Services for Texas Students with Disabilities Ages 3-5

Eligible children with disabilities, ages 3-21, are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). In Texas, school district Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) provide special education and related services for eligible children with disabilities ages 3-5. PPCD refers to the services provided by the school district, not to the place where they are provided.  Eligible children may receive PPCD services in a variety of settings such as pre-kindergarten, resource, and self-contained classrooms or in community settings such as Head Start and pre-school. 

Early Childhood Memorandum of Understanding (PDF 108 KB)

State Resources 

Below are state resources for students with disabilities ages 3-5:  
  • The Early Childhood Outcomes and Prekindergarten Guidelines Alignment (PDF 3.37 MB) The purpose of this document is to align each Prekindergarten guideline to one or more of the three Early Childhood Outcomes, and provide educators and families with discussion prompts to explain how each outcome relates to the guideline.
  • Beyond ECI focuses on the effective transition of children exiting Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) services. This document provides accurate and consistent information to bridge communication between agencies and families while promoting a continuum of services for children. English version Spanish version
  • The Early Transition Memorandum of Understanding (PDF 108 KB) defines roles and responsibilities between the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, Division for ECI and the TEA within federal and state 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. 
  • Key Elements of Early Transition provides guidance for the smooth transition of children and their families who leave Early Childhood Intervention services and enter public school services.
  • Dual Enrollment: Families of three and four year olds in Texas have an option available to them called "Dual Enrollment." In Texas, children ages three and four may attend a private preschool and still receive services, such as speech therapy, through the public school. Texas made the decision to allow three and four year olds to be dually enrolled to give them more opportunities to interact with their typically developed peers.
  • Non-Categorical Early Childhood (NCEC): Under IDEA, younger students (ages 3-9) may be eligible for special education and related services under a broader disability category called “Developmental Delay.” In Texas, this category is called “NCEC.” It is for students aged 3-5 who have general delays in their physical, cognitive, communication, social, emotional, or adaptive development; and who, because of these delays, need special education and related services. In Texas, a child between the ages of 3-5 may be described as “NCEC” if he or she has been diagnosed as having one of the following: mental retardation, emotional disturbance, specific learning disability, or autism.  A determination of NCEC must comply with criteria set forth in federal and state law as described in the Non-Categorical Early Childhood framework of the Legal Framework for the Child-Centered Process Education Service Center Region 18. For more information on eligibility, please visit Texas Project First.   

Related Links 

Below are related links to outside resources for students with disabilities ages 3-5:  
  • The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, Division for Early Childhood Intervention Services serves Texas families who have babies and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays. A statewide listing of ECI Programs listed by county is available from ECI. 
  • Head Start is a child development program that has served low-income children and their families since 1965. The Head Start Bureau maintains this website as an electronic resource for Head Start service providers, parents, volunteers, community organizations, and others who share an interest in helping children look forward to a brighter future. 
  • 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 Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Child-Care Licensing Division is responsible for protecting the health, safety, and well-being of children who attend or reside in regulated child-care facilities and homes. 
  • Texas Project First has developed this parent-friendly, bilingual website to provide consistent, accurate information to help parents understand special education issues and become more effective participants in their child’s education process. This website is a project of the Texas Education Agency.