Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)
Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is a state and federally mandated program for young children with disabilities ages 3-5. Eligible children with disabilities, ages 3-5, are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B, Section 619 in the least restrictive environment (LRE) in accordance with their individual needs. Children who meet eligibility criteria may receive Early Childhood Special Education services in a variety of settings such as a pre-kindergarten classroom, in the home, or in community settings such as Head Start and pre-school.
In Texas, services for eligible children with disabilities ages 3-5 are provided free of charge through the public-school system. Over 40,000 children in Texas receive individual special education services each year as a part of IDEA 619 Preschool.
Below are state resources for students with disabilities ages 3-5:
The Early Transition Memorandum of Understanding defines roles and responsibilities between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), and the TEA within state and federal mandates. It coordinates an effective system of procedures between ECI and the TEA which guide and support transition services for families of children with disabilities who are approaching age three.
Consult SPEDTex, the Texas Special Education Information Center. This is a resource backed by TEA to inform and support parents, teachers, and anyone committed to the success of children with disabilities.
Below are national resources for students with disabilities ages 3-5:
- The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center supports the implementation of the early childhood provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The center's mission is to strengthen service systems to ensure that children with disabilities (birth through five) and their families receive and benefit from high quality, culturally appropriate, and family-centered supports and services.
- The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) promotes policies and advances evidence-based practices that support families and enhance the optimal development of young children (0-8) who have or are at risk for developmental delays and disabilities.
Below are related links to federal policy for students with disabilities ages 3-5:
- Dear Colleague Letter on Preschool Least Restrictive Environment
- Dear Colleague Letter on Response to Intervention (RTI) and Preschool Services
- Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs
- Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs – Executive Summary
For more information contact your local school district or regional education service center.