California. It is a demonstration project with the goal of identifying children with disabilities as early as possible, and providing them with needed resources so they are prepared to enter kindergarten. SNP sites partner with community agencies to develop and implement a screening, assessment, and referral system. All sites have standardized screening protocols that utilize a health screen and three assessment tools: Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), ASQ: Social-Emotional, and the Parenting Stress Index – Short Form. Each site also has a Child Study Team that analyzes screening results, provides referrals and follow-ups, and re-screens families at regular intervals.

SNP prioritizes communities containing schools scoring in the lowest three deciles of the statewide Academic Performance Index (API). Sites are located in the following ten California counties: El Dorado, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Merced, Montgomery, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sonoma.

SNP is supported by the First 5 California Children and Families Commission and the ten respectful First 5 County Commissions. First 5 programs are funded through Proposition 10, which adds a 50-cent tax to each pack of cigarettes sold.

Goal / Mission

The project's goal is to identify children with disabilities and other special needs at an early age and provide those identified with the appropriate support so they can be successful when entering kindergarten.

Results / Accomplishments

Since the 2005-2006 Fiscal Year, SNP demonstration sites screened almost 15,000 children. A family survey of participants revealed that 91% felt that the program met their family’s unique needs and believed that early screening was important for their child.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Kris Perry, Executive Director
California Children and Families Commission
2389 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 260
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 263-1050
Education / Childcare & Early Childhood Education
Health / Disabilities
First 5 California Children and Families Commission (First 5) and ten First 5 County Commissions
Date of publication
Date of implementation
For more details
Target Audience
Children, Families
Additional Audience
Children with Special Needs