Early Childhood Direction Centers
For parents of children with disabilities, it can be difficult to figure out what services and programs can assist their children. Early Childhood Direction Centers (ECDC’s) are a great way to get started. ECDC’s provide information and referral assistance to families, caregivers and professionals for children from birth to age five with diagnosed or suspected delays. The centers are usually a part of a statewide network offered by the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities. Although many services may be limited to a geographic area, most centers can provide information about services across the state or even the nation. ECDC workers can make referrals for services on a child’s behalf and follow-up with the process. Services are provided free of charge and are kept confidential. ECDC staff attend meetings throughout the year that help them stay up to date on issues that pertain to children with special needs. These include local, state and federal offices.
What are the Services ECDC’s Offer?
Services may include navigating parents through the different funded programs of Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education. They can assist with the benefits and entitlements for children including how to apply and maintain them.
Parent Training Classes
Centers provide training at no cost to parents and professionals on many different topics. Generally, classes are focused on providing parents with training to empower them to advocate for their children. Some trainings you may find at the center include:
ECDC libraries encompass a wide range of topics related to disabilities. Some of the materials can be loaned at no cost. Staff are often able to spend time with the parents and help them find the best information on the specific topic they are looking for. Resources may vary but in general the libraries consist of:
To look for an Early Childhood Direction Center in your area use our Resource Locator or talk to other caregivers about them in our Support Community.
Have questions about Early Childhood Direction Centers?
Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to fellow parents and caregivers about their experiences with ECDC’s.
National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center
US Department of Education