What are preschool services and where are they located?
Michigan Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services include special instruction and related services provided to eligible young children, ages three through five.
Through its 57 Intermediate School Districts (ISDs) Michigan’s ECSE program 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. More information about preschool options can be found on our Preschool Transition page.
Who is eligible?
Young children ages three through five who have a disability (as defined by one of Michigan’s 13 categories) are eligible for preschool services provided through the local school system.
- Eligibility Categories
- In 2017, Michigan Department of Education issued Guidance on Eligibility for Michigan Mandatory Special Education, Birth to Three
- Determination of Eligibility for MMSE for Infants and Toddlers, Birth to Age Three – Introduction
- Determination of Eligibility for MMSE for Infants and Toddlers, Birth to Age Three – ECDD Guidance
- Determination of Eligibility for MMSE for Infants and Toddlers, Birth to Age Three – SLI Guidance
- Warning Signs for Communication Delays in the First Three Years of Life
How does a child become eligible?
Determining eligibility is the first step in the special education process. For step by step information, see our webpage for Evaluation.
What happens next?
Once a child has been determined eligible for services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed to determine the supports and services the child needs. 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.
- Please see our webpage for detailed information on the IEP.
Where are services provided?
When the IEP is developed and agreed upon by the IEP Team, it is essential to identify the setting. Services must be provided in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). LRE means that young children with disabilities should receive services in typical community-based settings and programs whenever possible, and only go to more restrictive or specialized settings when their individual needs require it. Appropriate settings for preschool children can include a preschool special education class, local preschool program or local Head Start program.
- A high-quality early childhood program is one that is inclusive of children with disabilities. Federal Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs OSEP
- Great Start Readiness Program is a state-funded preschool program. Development Delay is considered when figuring eligibility for GSRP.
- Head Start is a federally funded kindergarten readiness program for children under age 5. This includes Early Head Start for children under 3. Head Start regulations require at least 10 percent of enrollees are children with disabilities, and income requirements may be waived.
- Find a Head Start program near you.
- Great Start Connect program has a list of licensed preschools.
Wherever your child goes, the State of Michigan has compiled Early Childhood Standards of Quality for parents to consider when making their choice.
Where can I find more information?
Contact Michigan Alliance for Families for help and support.
- Birth to Three Information (including Transition) MAF
- Special Education Services for Preschoolers NICHCY Legacy
- Early Childhood Special Education MDE