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Early Childhood

Kid Piling Blocks
Kids Playing with Chalk

Welcome to Southwest Nebraska!

Educational Service Unit 15 and our Planning Region invites you to browse our pages and use it to support you in the natural development of the young children in your life.

The purpose of  early childhood intervention is to support  families, care providers, and preschool teachers when appropriate, in developing the competence and confidence to help your child learn. Your family resource team members can be viewed as a kind of a coach who has received special training in the practices that research has proven to be most effective.

You, as the learner, will develop the competence and confidence to implement strategies to increase your

child’s learning opportunities and participation in daily life.

 This approach to intervention is a big shift from “outside experts” focusing on your child’s  disability.  Current emphasis provides supports for the people involved with the child across a variety of environments, building on the child’s and family’s strengths and interests. Supports are given  within the family’s daily life and not through unnatural, contrived situations, like one on one with a person who is not “naturally” with your child. You will not be asked to “plan” special activities for your child. Instead you will be supported in recognizing learning opportunities in the activities that naturally happen in day to day life.

   The life of a child is full of opportunities for learning. 

Virtually everything a child experiences happens as part of family life, community life, and participation in early childhood.

Daycare Center
Boys Climbing Up Slide

Early Childhood Services Coordinator 

Barb Esch

ESU 15 (McCook) 

(308) 345-7341

Boy Playing in Bouncy Castle

Birth to Three

Early Development Services

Early intervention can help you and your family support and promote your child’s development within your family activities and community life. Nebraska’s Early Development Network supports children birth through three years of age who have special developmental needs. The Nebraska Early Development Network program “connects” families with early intervention services such as occupational, speech or physical therapy, to help infants and toddlers grow and develop and help their families in this process. It is a voluntary program and does not discriminate based on race, culture, religion, income level or disability.

The term “early” intervention is important because research shows that the first three years are the most important time for learning in a child's life. Providing developmental supports and services early improves a child's ability to develop and learn. Also, it may prevent or decrease the need for special help later. The goal of early intervention in Nebraska is to “open a window of opportunity” for families to help their children with special needs develop to their full potential.

An infant or toddler should be referred if they have:

  • A suspected significant level of developmental difficulties in one or more developmental area(s): cognitive, adaptive, communication, social/emotional, and/or physical (including vision, hearing)

  • A diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in a significant developmental delay.​

A referral may be made by anyone concerned about a child's development. The call will go to our Services Coordinator who will contact the family within seven days to determine if they are interested in Early Development Network services.

With the family's permission, the Services Coordinator will arrange for an assessment with our school district to determine the unique needs of the child and his or her eligibility. The assessment is done with a multidisciplinary evaluation team which includes the child's parents. Together, the team is responsible for the analysis, assessment and documentation of developmental abilities and needs of the child and family.

If the child qualifies, the Services Coordinator will identify with the family, others who can participate on a team to help the family develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). An IFSP sets goals for the child and family and identifies activities and services needed to achieve those goals. Because families of children with disabilities often need many different services the Services Coordinator is instrumental in working with the agencies that provide these services to make sure the child and family get the help they need. The Services Coordinator also informs families about services available in the community, makes sure services are delivered smoothly and properly, and informs families about advocacy and support groups.

 Our Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teachers provide special education services to children 0-5 years of age in their natural environments.  They work with parents, preschool teachers, daycare providers, and others to help young children get ready for school academically, emotionally, physically, and cognitively. 

Early Development Network          Proposed Nebraska Rule 52

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