Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is a state and federally mandated program for children (ages 3-5) who meet state eligibility criteria
because they are experiencing developmental delays. School districts and other public agencies are responsible for locating, identifying and evaluating eligible children and offering a free & appropriate public education (FAPE). Eligible children are entitled to a FAPE at no cost to the family. If a child is eligible, the public school district of the child must offer services to meet their identified needs to access the general education curriculum.
When a delay is suspected, or children are not meeting milestones, local school districts offer Child Find services to observe and evaluate children's play, communication, behavior, learning and movement skills. Please visit the Child Find resource page for further information about this service or call your local school district to request a screening. Currently there are over 10,300 children receiving special education services (2020 data). To support programs offering preschool special education services, the Early Childhood Special Education unit provides technical assistance and professional development to practitioners across the state.
The Early Childhood Special Education unit, as part of Exceptional Student Services, supports its mission to ensure that public education agencies in Arizona have special education programs, policies, and procedures that comply with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations, and that eligible children and youth with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The unit provides professional learning opportunities and provides technical assistance to schools with best practices in early childhood education through its Program Specialists. Contact us if you have questions or needs regarding special education programs and services for preschool aged children, or call your Early Childhood Program Specialist from the list below.
Currently offerered are tailored resources to support preschool administrators, early childhood educators, both teachers and related service providers, and families, to support understanding of special education and all it has to offer. Resources are being developed for major early childhood topics such as Child Outcomes, Preschool Environments, and Preschool Transitions.
Early Childhood Events
Administrator Resources Educator Resources Parent Resources
Early Childhood Special Education Staff: