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Early Childhood Special Education Services
New information about preschool special education services and universal preschool (UPK)
- Special Education and Universal Preschool in Colorado
- CDE Standards for Placement of Preschoolers with IEPs in Educational Programs - January 2023
- FAQ: Special Education and Universal Preschool in Colorado (PDF) - January 2023
- Memorandum of Understanding (PDF) - Between The Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Early Childhood For Preschool Special Education Services In Accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004, the Exceptional Children's Educational Act (ECEA), and Colorado’s Universal Preschool Program Act - February 2023
Joint messages from CDEC and CDE will provide periodic updates on issues related to the implementation of UPK Colorado and serving students with disabilities within the new preschool system.
Submit an application for UPK Colorado at the CDEC website for the 2023-2024 school year - this link will be taking you away from the CDE webpages.
About Early Childhood Special Education
Early childhood special education is a state and federally mandated program for three and four year old children who are experiencing challenges in their learning and development and meet state eligibility criteria for special education and related services.
- Eligible children are entitled to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. This is at no cost to the family.
- Every school district, some through a local Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), provides special education services to young children. Currently over 8000 children receive individualized special education services in preschool. (December 2021 data)
- Services are provided through school-based programs, community early childhood settings and/or Head Start programs.
Referrals of children with a suspected delay in development can be made to the local Child Find team where the family and child live. Learn more about Child Find.
Colorado's State Reporting to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) related to Preschool
- Preschool Outcomes reports on preschool children aged 3 through 5 with IEPs who demonstrate improvement in three child outcome areas.
- Early Childhood Settings in Preschool reports on placements in Least Restrictive Environments for children with IEPs aged 3 through 5.
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If you have problems with broken links or accessing the content on this page, please contact the Exceptional Student Services Unit at ESSU@cde.state.co.us. Please copy the URL link for this page into the email when referencing the problem you are experiencing.
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