12 Early Childhood Special Education Services (ECSE)


Chapter Revision Date: 08/2018

12.2 Preschool Students 3-5 Years Old

12.3 ECSE Attendance and Enrollment Guidelines

The Early Childhood Special Education Services Program, provides a full range of educational programs and services to eligible children from birth to 5 years of age who have disabilities of all types and levels of severity. The Infant program serves children from birth to 3 years of age, and the Preschool program serves children aged 3.0 - 5 years of age.

12.1 Infant Program - birth to 3 years of age

SDUSD serves a limited number of infants birth to 3 through an interagency collaboration under California Early Start. Children are evaluated for services based on suspected area(s) of disability. An Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed for students who meet the eligibility criteria. Services are offered to families in their home or school setting based on the student assessment and team recommendations.

The California Early Intervention Services Act mandates that infants and toddlers with disabilities, or who are at risk of having disabilities, and their families, receive coordinated interagency services to enhance their development and to minimize the potential for developmental delays. The law further mandates that "to the maximum extent possible, infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families be provided with services in the most natural environment, and include the use of natural supports and existing community resources." Such children are eligible for services through the SDUSD ECSE Infant Program. The Infant Program provides programs and services that meet children and families' specific needs, following their Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) team's recommendations. Although not required to provide a continuum of program options, (as is required under Part B of IDEA), the Infant Program does offer a variety of program options for service, including: a Home program, a Home/School combination, an Itinerant Inclusion program, designated instructional services (related services), parent training classes, twice monthly parent support groups, and Baby and Me, and Toddler and Me parent participation groups. These twice monthly groups are conducted in Spanish and English at various locations throughout the district.

12.1.1 Home Program

A special education Early Intervention teacher establishes with the child's family a schedule of home visits, either with the teacher, a specialist, or a paraprofessional working under the teacher's supervision, and coordinates a program of services written on the family's IFSP. The professionals who provide the services become members of the transdisciplinary team, which may include a Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, and a teacher of the Visually Impaired.

The Early Interventionist monitors the development of the child and confers with the child's parents regarding problems and issues that may affect the child's educational development. The Interventionist may also work with the parents to identify particular activities and activity sequences by which they can encourage their child to develop desired skills and gain necessary experience.

12.1.2 Home/School Combination

The children of families who participate in this program are between the ages of 2 and 3 years old. In addition to taking part in the Home Program, often on a reduced schedule, these children take part in developmentally appropriate, play-based activity programs at an appropriate district or Early Head Start sites. Typically children attend these programs two mornings weekly. The activities are designed to promote learning among children with a wide variety of ability and skill levels. Children from the community who are developing typically are also enrolled in these sessions to provide age-appropriate models.

A team of professionals works with the children in the school setting, each member providing services in his or her area of expertise. This approach not only benefits the children directly, but also allows the professionals to learn teaching strategies and techniques from one another and to assure a consistent approach to teaching and learning.

12.1.3 Itinerant Inclusion Program

Infants with special needs may also be served in community preschools by special education Early Interventionists. The Itinerant Inclusion Program supports infants and toddlers with disabilities in their homes, public and private day care centers and community preschools. In such cases the inclusion teacher works directly with the children in the classroom and home contexts and provides information and support to day care providers and preschool teachers through regularly scheduled visits to their programs. Additionally, regularly scheduled visits to the parents' home or place of work are also scheduled.

12.1.4 Related Services

For dually eligible infants and toddlers who require the services of a specialist (e.g., occupational, physical therapies, nutrition, nursing, medical, etc.), the Regional Center is responsible for ensuring the provision of those services, with the exception of speech/language services, which the Infant Program must provide. Infant Program Specialists provide consultation services to children in their educational programs. If the child has only a low incidence disability such as Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Visually Impaired or Orthopedically Impaired, the Infant Program is responsible for providing all services, including respite.

12.1.5 Referral Procedures

To initiate a referral for Early Intervention service (special education):

  1. The child's family, physician, social worker, public health nurse, etc. contacts a local agency that receives state funding to provide early intervention services for infants and toddlers who have disabilities, including:

    • SDUSD, or other district infant programs (La Mesa/Spring Valley, Cajon Valley, Lakeside, HOPE Infant Programs)

    • San Diego Regional Center

    • Exceptional Family Resource Center

2. The LEA or agency that receives the referral call:

    • Explains the California Early Start program to the family

      • If the caller is someone other than the parent, the caller is asked to discuss the referral with the parent and ask the parent to call or request that the agency call the parent

    • Completes the Family Data Sheet with the parent, thus beginning the 45 day timeline during which eligibility must be determined and a meeting convened to share results of the evaluation and, if appropriate, develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

    • Person completing Family Data Sheet obtains verbal permission to share referral with SDRC, LEA, EFRC.

    • Mails to the parents the Early Start Intake Questionnaire (ESIQ), a Consent for Determines if the child is likely to have a solely low incidence disability

    • If it is determined that the child does not have a solely low incidence disability, the agency determines if the program is at "funded capacity" or has openings and can provide service to the referred child and family. If child does have low incidence disability, the appropriate LEA is contacted.

    • Completes the Family Data Sheet and submits it to the corresponding agency (Regional Center or educational agency) before the end of the next work day

    • Shares the referral at the next MARRT meeting, which meets twice monthly

  1. The Initial Service Coordinator (who may be from Regional Center or the ECSE Infant Program):

  • Makes contact with the child's family and schedules a home visit

  • Requests and gathers medical and other evaluation reports from outside agencies

    • Coordinates evaluations that need to be conducted

    • Evaluation is done with the family in the home to determine eligibility.

  • Provides copies of the ESIQ and evaluations to other IFSP participants, as needed

  • Schedules the IFSP meeting and invites the necessary participants, if child is eligible.

  • Exchange and/or Release of Information form, a resource list and relevant agency

12.1.6 IFSP Development

Following an evaluation, and within 45 calendar days of receipt of a referral of the infant or toddler for early intervention service, a meeting is convened to determine if the infant/toddler meets eligibility criteria for California Early Start. It is the responsibility of the Initial Service Coordinator to schedule the meeting at a time and location convenient to the family and assessment team. If the child is found to be dually eligible, an IFSP is developed by both the Regional Center and district staff.

Each infant or toddler and family determined eligible for early intervention services is provided with a Service Coordinator, generally through Regional Center. Students who only have a low incidence disability will have ESCE staff assigned as the Service Coordinator. The service coordinator is responsible for facilitating the implementation of the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and for coordinating with representatives from other agencies providing services to the family.

12.1.7 IFSP Review and Reassessment Procedures

The IFSP must be reviewed at least every six months, and documented on the Parental Consent and Procedural Safeguards form. The Service Coordinator, who may or may not be the Infant Program case manager, is responsible for scheduling and attending the review. Any changes made to the IFSP (e.g., changes in the level of service, addition or deletion of service, change in Service Coordinator, etc.) must be documented on the Parental Consent and Procedural Safeguards form. At the review, progress toward the child's and family's outcomes is reviewed as well as the appropriateness of the outcomes. Additional assessments or strategies to access additional services are indicated as part of the Outcome under Steps and Strategies.

12.1.8 Infant Transition

Transition of children from the Infant Program requires careful planning, preparation and ongoing communication between the child's parents and service providers. A goal of the transition process is to determine if the child is eligible for Part B services due to continued delays. To assure the smooth transition of children out of Early Start, the following steps are taken:

  1. Starting when the child is age 2.0, the Service Coordinator begins to discuss transition to services that will occur at age 3.0.
  2. Parents are encouraged to formulate their ideas, plans and questions about preschool.
  3. Between the ages of 2.6 and 2.9, a Transition Plan is developed with the family and the Service Coordinator. An Assessment Plan is developed with the family for review and to obtain permission to assess at 2.9.
  4. After the assessment is completed, an IEP meeting is convened prior to the child's third birthday.
  • If the child is eligible for special education service at age three (Part B of IDEA), an IEP is written, goals developed, needed programs and/or services identified, an appropriate placement is made and the transportation form is completed.

  • If a child is found not to be eligible for special education services at age three (IDEA, Part B), it is the responsibility of the transition team, composed of infant program and preschool staff, to identify, and share with the family, options, supports and resources available in the community.

  1. If the IEP indicates that the child will attend a district preschool separate (SDC) class, the infant teacher contacts the Preschool teacher to arrange for the parent to visit the new placement site.
  2. The Infant teacher and the Preschool teacher make a joint home visit to facilitate the transition.

12.1.9 Infant Interim Placements

If the Infant Program Is Not at Funded Capacity: If an infant/toddler and family have an IFSP which includes an educational program, and the Infant Program is not at funded capacity, the Infant Program will conduct a review of the previous IFSP (documented on the Periodic Summary of IFSP Review) and provide services in as similar a manner as possible to those on the child's previous IFSP.

If the Infant Program IS At funded capacity: If the Infant Program is at funded capacity, and the child does not have only a low incidence disability such as Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Visually Impaired or Orthopedically Impaired, the Infant Program representative will refer the child to the San Diego Regional Center for service, as it is the lead agency. If the child does have only a low incidence disability, the Infant program will provide service, regardless of its funded capacity


Jodi Read, Infant-Toddler Resource Specialist

858-272-9641 ex 135


Alcott B-1

12.2 Preschool Students 3 - 5 Years Old

Special Education services are available for preschool student's ages 3.0 - 5 years old in a variety of settings and programs. SDUSD receives referrals for special education assessments from many sources including parents/guardians, agencies and physicians. Referral documentation is gathered and if appropriate, an assessment plan is developed, parental/guardian consent is obtained and assessments are completed using a trandisciplinary approach. In the event the district chooses not to assess, parent/guardians are provided with a Prior Written Notice and Procedural Safeguards.

12.2.1 Referral for students aged 2.6 - 5 years old

  1. Students aged 2.6 - 5 years old who are suspected of having a disability may be referred for a special education assessment to the ECSE Intake Clerk at 858-490-8521.

    2. The Intake Clerk will complete the ECSE Intake Questionnaire and email/mail a packet that needs to be completed by the parent /guardian.

    3. The Intake Clerk will route the completed intake packet to the program manager for review.

    4. The program manager assigns the packet to: ECSE assessment for a full evaluation, preschool language group (PLG) for a speech only assessment or a PWN if assessment is not needed.

    5. If the student is assessed, an IEP meeting will be convened to review/discuss the results of the assessments. All legal timelines are the same for preschool referrals as for school-aged students.

12.2.2 Preschool Continuum of Services

Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI) and/or Related Services:

  • Itinerant: Special Education services are provided in a parent-selected and funded private/public preschool within the district boundaries.
  • General Education Classroom: A general education setting with a collaborating agency (i.e. Head Start or District Preschool For All locations) co-taught by a general and special education teacher team, and support personnel. Individualized goals and objectives, and instruction are developmentally age-appropriate and are based on the California Preschool Foundations and Framework.
  • Separate Classroom: A special education classroom with a special education teacher and support personnel. Individualized goals and objectives, and instruction are developmentally age-appropriate and are based on the California Preschool Foundations and Framework.
  • Preschool Language Group: This service is provided by the Speech-Language Department as a related service. Refer to Chapter 8, Related Services.

12.2.3 Preschool Students Transitioning to Kindergarten or Transitional Kindergarten:

A transition IEP is conducted for all students articulating to Kindergarten or Transitional Kindergarten (TK). The ECSE IEP team will conduct a transition assessment, develop a transdiscipinary report and a transition plan, and convene an IEP team meeting to review and discuss the results of the transition assessment.

Parents may agree or disagree to the IEP developed as a result of the transition assessment. In the event the parent disagrees with the "transition IEP," the IEP services that were last consented to and implemented will be implemented at the school site to which the student will naturally articulate in TK or Kindergarten.

12.2.4 Transportation

Preschool students placed in either a General Education Classroom or a Separate Classroom may be eligible for transportation as a related service. Special Education Transportation is an IEP team designated Related Service.(please refer to transportation section of the procedural manual)

Transportation as a Related Service is available only to students who

a) require transportation due to the severity of their disability, OR

b) who require transportation to access services not available at their school of residence.

If a student was previously placed at a non-neighborhood school by an IEP Team decision, transportation will be available until the student articulates from the school.

If the student qualifies for transportation as a Related Service, the ECSE Teacher will complete the F-12 and submit it to the ECSE office for processing.

  • All students who are under the 4 years of age and under 40lbs. must use a car seat when riding in a district vehicle.
  • If a student requires a safety vest, it must be documented on the IEP.
  • District transportation does not allow students to use a booster seat.
  • All changes/modifications to transportation must be documented on a new F-12 and submitted for processing. ECSE does not accept the Transported Student Form (TSF).

12.3 ECSE Attendance and Enrollment Guidelines

12.3.1 Students who come from Out of District

San Diego Unified School District as the District of Residence (DOR), is obligated to make Free an Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) available to all eligible children with disabilities aged 3-22 (34 C.F.R. 300.101). ECSE office will notify the school site and case manager of an out of district student placement and will email the IEP to the team. The district must offer the most like services for the first 30 days and the team just convene an IEP meeting within that timeline to make any necessary changes.

12.3.2 Students with Temporary Disabilities Instruction (Includes Students with an IEP)

The district has a program to provide individualized instruction to students who are temporarily disabled and who must remain at home, in a hospital or other residential health facility. If the hospital or health facility is located outside the student's school district, the student will be considered to be in compliance with the residency requirements for the school district in which the hospital or facility is located. The parents or guardians must notify the school district where the student is temporarily residing for individualized instruction for the student.

For specific information/procedures go Departments-Children and Youth In Transition, Home/Hospital Resources for Staff.

12.3.3 Students transferring from one ECSE site to another ECSE site within the District

When a student requires a new setting/classroom, conduct an IEP meeting when needed and request new setting/site through the Special Ed ECSE Assignments email address (ecse-assignments@sandi.net.). Once site has been provided, notify the parent, site registrar and instruct them to enroll in the new school/site. Notify the ecse assignments email that parent has accepted site, and forward student records to new site/case manager.

12.3.4 Moved Out of District

This process is used when a parent/family no longer resides within the boundaries of San Diego Unified School District. Use School Finder (https://www.sandiegounified.org/schoolfinder.) to confirm that family residence is not within SDUSD. Complete Exit in Electronic IEP System, notify ECSE office and site Registrar of student status, student file/records remain at site.

12.3.5 ECSE-School Attendance Requirements

San Diego Unified School District as the District of Residence (DOR), is obligated to make Free an Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) available to all eligible children with disabilities aged 3-22 (34 C.F.R. 300.101). Therefore, students aged 3-5 with an IEP must attend school regularly in order for the district to meet the requirements of IDEA.

School attendance is required by law. Education Code section 48200 of the State of California requires every child between the ages of 6-18 to attend school every day and on time. If a parent with a child aged 3-6 chooses to not enroll their child with an IEP in school then the district must considered the following options, to ensure that the district is meeting the guidelines of Child Find. Child Find guidelines state that each public school system is responsible to find children with disabilities in its area, and that each child with a disability is served appropriately, at no expense to the parent.

For additional information see district guidelines regarding attendance.

When a parent of a child with an IEP elects to not enroll or continue enrollment for a child aged 3-6, the IEP case manager must do the following:

o Make 3 attempts to contact the parent.

o If parent does not enroll the student within 30 days of notification of placement, complete a child find letter (see forms and links) and mail via certified mail.

o Complete exit packet in electronic IEP system and attach child find letter

o Email ecse-assignments@sandi.net to drop the student from databases

In the event that a student is exited via child find procedures and parents contact the ECSE department to enroll their student, the site will treat the IEP as an interim placement.

12.3.6 When a parent of a child with an IEP elects to not enroll or continue enrollment for a child aged 3-6, the IEP team must considered the following options:

Revocation of Services-ECSE

Option 1

Steps to follow when parent/guardian is choosing to revoke Special Education and Related Services:

  • District receives in writing, dated request by parent/guardian for Revocation of Services
  • District responds in a timely manner (1-2 weeks) with Prior Written Notice (PWN)-Option 1 (see example in forms/links)
  • See example to include critical components of PWN-use PWN in SEAS
  • Include Procedural Safeguards with PWN
  • Contact ECSE for further information and/or questions
  • Cease services for the student on date in PWN, drop student in PowerSchool, and notify ECSE of student drop due to Revocation of Services
  • Complete and submit Exit Packet in Electronic IEP System
  • Maintain student record/s at site

Option 2

Steps to follow when parent/guardian is choosing to not enroll and or attend, but has not provided district with request for Revocation of Services.

  • Child must be exited as a Revocation of Services after 30 days of non-attendance and or enrollment.
  • Case Manager/IEP team makes three attempts to contact parent to conduct an IEP as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days of non-enrollment and non-attendance.
  • If parent/guardian does not respond and or refuses to attend an IEP meeting, district responds in a timely manner (1-2 weeks) with a Prior Written Notice-Option 2 (see example in forms/links)
  • See example to include critical components of PWN-use SEAS PWN
  • Include Procedural Safeguards with PWN
  • Contact ECSE, for further information and/or questions
  • Cease services for the student on date in PWN, drop student in PowerSchool, and notify ECSE of student drop due to Revocation of Services
  • Complete and submit Exit Packet in Electronic IEP System
  • Maintain student record/s at site




Whittier Center B-27

3401 Clairemont Dr.

San Diego, CA 92117