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Special Education

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is a program for young children with developmental delays and disabilities. It refers to the range of special education services that apply specifically to children between the ages of 3 to 5, prior to kindergarten.

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is a program designed to address the developmental learning needs of children ages three to five. Certificated staff work closely with families and community resources to enhance the social/emotional, physical, cognitive and communication development of young children. Educational plans are developed and tailored to each child as an individual and specially designed services are provided accordingly at no cost to parents.

Early childhood intervention programs have been shown to have beneficial effects in academic achievement, behavior, educational attainment, reduction in delinquency and criminality, and improved labor market success, among other domains.

Special Education in Missouri related links:

Procedural Safeguards provide information for the special education process that describe the rights of students with disabilities and their parents.

Parents Guide to Special Education explains how special education works, including process and terminology.

The Parents' Bill of Rights provides information concerning a parent's rights and responsibilities as the parent of a child with a disability as defined in the Missouri State Plan for Special Education.

Early Childhood Special Education Evaluation

A Special Education Referral

If you know of a preschool-age child who is not making satisfactory developmental progress and a disability is suspected, a referral may be made for an evaluation to your local school district. When a referral is made, the district will gather all existing information on the child, including information from parents regarding concerns they may have about their child.

A review of existing data will be completed with the parents. This review determines the areas that need further assessment. With parental consent, an evaluation is completed. Parents will be asked to participate in their child's evaluation by completing questionnaires and/or checklists. The multidisciplinary evaluation team members will meet with the parent(s) of the child to discuss the results of the testing and determine whether the child meets the eligibility criteria to receive Special Education services and/or related services from the Early Childhood Special Education program. The parent(s) then receive the results outlined in an evaluation report describing the child's strengths and areas of delay.

Areas of development that can be used to determine eligibility include:

  • Cognitive

  • Communication (Speech and Language)

  • Physical (Gross and Fine Motor)

  • Social/Emotional/Behavioral

  • Adaptive

After the team has completed the evaluation report and determined that the child is eligible for Early Childhood Special Education services, an IEP (Individualized Education Program) will be developed for the child. The IEP is written by the IEP team including the parent(s) and any professionals related to the areas of concern. The IEP team will use the evaluation results to describe the child's present level of functioning and plan developmental and educational goals. The team will then determine the Special Education and related services the child will receive in order to meet the goals and objectives.

Once determined eligible, a child may begin receiving services as early as his/her third birthday.

Diagnostic and Evaluation Team

Trisha Buenemann
Speech Language Diagnostician

Jennifer Hoffmann
Educational Diagnostician

Dr. Malisa Johnson
School Psychological Examiner

Suzanne Keiser
Diagnostic Occupational Therapist

Frequently Asked Questions about ECSE