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Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

Program Overview

General Information

It is the policy of the State of Missouri that all children with disabilities, residing in the state are identified, located, and evaluated.  School districts and other public agencies responsible for providing special education must offer a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to children who have been identified as eligible under the eligibility criteria outlined in the Missouri State Plan for Special Education as early as a child's third birthdate.  Special Education and related services for pre-school age is referred to as early childhood special education.

Parents of children who are three-to-five years old or approaching age three who suspect their child may have a developmental delay or handicapping condition that may affect them educationally, may contact their local school district to make a referral for evaluation to determine eligibility for special education services.

ECSE services are provided through Federal Funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as well as state general revenue funds.


Program Location

Early Childhood Special Education services are provided in all areas of the state.  If a district's size or resources does not make it feasible to provide services to meet the unique needs of all students in their district through salaried personnel, they may choose to contract with private agencies, individuals, or other school districts to make available appropriate services.

Where possible and appropriate, services are provided in the environment where the child typically spends his/her day (community child care facilities, Head Start, Title I or school district preschool programs, etc.), but some children may require services that are provided in a group setting primarily designed for children with disabilities.  Services may be provided to children on a one-on-one basis, in small groups, or in a classroom setting.  Providers of special education and related services also provide consultation to assist general education teachers, paraprofessionals and caregivers in addressing the child's special education needs.


Eligibility Determination

Beginning with the 2001-2002 school year, school districts had the option of identifying a child as eligible under the category of Young Child with a Developmental Delay (YCDD) or under one of the other eligibility categories that have been historically used for children ages Kindergarten to 21.  In order to be eligible under the YCDD category, the child's development must be at or below 1.5 standard deviations or equivalent levels, of the mean in any two areas of development, or at or below 2.0 standard deviations or equivalent levels in one area of development, and the child must need special education and related services.  Areas of development that can be used to determine eligibility include physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional or adaptive.