Early Childhood Special Education Services

  • What are Early Childhood Special Education Services and where are they located?

    Allegany County Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Services include special instruction and related services provided to young children, ages three through five, who qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA, Part B, Section 619). ECSE ensures the provision of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all eligible children at no cost to their families, and in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). LRE means that young children with disabilities should receive services in typical community-based early childhood settings and programs whenever possible, and only go to more restrictive or specialized settings when their individual needs require it.
    Who is eligible?

    Young children ages 3 through 5 who have a disability as defined by one of the categories listed below are eligible for preschool services provided through Allegany County Public Schools.
    • Autism
    • Emotional Disturbance
    • Deaf
    • Multiple Disabilities
    • Other Health Impairment
    • Speech/Language Impairment
    • Visual Impairment
    • Deaf-Blindness

    How does a child become eligible?

    The ECSE diagnostic clinic accepts referrals from parents-, physicians, nurses, social services and health related agencies on children who are suspected of having any of these disabilities, regardless of severity.

    In order to determine the special needs of any child, an individualized evaluation of skills is necessary. Parental permission is necessary to proceed with any evaluation. Assessments in the areas of speech and language, cognitive abilities, fine and gross motor skills, and hearing and vision may be completed by speech and language pathologists, special education teachers, occupational-and physical therapists, and hearing and vision technician. A medical history is gathered.

    Following completion of assessments, the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Team, of which parents are essential members, meets to review and discuss findings in order to make a determination of eligibility under one of the established disability categories.

    What happens next?

    Once a child is determined to have a disability, the IEP Team works together to develop the IEP, a written document identifying the special education and related services necessary to support the child's development and educational program. The IEP allows everyone with a role in teaching and nurturing the child to understand what the child will need to grow and prosper, and the particular role they can play as a supportive member of the child's team.

    Services identified on an IEP might include special instruction, speech and language therapy, physical and occupational therapy, assistive technology devices and services, psychological services, and other services identified by the IEP Team as necessary for the child to benefit from participating in an educational program.
    The following is a list of "rule of thumb" responses to be expected by certain ages. The list is general and should be used only as an indicator of the possibility of potential disabling conditions. If you have a concern, please seek help.

    By 2-3, years of age, a child identifies objects by functions; understands prepositions and adjectives (like the words in, on, big, little); uses 2-4 word sentences; builds a vocabulary to around 900 words; uses adjectives, prepositions, and pronouns; and walks up and down stairs using alternating feet.By 3-4, years of age, a child listens to stories, follows two commands, matches and sorts objects, remembers recent events, asks a lot of questions, speech is understandable, tells stories, vocabulary increases to around 1,500 words, counts to 3, and balances on one foot for short periods of time. By 4-5, years of age, a child follows 3-part commands, understands opposites, uses complete sentences, counts to 10, uses how and when questions, names items In a category (fruit, animals, clothing), has few sound errors in speech, throws a ball overhand and catches a large ball that has been bounced. 

    Where can services be provided?
    After the IEP is developed and agreed upon by the IEP Team, the next important step in the process is to identify the setting, or Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), in which the child's special education and related service needs can be met. Appropriate LRE settings for preschool children can include a preschool special education class in (or closest to) the neighborhood school, a general education preschool program, local Head Start program, private preschool, child care center, or another early childhood setting available within the community.
    What are procedural safeguards and why are they important?
    Procedural Safeguards are policies established to ensure and protect the basic rights of children receiving special education and related services. Parents receive a copy of the Procedural Safeguards as part of every IEP Team meeting, and should be encouraged to ask questions about any of the policies and procedures as well as concerns they may have about their child's program.
    For additional information, who can I contact?
    Kathleen Eirich
    Elementary Assistant Supervisor of Special Education
    Allegany County Public Schools
    P.O. Box 1724
    108 Washington Street
    Cumberland, MD 21502
    Phone: 301-759-2051
    Janie L. Bucy
    Coordinator, Birth-5
    Allegany County Public Schools
    Family Support Services
    3 Pershing Street, Suite 316
    Cumberland, MD 21502 
    Phone: 240-920-6829