Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) - Ages 2-5

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Preschool-aged children with a disability in need of specially-designed instruction may be eligible for Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services to support development and school readiness.


Preschool-aged children from age two (whose birthday falls on or before September 30) through five with a disability may be eligible for Early Childhood Special Education services under one or more of 13 disability categories, which are defined in the federal and state regulations:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blind
  • Emotional disability
  • Hearing impairment
  • Learning disability
  • Intellectual disability
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment/blindness
  • Developmental delay

Early Childhood Special Education services are provided by local school divisions. Local school divisions’ Special Education Departments should be contacted for specific information about their programs. to find school division information, refer to the Virginia public school division directory.

Special Education Process

The determination that a child is eligible for special education and related services shall be made on an individual basis. When completing the Eligibility Process, the local educational agency is required to use information from a variety of sources, including observations, assessments, parent input and teacher recommendations, as well as information about the child’s physical condition, social or cultural background and adaptive behavior. 

Data Collection & Reporting

In Early Childhood Special Education, there are three performance indicators required by the VDOE Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). School divisions are required to submit information and data for reporting, monitoring and compliance purposes.