Early Childhood Special Ed

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services are provided for all young children with disabilities. Early childhood special education eligibility criteria are used for initial eligibility determination for students who are identified as disabled and are three and four years of age. The district is required by law to provide free and appropriate special education and related services in the least restrictive environment for eligible students on their third birthday.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for early childhood special education is based upon significant delays in development that affect the student’s educational performance. For children ages 3 to 5 (not kindergarten age eligible) children may be determined as eligible using any of the disability categories including that of Young Child with a Developmental Delay.

After all steps in the special education process have been completed, a multidisciplinary team may determine that a student is eligible for services under the Young Child with a Developmental Delay diagnosis when ALL of the following conditions are met:

The student’s development is significantly below that of their peers. Significantly below is defined as performance at or below 1.5 standard deviations, or equivalent levels, of the mean in any of two developmental areas or at or below 2.0 standard deviations, or equivalent levels, in any one area of development and the child needs special education and related services.

Areas of development that can be used for eligibility determination include:

  • Cognitive Development
  • Communication Development
  • Physical Development
  • Adaptive Development
  • Social or Emotional Development   


The transition process from First Steps to Early Childhood Special Education requires that the LEA be involved at least six months prior to the child’s third birthday. All evaluative/diagnostic procedures shall be followed in determining the student’s eligibility for ECSE services. AIS may be waived for First Steps participants. The district is required to provide special education and related services as identified on the IEP as of the student’s third birth date unless the third birth date occurs during a normal vacation period. Children whose third birthdates are May through August may continue in the First Steps program until the initiation of the district’s school year at no cost to the parents. The Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) will terminate upon commencement of the school year. Children whose third birthdates are April 1 through May 1, may either transition to the district program before the end of the current school year or continue services in First Steps until the initiation of the districts school year. Children who meet ECSE eligibility and enroll in the district for the remainder of the school year must be considered for Extended School Year as required by law. The district may document that it has made a diligent effort to complete the diagnostic and IEP process, but despite that effort, was unable to do so within the time lines.

Early Childhood Special Education Placement Options

  • Early Childhood Setting
  • Early Childhood Special Education Setting
  • Home
  • Part time EC/Part time ECSE Setting
  • Residential
  • Separate School
  • Itinerant Services Outside the Home

For more information please contact:

Will Vanderpool, Director of Alternative Learning, at 636-851-4060 - District

Teresa Bauer, ECSE Coordinator, at 636-851-5970 - Meadows Parkway and Central School Rd

Amanda Lubiewski, ECSE Coordinator, at 636-851-6135 - Hackmann Rd


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