What Is Preschool Special Education?
The New York State Education Department oversees a statewide preschool special education program with school districts, municipalities, approved providers and parents. Evaluations and specially planned individual or group instructional services or programs are provided to eligible children who have a disability that affects their learning. Funding for these special education programs and services is provided by municipalities and the State.
If your child received early intervention services as an infant or toddler up to age three, and may still need special education, your service coordinator will assist you with transition planning and making a referral to the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE).
If your preschool age child (3-5 years old) did not receive early intervention services, but has some delays or lags in development such as difficulty in talking, moving around, thinking or learning; is facing physical challenges, you may make a referral to the chairperson of your school district's CPSE who will assist you in completing the referral process.
Please note: For ALL referrals to the CPSE, you must, first register your child in the district. Please see the Registration webpage for more information.
The CPSE must include the parent of the child, regular education teacher (if the child is or may be participating the regular education environment), special education teacher or related service provider, a representative of the local school district who serves as the chairperson of the CPSE, an individual who can interpret evaluation results, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise about the child, and a licensed or certified professional from the Department of Health's Early Intervention Program (for a child in transition from the Early Intervention Program). The Westchester County Department of Health must be notified of and invited to scheduled meetings; however the CPSE meetings can be held whether or not a representative attends.
When your child is referred to the CPSE, you will be given a list of agencies approved by NY State Education Department to provide preschool special education evaluations. You need to select one of the approved agencies and write it on the consent form, sign, date it and return to the Special Education Department so your child can be evaluated (at no cost to you or your family).
The CPSE will also give you a copy of the due process procedural safeguards notice. If your child's evaluation is not timely or, if you disagree with the evaluation results or the recommendations of the CPSE, you have a right to ask for an independent evaluation, mediation or an impartial hearing.
A copy of the evaluation report, including a summary of the evaluation, will be provided to you and to other CPSE members. You will be asked to meet with the CPSE to talk about the evaluation results and determine special education eligibility. If the CPSE finds your child is not eligible for special education programs and/or services, you will be given the reasons for the decision in writing.
CPSE Recommendation(s) and the Individual Education Program (IEP)
If the CPSE determines your child has a disability that may be affecting his/her learning, the CPSE will find your child to be an eligible "preschool student with a disability." The CPSE will also recommend related service(s) or a program to meet your child's individual needs.
If your child is an eligible preschool student with a disability, you and the other CPSE members will agree upon an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child that will list the services or program to be provided, how often, and for how long. The recommendations will be forwarded to your local school district Board of Education for approval.
Most children with disabilities can receive the special education services they need in settings with their non-disabled peers. They also should participate in developmentally appropriate activities. The CPSE must consider how to provide the services in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), where your child can learn close to your home with other children of the same age who do not have disabilities. Services may be provided at an approved or licensed pre-kindergarten or Head Start program, the work site of a provider the student's home, a hospital, a State facility or a child care location.
If approved by the school district, arrangements will be made for your eligible child to receive one or more of the following special education programs and/or services recommended by the CPSE including, but not limited to:
- Speech Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Assistive Technology
Programs Approved by SED
- Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) – a special education teacher works with a child in a setting recommended by the CPSE.
- Special Class in an Integrated Setting (SCIS) – a class with preschool students with and without disabilities.
- Special Class (SC) – a class with only children with disabilities.
Progress Reports and the Annual Review
When you and the CPSE write your child's IEP, you will decide how and when you will be informed of your child's progress.
Progress can be reported to you by regular phone calls from the teacher or service provider, notes and comments in a shared notebook &/or formal progress reports which tell how your child is progressing toward IEP goals and whether your child is expected to meet the goals on the IEP by the dates planned. Progress reports must be provided at least as often as they are for children in a regular program.
State law and regulation require that your child's IEP be reviewed at least once a year. If needed, you, the CPSE, or the preschool program provider may also ask for a meeting to discuss or review your child’s program any time during the school year.
When the CPSE is planning programs and/or services for your child, they must also consider your child's transportation needs, including the need for specialized transportation.