What to do if you suspect a delay

Federal law requires the NYC DOE to identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities and those suspected of having a disability who reside in New York City. This obligation, known as “child find,” is an obligation that extends to all professional staff members. 

Request an Evaluation

Parents may refer their child for an evaluation (if the school staff has not already initiated the process).

The referral must be in writing and should:

  • Describe the concerns about your child’s development, learning and/or behavior
  • State that you are requesting a special education evaluation (be sure to write “preschool special education evaluation” if your child is in preschool)
  • List any services your child has received or is currently receiving
  • Provide your child’s full legal name and date of birth
  • Provide your name, address and a telephone number where the school, CSE, or CPSE can reach you
  • State your preferred language, if it is not English

If your child is enrolled in public school in grades K-12; send or give the written referral to the principal or a staff member at the school.

If your child is in any of the school settings below; mail, fax or give the referral letter to your local District Committee on Special Education (CSE) or District Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE).

  • Private school
  • Non-public school
  • Parochial school
  • Charter school
  • Any preschool setting, which can include:
    • District school Pre-K class
    • NYC DOE Pre-K Center
    • Charter school Pre-K class
    • New York City Early Education Center (NYCEEC)
    • ACS Early-Learn program
    • Private child care program (day care, babysitter, etc.)
  • Not currently attending school

What will be evaluated?

Your child may be eligible for special education services, if he or she shows a delay in:

  • Thinking and learning
  • Understanding and using language
  • Self-help skills (toileting, eating, dressing)
  • Behavior (getting along with others, expressing feelings)
  • Physical (vision, hearing, movement)

Visit the NYC Department of Education’s Website for more information about your rights, considerations, and the overall process.

You may also review The Special Education Standard Operating Procedures Manual (SOPM) live online to learn about policy changes.   The SOPM is a “living” resource that will be updated on an ongoing basis to best serve New York City students and families. 

Please get your student evaluated as soon as possible.  The earlier the individual receives support, the less likely the delay will impact self-esteem, academic progress, and overall well-being.  Take it one step at a time, and do not worry about a “label.”  Times have changed, and it is far more detrimental for a student to “fit in,” when a problem goes unaddressed.

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