What is it? The Special Education Preschool Program is a federally mandated and funded service. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) makes a range of educational opportunities available to children with moderate to severe disabilities who are three and four years old. The program is managed by the child’s School District with financial oversight provided by the Saratoga County Public Health Services. The district does not operate nor supervise any preschool services. Children are served at any one of several county-approved private agency sites in the area, or through home-based and community-based programs. Saratoga County encourages parents to provide transportation to their children, offering reimbursement for mileage costs.

Who is eligible? Any child age between the ages of 36 months (3 years) and 60 months (5 years) residing in Saratoga County who is experiencing significant difficulties or delays in development, whether physical, mental, or emotional, can be referred to the appropriate school district for service. Areas of concern can include difficulties in developing speech and language skills, thinking skills, motor skills or social skills. An assessment is conducted by a state approved evaluation agency to determine if a child qualifies for the Special Education Preschool Program.

What services are available?

  • CORE Assessment: A developmental evaluation of a child’s language skills, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive ability, social/emotional skills and adaptive skills is conducted. Parents are interviewed to assess family needs. Screening and evaluation procedures include a review of relevant social, economic, cultural, medical and nutritional factors that affect the child’s growth and development. The preschool assessment will identify a child’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Committee On Special Education: A multidisciplinary team consisting of evaluators, parents, teachers, and other professionals with knowledge of the child who review the evaluations, determine eligibility for services and programs. This committee reviews each student referred for special education services.
  • Home-Based and Agency Services: An individualized education plan (IEP) for children and their families is written at the CPSE meeting. Services are then provided either in the child’s home or at an approved agency. Planned curriculum is provided as a guide for parents and caregivers in educating the child. Certified practitioners in specialized areas may provide home-based services. Specialized services may also be provided at an agency approved to provide specialized services to a child. These services include Special Education Itinerant Services, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy.
  • Community-Based Services: The providers may travel to home or childcare centers, Head Start centers, or other community settings to provide services to the child, consult with the staff, and modify curriculum or materials.
  • Classroom-Based Services: The child’s total program is provided in a special education preschool class. Classes are located at approved agencies in the area. Transition Services: Program staff work to ensure a smooth transition from the early intervention program sponsored by the Department of Health to the preschool system and from the preschool program into the school-aged classroom.

What does it cost? All services provided through the Special Education Preschool Program are offered at no charge. Funding is provided through federal, state, and local sources through Saratoga County Public Health Services.

How do I access services for my child? Parents, medical practitioners or community agencies may refer a child to this program. A referral form signed by the parent is required to begin the referral process. To obtain a referral, or for additional information, contact the CPSE Chairperson in your school district.  See the listing of CPSE Chairpersons in Saratoga County School Districts

To determine if your child is a candidate for assessment, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my child’s learning delayed, or does he/she seem to learn more slowly than other children?
  • Does my child have trouble walking or using his/her arms?
  • Does my child have trouble seeing?
  • Does my child not talk or talk very little?
  • Is my child difficult to understand when he/she speaks?
  • Does my child often not respond when you talk to him/her, or do I have to repeat things frequently?
  • Does my child get upset easily, cry a lot, have temper tantrums, sleeping problems or other behaviors that concern me?
  • If the answer is yes to any of these questions, the Special Education Preschool Program may be able help.

For additional questions contact the Saratoga County Public Health Services 518-584-7460.  We can also be reached if you are interested in becoming a contracted evaluator or service provider for preschool students in Saratoga County.