Guidance for Families about Special Education Services
When a parent, caregiver, doctor, or anyone else has a concern about a young child’s development, a referral can be made for a developmental evaluation. All evaluations and services are provided at no cost to parents.
Birth through Age Two:
Early Support for Infants and Toddlers is the early intervention program in Washington State serving eligible children from birth through the child’s third birthday. If there are concerns about a child's development (birth through age two), call: Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 to connect with local early intervention services.
Preschool (Ages 3-5): The local school district conducts evaluations for
children who are three to five years old. Early Childhood Special Education
(ECSE) services are available in every school district.
Essential Steps for Arranging a Developmental Evaluation (children ages 3-5)
- Contact the special education office in the local school district to
request an evaluation. Parents can also send a written request
for evaluation to the district’s Special Education department.
The school district determines if an evaluation is needed.
- If an evaluation is scheduled, the parent and child attend
the evaluation. This may include bringing the child to school
once or twice for a play-based evaluation conducted by qualified
professionals. Parents are asked to share information related to
their child’s development, health and medical history. The
evaluation will include the developmental areas of concern.
Children generally enjoy the evaluation session(s).
- Following the evaluation, a meeting will be scheduled to
discuss the evaluation results and determine if the child is
eligible for special education services.
Early Childhood Special Education Programs
If the child meets eligibility criteria for special education services, an
Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed. The IEP contains educational goals for the child and identifies where special education services will be provided. Early Childhood Special Education services may be delivered in a variety of settings, including: district-operated preschool programs, Head Start or Early Childhood Education and Assistance Programs (ECEAP), child care centers, or community preschool programs.
Required Data Collection
School districts are required to collect early childhood outcomes data on all children ages three to five who have an IEP (download a sample here). This information is collected when a child starts receiving special education services and again when the child transitions to kindergarten.
Family Training Webinar
Our Next Step - The Transition Process from Early Intervention Services at Age Three is a family training that guides families through the transition process from Part C of IDEA to Part B special education pre-school. This training was developed—in both English and Spanish—by Washington’s parent training and information center, called Partnerships for Action Voices for Empowerment (PAVE). It is designed by families for families and is intended to be used with the participant manual that can be downloaded from PAVE’s Web site.
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)
On this site you will find information and resources specific to preschoolers who receive special education services.
Technical Assistance Alliance for
This website contains information on the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act of 2004, the federal special education law. The Alliance center is a
partnership of national and regional parent technical assistance centers.
the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL)
Technical Assistance center for the social-emotional development of young
children, birth to age five. This website contains a Family Tools resource
section with information on how parents can support their child’s play skills,
social skills, ability to following directions, and communication skills.
Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI)
Technical Assistance center website with information for families, including
free handouts, brochures, booklets, briefs, and articles regarding young
children with challenging behavior.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Source of medical and health information.