Early Intervention & Special Education

Please see below for more information on: 

Note: Specifics on this page refer to New York State, however, these services are available nation-wide. Please see your local department of education for more information.

Page Divider

Early Intervention Services (birth to age 3)

Early Intervention (EI) is:

  • A set of special education services designed to meet the needs of infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
  • A guarantee that your child with a disability or developmental delay will receive appropriate services from infancy through their entire schooling career.

If you are concerned about your child's development, the Early Intervention Program can provide an evaluation of your child at no cost to you.  The evaluation will assess your child's strengths and needs, and determine if your child is eligible for the Program. 

EI in More Detail

To be eligible for services, children must:

  • Be under 3 years of age
  • Have a confirmed disability or established developmental delay, in one or more of the following areas of development
    • Physical
    • Cognitive
    • Communication
    • Social-Emotional
    • Adaptive

Children who are over 2 years 11 months should be referred to the Committee for Preschool Special Education (CPSE). 

  • Family education and counseling, home visits, and parent support groups
  • Special instruction
  • Speech pathology and audiology
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological services
  • Service coordination
  • Nursing services
  • Nutrition services
  • Social work services
  • Vision services
  • Assistive technology devices and services

 

The EI process:

  • Begins with a referral from a parent, doctor, social worker, teacher, or caretaker. 
  • Requires parental permission and informed consent for each step in the evaluation and for the provision of services. 
  • Guarantees you the right to due process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). 

Call 311 and say that you want to refer a child to the Early Intervention Program or complete a referral form and fax to the Early Intervention Program regional office in the child's borough of residence: 

  • Bronx (718-410-4504)
  • Brooklyn (718-722-2998)
  • Manhattan (212-436-0902)
  • Queens (718-291-1981)
  • Staten Island (718-568-2341)

 

There is no direct cost to families for Early Intervention.  The program uses a child's insurance (if available) to help pay for services.  This will not affect or reduce a family's insurance benefits. 

Page Divider

Center for Preschool Special Education (CPSE) (ages 3 - 5)

Preschool Special Education is:

  • The set of services provided to children between the ages of 3 and 5 years.
  • A continuation of the Early Intervention services, if your child is already receiving them.  In that case, providers from your child's early intervention team would help you transition from EI to CPSE service providers.

CPSE in More Detail

The Center for Preschool Special Education (CPSE):

  • Begins when you, your pediatrician, or day care provider is concerned about your child's development. 
  • Requires a written referral to your school district's Committee on Preschool Special Education.
  • May lead to your child receiving an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to meet your child's needs. 
  • Requires parental permission and informed consent for each step in the evaluation and for the provision of services.
  • Guarantees you the right to due process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). 
Page Divider

Transitioning to Kindergarten

CPSE services end when your child turns five years of age, or enters Kindergarten. Services for elementary school children in need of special education supports are provided by the Committee on Special Education (SCE) of the NYC Department of Education.

Page Divider

Special Education (ages 5 - 21 years)

Special education is quality education for students who are not well served by the conventional school system.  These schools provide appropriate educational opportunities and challenges to meet the specific needs of their student population. 

  • In a supportive environment, students develop academic strategies and skills to reach their potential as confident and successful individuals and learners.
  • Special education programs require an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Psycho-Educational Evaluation as part of the admissions application. 

Special Ed in More Detail

Families who have children with special needs should feel the philosophy of the school will provide an environment in which their children will thrive.  Strong support from the director(s), faculty, and support teams should be evident, as well as open and direct communication. 

Additional questions to ask when considering a school:

  • What training and experience do providers have?
  • What method of teaching is being used at the school?
  • What is the teacher-to-student ratio?   
  • How are transitions for parents and students handled?
  • Will my child "fit in" with other students attending?
  • Is the provider's tone positive?  How is discipline handled?
  • Are there at-home visits?
  • Are there educational classes for parents or parent groups?
  • Who handles medication, if necessary?
  • What is the cost to a parent? Is there financial aid?
  • Is this site a NYC approved site for funding?
  • Where do children go after leaving this school site?
  • Does the school provide counseling for future school placement?
  • How many months of the year is this program?
  • Is busing provided?

Special education programs require an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Psycho-Educational Evaluation as part of the admissions application.

A recent evaluation by qualified professionals not only provides a detailed description of the child’s disability, but also makes specific recommendations about approaches, interventions, strategies, and methodologies that would benefit the child.

Independent schools for students with special needs tend to focus on serving specific needs.  It is important to review the school's website to confirm that your child's learning issues will be addressed. 

Financial Aid/Affordability

Note that independent special education schools tend to have a very high tuition due to the wide range of services offered within the school day as well as a very small teacher-to-student ratio.  Individual school websites will explain the school's financial aid policy and procedures. 

If the Committee on Special Education (CSE) team agrees with the parents that there is not an appropriate public school placement for a child, there are different ways by which the DOE will pay for a private school special education placement. 

 

Public School

There is a range of special education options that can be recommended in the public school system. District 75 is the division of the NYC Department of Education that seeks to provide appropriate standards-based educational programs with related support services to students with moderate to severe learning challenges. 

If the Committee on Special Education (CSE) team agrees with the parents that there is not an appropriate public school placement for a child, there are different ways by which the DOE will pay for a private school special education placement. 

Charter School

Students with disabilities are admitted to charter schools on the same basis as any other student.  The CSE is responsible for the evaluation, identification, and placement, and the development of the Individualized Education Program (IEP), of all children in charter schools. 

Page divider