Appendix A - Comparison of EI and Preschool Special Education

Program Components

Program Area

Early Intervention

Preschool Special Education

Purpose Provides family centered services to meet the developmental needs of eligible children. Provides special education and related services to meet the educational needs of identified preschool students with disabilities.
Lead Agency Responsible for the State Program New York State Department of Heath (DOH) New York State Education Department (NYSED)
Eligible Children

Eligible children are infants and toddlers ages birth through age two years who, through a multidisciplinary evaluation, are identified as having a developmental delay or a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay and meet the eligibility criteria established by the Department. 

Children who are found eligible for services under Section 4410 of the Education Law by their third birthdays can remain in the EIP until they age out under Section 2541(8) of the Public Health Law.

Eligible preschool students with disabilities ages three to five.  A preschool student with a disability is identified because of mental, physical or emotional reasons, based on the results of an individual evaluation which is provided in the student's native language, not dependent on a single procedure and administered by a multidisciplinary team.  (Section 200.1(mm)(1-2) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education)
Service Coordination The EIO designates an initial service coordinator to assist the family in the child’s evaluation and IFSP development.

The parent selects an ongoing service coordinator who is responsible for implementation of the IFSP, coordinates services, and assists the family in accessing other services and supports.

When a child’s IEP includes two or more related services only, the board of education must designate one of the service providers to coordinate the provision of services.  If the IEP includes special education itinerant services (SEIT) and one or more related services, the SEIT provider is responsible for the coordination of services.
Cost to Families No out-of-pocket costs to families.  Third party insurance is billed if the insurer is subject to New York State Insurance Law. No out-of-pocket costs to families.  The use of third party payment (using Medicaid or private insurance) is at the discretion of parents.
Service Availability Services must be available all year. Services must be available 180 days during the ten-month school year and at least 30 school days during July and August (when 12-month extended school year services are recommended for eligible children by the CPSE).

The multidisciplinary evaluation must include:

  • an evaluation/assessment of the child’s level of functioning in the following developmental domains:  physical development, including vision and hearing; communication development; cognitive development, social/emotional development; and, adaptive development.

  • A review of pertinent records related to the child’s current health and medical status, with parental consent.

  • A parent interview about the family’s resources, priorities and concerns related to the child’s development and developmental progress.

  • An assessment of the child’s unique needs in each developmental domain.

  • An evaluation of the transportation needs of the child.

At the family’s option, a family assessment may be conducted.

The individual evaluation must include:

  • a physical examination

  • an individual psychological evaluation

  • a social history

  • an observation of the student

  • other appropriate assessments as necessary to ascertain the factors which contribute to the suspected disabilities

  •  a functional behavioral assessment for a student whose behavior impedes his or her learning or that of others.


Evaluators Parents choose an evaluator from a list of providers approved by the NYSDOH to provide early intervention evaluations. Parents choose an evaluator from a list of evaluators approved by the NYSED to provide preschool special education evaluations.
Written plan of services

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).

A written plan is developed jointly by the IFSP team, which includes the parent, Early Intervention Official, service coordinator, evaluator, and other participants invited by the parent.


Individualized Education Program (IEP).  A written statement of the programs and services to meet the individualized needs of a preschool student with a disability, that is developed at a meeting of the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), which includes the child’s parent, a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, parent member, the CPSE chairperson, an individual who can interpret instructional implications of the evaluation results and other persons having knowledge or special expertise regarding the child.
Review of Individual Programs IFSP outcomes must be reviewed at six-month intervals and more frequently if needed.  The IFSP must be evaluated annually to determine the degree to which progress toward achieving the outcomes is being made and whether or not there is a need to amend the IFSP to modify or revise the services being provided or the anticipated outcomes. Progress in meeting IEP goals must be reviewed by the CPSE at least annually.  The CPSE, with the parent(s), describes in the IEP measurable goals, including short-term and long-term goals, and the manner and schedule for the parent(s) to be informed of the students' progress, at least as often as parents are informed of non-disabled students' progress.
Services Services designed to meet the developmental needs of eligible children and the needs of families related to their children’s development, including but not limited to, special instruction, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, social work, family counseling, family training, family support groups, psychological services, vision services, and nutrition services, as agreed to by participants in the IFSP meeting. Special education programs including special education itinerant teacher services, special classes in an integrated setting and special classes and/or related services.  Related services include, but are not limited to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
Where In natural environments, which include the child’s home and settings where children under three years of age are typically found including day care centers, and family day care homes. In the least restrictive environment (LRE) where age-appropriate peers without disabilities are typically found in a setting as close as possible to the student's home.