Families of 3- and 4-year-olds in Texas have an option available to them called “Dual Enrollment.” In Texas, children ages 3 and 4 can go to a private preschool and still receive services, such as speech therapy, through the public school. As another option, preschoolers may stay home (like many children this age do) and receive needed public school services. Recognizing that many PPCD programs are designed only for students with disabilities, Texas made the decision to allow 3- and 4-year-olds to be dually enrolled to give them more opportunities to interact with their typically developing peers.
Examples of dual enrollment include:
- A child with Cerebral Palsy is enrolled in the private preschool at the family church. The family decides that they want to dually enroll their child and bring him/her to the public school once a week for physical therapy. In order to do this, the ARD committee determines goals for physical therapy and the services begin. The child might work with the school’s physical therapist on goals such as transferring from his wheelchair to a school chair or traveling from the classroom to the cafeteria and getting to eat his lunch. The goals are always relevant to the educational experience.
- A child with Down Syndrome is enrolled in a neighborhood preschool. The pubic school has an arrangement with the private preschool to provide an itinerant PPCD teacher. This means that the public school works with the private preschool by providing a special educator to work with the child with disabilities in the private setting, or to provide supports to that teacher in the private setting.
Parents should know that special education and related services are available at no cost to families. However, families are responsible for any fees associated with a private placement.
Students being considered for dual enrollment follow the same referral process and eligibility determination as they would for PPCD. If the ARD committee (including the parents) decides that the student qualifies for special education services, an individualized education plan (IEP) is developed. The IEP includes the details of the specific services that will be provided by the school district. For more information on the special education process – See The Special Education Process – Step by Step.
An important ARD Committee decision will be where the student will receive those services. For example, will the therapist visit the student at his or her private preschool or home, or will the student go to the school? Transportation is a related service that should be discussed in the ARD meeting. The district is obligated to provide transportation if the child’s parents cannot. This requirement by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act applies to 3-5 year olds who may not be attending the school’s preschool program, but who need special transportation in order to get to speech or other therapies they receive through the school district.
Your child should begin receiving services on his or her third birthday. Services will continue until the end of the school year in which the student turns five, or until the student is eligible to attend a district's public school kindergarten program, whichever comes first.
For examples of how selected districts in Texas are effectively educating preschoolers with disabilities alongside their non-disabled peers, see the TEA Showcase of Promising Practices.
You and Your Preschool Child – Toolkit developed by the U.S. Dept of Education
Early Childhood Education – WhatWorks Clearinghouse review of interventions
TEA Special Education Services for Students with Disabilities – Ages 3-5
TEA's Guidance on Parentally-placed Private School Children with Disabilities
Legal Framework for Children with Disabilities Ages 0-5
State Funded Pre-Kindergarten Programs
Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD)
Revolutionary Common Sense Articles by Kathie Snow, Disability Is Natural
Environment, Environment, Environment (pdf document)
Special Education Preschools, Help or Hindrance (pdf document)