Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

Services for Texas Students with Disabilities Ages 3-5

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is a federal and state mandated program for young children with disabilities.  It refers to the range of special education services that apply specifically to children between the ages of 3 and 5, prior to kindergarten. Eligible children with disabilities, ages 3-21, are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) in accordance with their individual needs. In Texas, services for eligible children with disabilities ages 3-5 are provided free of charge through the public-school system. Eligible children may receive Early Childhood special education services in a variety of settings such as Pre-Kindergarten, resource, and self-contained classrooms or in community settings such as Head Start and pre-school.


Guiding Principles for ECSE

The mission of ECSE is to promote an understanding of the importance of intervention during the most critical developmental years of a child’s life while providing for their communicative, academic, cognitive and social success in the least restrictive setting.  By providing services and supports, programs will move children closer to age-expected functioning by looking at integrated behaviors or skills that allow the child to achieve functional outcomes across domains and situations by addressing:

  • Positive social-emotional skills

    1. Acquisition and use of knowledge and skills

    2. Use of appropriate behaviors to meet their need