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Special School District of St. Louis County

Early Childhood

To assess the value of early childhood special education (ECSE), one only has to look at student outcomes:
  • Statistics show that more than 20 percent of students who graduated from the SSD ECSE program in 2012 went on to kindergarten requiring no further special education services.

  • Also according to the data, children who receive ECSE services often are able to be placed in less restrictive environments when they reach grade school, and the chances of a child having to receive special education services long-term are greatly reduced.

ECSE history

SSD began its Early Childhood Special Education program more than 30 years ago to serve students with severe multiple disabilities. In 1991, the district began providing services to preschool students with low to moderate disabilities. Today, more than 1,300 children ages 3 to 5 years receive special education services through the SSD Early Childhood program.

How is ECSE provided?

SSD provides early childhood special education services to students at 14 of the 22 public school districts in St. Louis County. The remaining eight school districts – Clayton, Ferguson-Florissant, Hazelwood, Kirkwood, Mehlville, Pattonville, Rockwood and University City – provide their own ECSE services, which includes hiring their own staff and evaluating children for eligibility. Parents who live in one of these districts who have concerns about their preschool-aged child should contact the Parents as Teachers staff at that district.

In districts in which SSD provides early childhood special education, preschool-aged children who might need special education services are referred to SSD by the child’s local school district, either through the Parents as Teachers program or First Steps, a federal early-intervention program for children from birth to age 3 years. In addition, parents can make a referral. After a child is referred to SSD, the child is evaluated by SSD diagnostic staff. If it is determined that the child qualifies for special education services, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is written. Learn more about the IEP process.

View ECSE locations.

arrow For general questions about early childhood special education, contact Debbie Crowder at 314.989.8411 or by e-mail at
Early Childhool Special Education
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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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