Moving to Preschool

Getting Started

Preschool special education services can support children ages three to five with disabilities or delays in development. These services are provided free of charge to families. Preschool services can help support a child’s learning, speech and language, physical development, social-emotional skills, and other areas.

Preschool services can start the year a child turns 3 years old. How the process begins will depend on whether

  • The child received Early Intervention (EI) services;
  • The child is attending a preschool program; or
  • The child is in another childcare setting.


If you are concerned about your child’s development, you can write a letter to your local CPSE. This letter is called a referral and it must be made in writing. In the referral you should

  • Say that you are requesting a preschool special education evaluation;
  • Provide your child’s full, legal name and date of birth;
  • Describe any specific areas of concern about your child’s development;
  • List any services that your child has received in the past;
  • Provide your full contact information, including your name, an address, and a telephone number where the CST can reach you; and
  • State your preferred language if it isn’t English.

After a referral is made, you will receive a referral packet, which includes

  • A notice the referral was received;
  • A list of evaluation sites;
  • A consent for initiative evaluation form;
  • Information about your rights; and
  • A medical form.


Once you receive the referral packet, you should choose an evaluation site and set up an appointment. If your child speaks a language other than English, make sure you choose a site that offers bilingual evaluations. You will be asked at the first appointment to provide your informed, written consent for your child to be evaluated. If you choose not to consent in writing to the evaluation, your child will not be evaluated.

An initial evaluation includes:

  • A psychological evaluation that looks at what your child knows and at his or her cognitive abilities;
  • A social history intervention, which provides background on your child’s developmental and family history;
  • A physical evaluation, which is a health examination form often completed by your child’s doctor;
  • An observation of your child in his or her currently school or childcare location; and
  • Any other assessments needed to determine the physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional factors that contribute to your child’s suspected disability.