Accessing Preschool Special Education Services



  1. How Do I Refer a Child for Preschool Special Education Services?

    Referrals for preschool age children (ages 3-5) must be made in writing to the Committee on Preschool Education (CPSE) in the school district where the child lives. The CPSE is part of the Committee on Special Education (CSE). The letter should be addressed to the CSE Chairperson. Click here for a list of CSE chairpersons and their contact information.

    The referral should list the child’s name, date of birth and address, and should contain contact information for the child’s parents. It should also talk about any specific concerns you have about the child’s development.


  2. What Happens After a Referral is Made?

    After a referral is made, the CPSE will send a packet with consent forms and evaluation sites to the child’s parent. The parent must choose an evaluation site and call to make an appointment. At the first appointment, the parent will sign consent for evaluations. When the evaluations are done, there will be a meeting to write an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP describes the services that the child needs.


  3. What is the Timeline for Completing Evaluations and Setting up Services?

    The CPSE has 60 school days from the date the child’s parent signs consent to evaluate the child and put all services in place.


  4. What Types of Evaluations Will be Done?

    Preschool age children receive the following evaluations:
    • Social history interview
    • Psycho-educational evaluation
    • Physical examination (usually done by the child’s pediatrician)
    • Classroom observation (only if the child is enrolled in a daycare or Head Start program)
    The parent or person who made the referral can ask for other evaluations such as Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Functional Behavior Assessment, etc.


  5. When is a Child Eligible for Preschool Special Education?

    Children are eligible for Preschool Special Education if:
    • They have a DISABILITY, such as autism, Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy, vision or hearing impairment; or
    • They have a DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY, which means a 12-month delay in one functional area, a 33% delay in one functional area, a 25% delay in two functional areas, a score of 2.0 standard deviations below the mean in one fuctional area or a score of 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two fundamental areas. Functional areas include gross motor, fine motor, communication, social-emotional, cognitive or adaptive development. The percent delay will be stated in the child’s evaluations.


  6. How Old Must a Child be to Receive Preschool Special Education Services?

    Children born between January and June are first eligible for preschool special education services on JANUARY 2nd of the year the child turns 3. Children born between July and December are first eligible for preschool special education services on:
    • JULY 1st of the year the child turns 3 if he/she needs 12-month services
    • SEPTEMBER 2nd of the year the child turns 3 if he/she only needs 10-month services.
    All children age out of preschool services on AUGUST 31st of the year they turn 5.


  7. What educational services are available for preschool students with disabilities?

    Related Services: Preschool students with disabilities may receive related services such as speech and language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling. These services can be provided at a preschool, daycare, therapist’s office, or home.

    Special Education Itinerant Teacher Services (SEIT): This service is provided by a special education teacher to address a child’s cognitive and academic delays. It can be provided at a preschool, daycare, therapist’s office, or home. If provided in a school setting, the teacher may work with the child in the classroom or pull him out of the classroom for one-on-one help.

    Special Class in an Integrated Setting: This is a preschool class where children who have disabilities are mixed together with children who do not. The class has at least one special education teacher and paraprofessional. A Special Class in an Integrated Setting can be for a full-day (5 hours) or half-day (2.5 hours), depending on the child’s needs.

    Special Class: This is a preschool class that only serves children with disabilities. The class size is usually quite small, between 5-12 children. There is at least one special education teacher and one paraprofessional in the class. A special class setting can be for a full-day (5 hours) or half-day (2.5 hours), depending on the child’s needs.


  8. What If I’m Told There Are No Available Preschool Programs?

    Ask the CPSE to look for a program outside of your region. If there are no placements in the entire city, ask to have the child placed on the Awaiting Placement Notification List (PN List). The CPSE should also write a partial service plan so that the child receives some services until a placement is found.


  9. Who Can I Ask for Help?

    Contact the Early Childhood Director Center in your borough by phone or email:

(January 25, 2012)