The Olmsted Falls Early Childhood Center (ECC) Preschool Program is designed to provide special education services to eligible children ages 3 to 5 with identified special needs, in accordance with state mandates. Eligibility for children residing within Olmsted Falls City School District boundaries is determined through a multi-step assessment process that begins with a call to the Olmsted Falls Early Childhood Center office at 440-427-6360. By law, eligible children with identified special needs receive special education services at no charge. Special education services fall on a continuum, ranging from community-based (i.e., itinerant) to on-site, center-based services at the ECC. While our preschool program does also enroll a small population of typically developing peer role models, it is not an open enrollment community preschool. Typically developing peers admitted to the preschool program do pay tuition to attend.
Our Classrooms and Services
The Olmsted Falls Early Childhood Center (ECC) currently has seven integrated preschool classes (4 AM classes and 3 PM classes), each comprised of up to eight (8) children with identified special needs along with four (4) typically developing peer role models. Each class is taught by one of our four licensed early childhood intervention specialists, who is assisted in the classroom by one or two paraprofessionals.
In addition to our seven integrated preschool classes, Olmsted Falls Early Childhood Center also has available a PM class for preschoolers with moderate-to-intensive special education needs. There are no typically developing peers enrolled in that class.
Not all preschoolers who are found eligible for special education services are served in a center-based classroom at the ECC. For some children with mild or moderate communication delays, the IEP team (which includes the child’s parent) decide that speech therapy sessions provided by our licensed speech/language pathologists is the most appropriate way to meet the child’s needs. While the individual needs of our students with IEPs drive lesson planning in our classrooms, our preschool teachers are expert at providing developmentally appropriate learning experiences for all of the preschool students in their classes using a theme-based format. Our thematic curriculum is aligned with the Early Learning Content Standards provided by the Ohio Department of Education. These state standards include: language arts, math, science, and social studies. Our classrooms are specially designed for children of all ability levels; modifications and adaptations are utilized to maximize learning. Developmentally appropriate activities are implemented, peer relations encouraged, and compassion for others discovered. Preschool children also participate in a gross motor period every day which includes two theme-based, structured junior P.E. classes each week.
A daily snack is prepared in the ECC kitchen and provided during each class session. Each year, one of our four integrated classrooms is designated as “allergy aware” with teachers and parents working together with the District’s Food Service Department to make sure the children in that classroom are served snacks that are safe for them.
Preschool Class Schedule
Our preschool classes meet for two and a half hour sessions (either A.M. or P.M.) four days per week, Monday through Thursday. There are no preschool classes on Fridays. A.M. sessions run from 8:10-10:40 a.m.; P.M. sessions run from 11:40 a.m.- 2:10 p.m. Children are assigned to either the A.M. or the P.M. session for the duration of each school year. Class assignments are provided to families before the start of each new school year for children who are registered to start in September or during the IEP meeting for students with special needs who are found eligible for special education services throughout the school year.
Who We Serve / Admission Process
Children with Identified Special Needs, ages 3 to 5. Our Preschool Program provides services for children ages 3-5 with identified developmental delays or developmental disabilities. Parents and legal caregivers are encouraged to contact the ECC to initiate a referral of their preschool-age children if they are concerned about any area of development including: communication, cognition, social/emotional/behavioral functioning, fine or gross motor skills. Many of the children who are referred are invited to attend a monthly play-based assessment session, during which information is gathered to help determine whether a child is eligible for special education services. Play-based assessment sessions generally begin in August and take place monthly throughout the duration of the school year. Preschool enrollment increases over the course of the year as children are referred, assessed, and found eligible for special education services. There is no waiting list. If you are interested in initiating the referral / screening process for your child, please call the ECC office at 440-427-6360.
Children who are receiving Early Intervention Services, approaching age 3. With parental consent, children who are receiving early intervention services and reside in the Olmsted Falls City School District are referred for an assessment at the ECC as part of the transition process as the early intervention providers (Bright Beginnings in Cuyahoga County) plan to terminate services on the child’s third birthday. The Early Intervention Services Coordinators facilitate the referrals of children receiving EI services, so it is not necessary for parents to contact the ECC to initiate a referral.
Typically Developing Peer Models, ages 3 to 5. A total of 28 typically developing peers are selected to enroll in our integrated preschool classes each school year to act as good language models and play partners for their classmates with special needs. This selection process takes place during four special play-based assessment sessions held each January. During this assessment process, the preschool team engages with up to 40 typically developing children from the school community and ultimately selects those who seem to be the best “fit” for the preschoolers with IEPs who will attending preschool classes in the fall. There is an annual tuition fee for typically developing peers selected to enroll. If you are interested in having your child participate in the January play-based assessment for the 2019-2020 school year, please call the ECC office at 440-427-6360 after Thanksgiving. (Please note that typically developing peers for the current 2018-2019 school year have already been selected and enrolled. There is a waiting list for typical peers for the current school year.)
District transportation is available for eligible children with IEPs, although parents of children with special needs may choose to transport them to and from school. Transportation options for special needs children are determined during the student’s IEP conference. Parents of typically developing peers are required to provide transportation for their children.
If you have additional questions about our preschool programming or have a child whose development is of concern to you, please contact our office at 440-427-6360.