What is the Preschool Special Education Program?

The preschool special education program is part of a national law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA states that children with disabilities or developmental delays have the right to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). The law provides services for children ages 0-3 (Early Intervention), ages 3-5 (preschool special education), and ages 5-21 (school-age special education). 

Preschool special education services are available for children ages 3-5 who have disabilities or developmental delays that impact their ability to learn. These services are provided to eligible children free of charge by the New York City Department of Education (DOE). Special education services can help to address concerns that you have about your preschool child’s learning, speech, physical development, or behavior, among other areas. 

Your child may be eligible for preschool special education services if he or she shows a significant delay in any of the five areas of development:

  • cognitive (thinking and learning);
  • communication (understanding and using language);
  • physical/motor (vision, hearing, and movement);
  • social/emotional (getting along with other people); and
  • adaptive/self-help (independent living skills, such as toileting, eating, and dressing).

Information partly from Advocates for Children of New York

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