The Virginia Department of Education provides leadership for early childhood programs in Virginia’s public schools. These programs provide a foundation for learning and academic success. School-readiness activities focus on phonological awareness, vocabulary, number sense and physical, motor and social development.
The Virginia Preschool Initiative distributes state funds to schools and community-based organizations to provide quality preschool programs for at-risk four-year olds unserved by Head Start. Risk factors include poverty; homelessness; parents or guardians are school dropouts, have limited education, or are chronically ill; stressful family issues such as episodes of violence, crime, underemployment, unemployment, homelessness, or incarceration; developmental problems including, but not limited to, developmental delays, low birth weight, or prenatal substance abuse; and/or the child is an English language learner.
Early Childhood Special Education (Part B of IDEA) and Early Intervention (Part C of IDEA), in Virginia, provide services for children from birth to Kindergarten age who qualify according to state and federal law. All localities in the state have services available for children in this age group who are eligible. Children ages 2-5 may be found eligible for Early Childhood Special Education services under one or more of 14 disability categories, which are defined in the federal and state regulations.
autism spectrum disorders
hearing impairment, including deafness
other health impairment
speech or language impairment
traumatic brain injury
visual impairment / blindness
Early Childhood Special Education services are provided by each local school division. The goals, settings, and supports to assist children increase knowledge and skills are different for each child. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) with goals and objectives to meet the child’s individualized needs is developed for every child eligible for Early Childhood Special Education. Further, the IEP includes the placement where services will be delivered to the child. A continuum of placements is available to meet the needs of the child and the least restrictive environment is always the first consideration. Children should be served in programs or places where typically developing peers would be, where they are already, or where the child would be by parent choice.
A curriculum that will help the child to learn and use skills consistently is an important component of an Early Childhood Special Education program. A curriculum in any high quality preschool program should be one that is developmentally appropriate for the child’s age and aligns with the Milestones of Childhood Development and Virginia Foundation Blocks for Early Learning: Comprehensive Standards for Four-Year-Olds. Additional curriculum resources include the Preschool Curriculum Review Rubric and Planning Tool and Indicators for Responsive Teaching: Creating a High Quality Preschool Learning Environment.