Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services are provided for all children ages 3 to 5 with educational disabilities as outlined in Missouri’s State Plan for Special Education. The district is required by law to provide a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment for eligible students on their third birthday. Certificated staff work closely with families and community resources to enhance the learning of young children.

The Early Childhood Special Education program identifies and educates students who may have significant gaps in development in one or more of the following areas: physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional, or adaptive. If you are a parent/guardian of a child between the ages of 3 to 5 and suspect the child may have a developmental delay or handicapping condition that may affect him/her educationally, and the child resides in the Dexter Public School District, please contact Southwest Elementary at #614-1015 and leave your name and contact information for a return call from one of our ECSE staff members.

Screenings are conducted throughout the school year. Once an appointment is scheduled, the parent/guardian will need to bring the child’s 1) birth certificate (verification only), 2) social security card/number, 3) Medicaid number (if child has one), and 4) First Steps information (if child has been involved with First Steps). During the screening process, the ECSE staff will interview parents and observe the child and use developmentally appropriate screening tools to assess the child. If the screening indicates it is necessary to further evaluate, a team of professionally certified staff will conduct a comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation. The staff will review the results of the evaluation with parents, and as a team, determine if the child meets eligibility for services. If eligibility is determined, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be developed to address the specific services the child will need.

If a child has been in the First Steps Program, the district will be involved at least six months prior to the child’s third birthday. All evaluative/diagnostic procedures shall be followed in determining the student’s eligibility for ECSE services.