Pre-school Services (Ages 3 – 5)

Once a child with an IDD reaches the age of 3, he/she can transition from an Early Intervention Program (EIP) to New York State’s Preschool Special Education program, which provides essential services like speech and occupational therapy to special needs children between the ages of 3 and 5 years of age. 

It is a “bridge” between the EIP and a formal Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in a school setting.  All counties in New York State, fully fund the preschool special education program. 

There is no income eligibly for families with children who need preschool special education and the services must be provided at no cost to them.

Developmental preschools or special needs preschools offer a full slate of services which can include (but are not limited to):

  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Developmental therapy
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists 
  • Early childhood education experts
  • Art therapists
  • Therapists who are specific to certain disabilities and special needs

In addition, developmental preschools are staffed with certified special education teachers and aides who are trained to best fit their students’ needs.

Students usually have to qualify to be accepted into a developmental preschool, so it is very important that parents check with your local school district or municipality to find out how children are evaluated.

Most students who attend a developmental preschool will need to have an Individualized Education Program (or Individualized Education Plan) both referred to as an IEP or an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) in effect for your child by their third birthday.

Parents do not determine whether their child is eligible under the law, however, parents are entitled to participate in the development of the IEP. Also, the findings of a school’s evaluation team are not final. You have the right to appeal their conclusions and determination. The school is required to provide you with information about how to make an appeal.

Once the child’s eligibility for enrollment in the program has been established, his/her parents will need to choose the school which he/she will attend.  From academics to socialization to transportation and even how long the school day is, there are a number of factors to consider when making this decision – one that needs to work for both you and your child.

For more information, visit:

Pre-School and Care Coordination

CCOs may provide Care Management services to pre-school aged children. CCOs work with the child’s family or caregivers to identify the supports that will benefit that child and/or their family. Care Management at this age is typically provided under provisional OPWDD eligibility and is redetermined around the age of 8. 

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