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Early Childhood Special Education

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services are designed for children from age three until the child's seventh birthday.  Children can qualify for services under the ECSE criteria until the child turns seven.

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services begin with a developmental evaluation. This evaluation documents a child’s skills in a variety of areas such as cognition, motor, social-emotional, language-communication, and/or adaptive (self-help) development. There are also certain conditions and medical diagnoses that automatically qualify a child for ECSE services. For example, a qualifying condition/diagnoses is one that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay and the child currently demonstrates a need.

In Minnesota, Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services are provided through the public school system. Districts within the state of MN often refer to these services as the Help Me Grow Program.

Early Childhood Screening

What is Early Childhood Screening?

Early detection and intervention makes a difference in the lives of young children.

Did you know that the State of Minnesota requires that all children participate in a developmental screening before entering public kindergarten programs? The Rochester School District provides a comprehensive Early Childhood Screening for any child three years of age and older at no charge. During an Early Childhood Screening, Early Childhood Screening staff will check your child’s: Vision, hearing, growth, immunizations, and skills in thinking, communication and language, large and small muscles, and social and emotional development.

There is no cost for the screening and it is funded by the State of Minnesota.

Parents/Guardians must attend the screening with their child. Language interpretation is provided upon request.

Early Childhood Intervention

What is Early Childhood Intervention?

Early intervention (EI) services are designed for children between birth and three-years-old. 

In Minnesota early childhood intervention services are provided through the public school system under the umbrella of Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE). Your child may qualify for services if they are experiencing delays in their development, including special health conditions. The Rochester Public Schools can provide services to help foster development and growth of your child's skills in cognition, fine and gross motor, social-emotional, adaptive, and speech/language development. Services are provided for children from birth through age six who are found to be eligible through formal evaluation.

Services for eligible children ages birth to age three are provided in their natural environment.  These settings are unique to each family and might include the home, child care and other community settings.  Parent education is also a part of the individualized plan of services for children ages birth to three. Services for children ages three through six are provided in a school setting, typically preschool and/or kindergarten.

Entrance into early intervention (EI) services begins with a developmental evaluation. This evaluation documents a child’s skills in a variety of areas such as cognition, motor, social-emotional, language-communication, and/or adaptive (self-help) development. There are also certain conditions and medical diagnoses that automatically qualify a child for EI services if they are known to have a high probability of resulting in developmental delay even if the child is not currently demonstrating a need.

In Minnesota, early intervention services are provided through the public school system under the umbrella of Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE). Districts within the state of MN often refer to these services as the Help Me Grow Program.

Parent Rights and Procedural Safeguards

What are Procedural Safeguards? 

The Procedural Safeguards Notice provides an overview of parental rights for parents of children receiving special education services. The Procedural Safeguards Notice is sometimes called “Parent Rights”.

Procedural Safeguard Notice

What happens after a referral is made?

A school district assessment team reviews the referrals and meets with parents to discuss the evaluation process. Upon receiving written consent, the evaluation is conducted to determine if the child meets the eligibility requirements for ECSE services. If the child is eligible, a case manager (typically a teacher with a license in Early Childhood Special Education) is assigned to work with the family. Depending on the child’s needs, additional service providers may be included on the child’s team. The team members could include a physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist, county public health nurse or social worker, vision or hearing specialist, or other providers. Parents are also a very important part of their child’s team. 

What happens next?

After the assessment is completed, the team, which includes the parents, will meet to identify goals and develop an individualized plan of services to support the child (called an Individual Education Program or IEP). Services for children ages three through six are provided in a school setting, typically preschool and/or kindergarten. 

Services for children ages birth through two are provided in their natural environment, such as their home or childcare setting. 

Contact Us:

Koni Grimsrud
Assistant Director of Special Education,
Early Childhood Special Education
(507) 328-4903 | Email
Kim Welsh
ECSE Coordinator
(507) 328-4902 | Email