Delaware’s Early Childhood Education System
Young children under the age of 5 typically receive services through “Part C” under the Department of Public Health, or through “Part B” under the Department of Education. This depends on whether they receive an “educational classification” of ASD before age 5.
Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) supports a statewide, coordinated system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and/or developmental delays and their families. Child Development Watch (CDW) provides the services funded by the Part C Early Intervention System for children from birth to age 3. This system ensures that early intervention is available and accessible for all eligible children and their families, regardless of financial status.
Certain children from birth to age 3 are offered services through Part B of the IDEA under the “Birth Mandate.” In Delaware, the Birth Mandate means that children who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing, Visually Impaired, Deaf/Blind or have Autism Spectrum Disorder are entitled to free, appropriate public education from birth. These children are eligible for services from both CDW and their school district. When a child is found to have one of these conditions, a referral is made to the child’s school district for determination of Part B eligibility.
The Delaware Department of Education (DOE) works closely with CDW to support the transition from CDW to public school for young children. Additionally, DOE is the lead agency for providing special education and related services for children with ASD, from birth to 21 years of age.