Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) – Ages 2-5
The long-term goal for preschool-aged children is for them to be as ready as possible to enter kindergarten. Preschool-aged children with a disability may be eligible for Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services.
Preschool-aged children from age two (whose birthday falls on or before September 30) through five with a disability may be eligible for Early Childhood Special Education services under one or more of 13 disability categories, which are defined in the federal and state regulations:
- Emotional disability
- Hearing impairment
- Learning disability
- Intellectual disability
- Multiple disabilities
- Orthopedic impairment
- Other health impairment
- Speech or language impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Visual impairment/blindness
- Developmental delay – Developmental delay means a disability affecting a child ages two by September 30 through six, inclusive: (34 CFR 300.8(b);[ 34 CFR 300.306(b)])
- (i) Who is experiencing developmental delays, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development, or (ii) who has an established physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay;
- The delay(s) is not primarily a result of cultural factors, environmental or economic disadvantage, or limited English proficiency; and
- The presence of one or more documented characteristics of the delay has an adverse affect on educational performance and makes it necessary for the student to have specially designed instruction to access and make progress in the general educational activities for this age group.
Local school divisions determine the eligibility criteria for services under the developmental delay category.
Early Childhood Special Education services are provided by local school divisions. Local school divisions’ Special Education Departments should be contacted for specific information about their programs. to find school division information, refer to the Virginia public school division directory.
Special Education Process
The determination that a child is eligible for special education and related services shall be made on an individual basis. When completing the Eligibility Process, the local educational agency is required to: a. Draw upon information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input and teacher recommendations, as well as information about the child’s physical condition, social or cultural background and adaptive behavior; and b. Ensure that information from all these sources is documented and carefully considered.
- Learn more about the special education process
- Learn more about the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia (2010) and other state regulations, laws, and policies
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
The services and placement of students with disabilities who need special education are developed through an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is the responsibility of local public school divisions. Special education is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. Specially designed instruction means adapting the content, methodology or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of the student that result from the child's disability; and to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the educational standards that apply to all children.
Learn more about the special education: Individualized Education Program (IEP).
For Early Childhood Special Education programs and services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires each state to publicly report on state-level data and individual school division-level data and to report on whether the state and the divisions met state targets. More about: Data Collection and Reporting.