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Early Childhood Special Education Services

About Early Childhood Special Education

Early childhood special education is a state and federally mandated program for three and four year old children who are experiencing challenges in their learning and development and meet state eligibility criteria for special education and related services.

  • Eligible children are entitled to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. This is at no cost to the family.
  • Every school district, some through a local Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), provides special education services to young children. Currently over 8000 children receive individualized special education services in preschool. (December 2021 data)
  • Services are provided through school-based programs, community early childhood settings and/or Head Start programs.

Referrals of children with a suspected delay in development can be made to the local Child Find team where the family and child live. Learn more about Child Find.

Colorado's State Reporting to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) related to Preschool


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If you have problems with broken links or accessing the content on this page, please contact the Exceptional Student Services Unit at ESSU@cde.state.co.us. Please copy the URL link for this page into the email when referencing the problem you are experiencing.