Early Childhood Special Education

Early Childhood Special Education is a state and federally mandated program for three, four, and five year old children with developmental delays or disabilities, who are not old enough for kindergarten.

These laws are intended to ensure that all young children who require special education are provided a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment, in accordance with their individual needs. The educational needs of these children (because of a disability or developmental delay in the area of cognition, communication, social/emotional development, physical development and/or adaptive functioning) are not able to be met without special education and related services.

This group includes preschool children who are delayed or who have Autism Spectrum Disorders, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbances, hearing impairments, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, traumatic brain-injury or visual impairments.

Preschool children with disabilities who meet eligibility criteria may receive services upon reaching their third birthday. Every school district or special education collaborative provides early childhood special education services. Currently approximately 2,900 (2012 data) 3-5 year olds receive individualized special education preschool services though school-based programs, across a continuum of educational environments.

Rhode Island’s Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education (IECSE) Service Delivery Model

Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education (IECSE) is a research based service delivery model for providing special education services to young children with disabilities within general early childhood settings.  It serves as an alternative to the provision of services within separate settings, classes or schools. The IECSE model allows young children with disabilities to actively participate in all classroom based activities by embedding the necessary supports, services, and interventions.

In alignment with the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services and the U.S. Department of Education’s Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs, RIDE is pleased to announce an opportunity for Early Childhood Special Education Programs to participate in the 2017-2018 Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education (IECSE) Technical Assistance Initiative. Participating teams of early childhood special education coordinators, teachers, and therapists, along with their general education partners, will receive at least one year of targeted and individualized technical assistance to bridge the gap between theory and practice and to support the implementation of itinerant special education services. LEAs interested in participating must complete an application and it return it electronically by June 30, 2017.

In addition to the opportunity for technical assistance, RIDE provides professional development for early childhood special educators and their general early childhood partners.  For information on upcoming professional development opportunities and registration through eride, please click on one of the links below. 

Participating districts and early childhood partners are welcome to join the monthly IECSE Community of Practice Meetings provided at The Center for Early Learning Professionals in Warwick, RI.

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