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Early Childhood Special Education

This program provides early intervention to young children, age birth to kindergarten, who show developmental delay in the area/s of:

  • Cognitive
  • Speech and language
  • Large and fine motor skills
  • Adaptive/functional skills
  • Vision or hearing losses
  • Social/emotional skills

After a child receives a formal evaluation to identify specific needs, trained ECSE teachers and specialists will work with the parents and child to develop his or her greatest potential. From birth to age 3, these Special Education services are delivered to the child primarily in his or her home or child care center within the Orono district. From age 3 to kindergarten, children receive these services through Early Learning Programs at Discovery Center in Maple Plain.

The Early Childhood Special Education process includes consistent parental collaboration and communication. Parents/guardians are essential members of the ECSE team. From birth to age 3, a child’s education is outlined in the “Individual Family Service Plan” or IFSP. After age 3, the child’s educational goals and objectives are spelled out in his or her “Individual Education Plan” or IEP. Parents are a key team member in putting together the IFSP and IEP.

The ECSE staff supports children and their families by:

  1. Helping children do the best they can through individualized program plans (IFSP and IEP) geared to promote development, based on each child’s assessed level of function and need.
  2. Supporting and educating families to help promote the abilities and work with the challenges of children who have special needs.
  3. Providing parents with information about community-based experiences for their children.


Parents can request an educational evaluation if they have concerns about their child’s development. Evaluations are provided by the school district at no cost to the family. Referral is the first step of the Early Childhood Special Education process. When a referral is made, an ECSE teacher will discuss the concerns with you. If concerns persist, an evaluation will be developed to determine your child’s eligibility and specific needs.

If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact:

  • Birth-2 years: Contact Peggy Adam by phone at 952-746-5814 or by email at You can also call direct to the Special Education office at 952-449-8371.
  • 3-6 years: Contact Peggy Adam by phone at 952-746-5814 or by email at You can also call the Special Education office directly at 952-449-8371.
  • Early Childhood Screening is a Minnesota requirement of all children before they reach kindergarten. Early Childhood Screening is conducted as an early look at a child’s development. Screening is provided at no cost to the family. Children identified through the screening may be referred to ECSE for further evaluation. Please call 952-746-5815 for more information about screening.


Help Me Grow Minnesota

Minnesota’s Help Me Grow initiative provides information and resources that will help parents, professionals and community members identify children who may be experiencing delays in their development. Help Me Grow provides information that will equip those who interact with young children (birth to kindergarten) to better monitor each child’s development.

When developmental concerns arise, individuals are encouraged to make a referral online at or by calling 1-866-693-GROW (4769). Eligible children and their families receive high-quality infant/toddler intervention or preschool special education services from local qualified professionals.

DC Developmental Milestones

This site provides information on developmental milestones for children. There are resources for development and what to do if you have concerns.

NAEYC Collection of Resources for Families

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has developed a new Web page providing a collection of resources specifically for families. The new page features Families Today, a column  by Doctors T. Berry Brazelton and Joshua Sparrow, information on quality child care and preschool programs, and resources to support development.

Zero to Three

Zero to Three is a national, nonprofit organization that informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.