Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Early Childhood Direction Center?

The Early Childhood Direction Center, (also known as an ECDC) is a resource center that provides information and assistance to parents, professionals, agencies and other members of the community. We provide information related to programs and services for children from birth to 5 years of age, who have special needs or whom you suspect may have a delay in their development; standing, walking, talking, eating, hearing, seeing, getting along with others, following directions or paying attention.  You can call a Direction Center to talk with an Early Childhood Specialist about any concern you may have regarding your child.

Where can I find an Early Childhood Direction Center in my area?

There are 14 Early Childhood Direction Centers covering every county and borough in New York State.

Please use the following link to find the nearest ECDC.

Do I have to pay or use my health insurance to get help from the Direction Center?

No. All services are provided free of charge.

What kinds of information do the Centers provide?

People who work in the Early Childhood Direction Centers provide information about:

  • Diagnostic/Evaluation Services
  • Early Intervention Services
  • Infant and Toddler Services
  • Preschool Services
  • Special Education Services
  • Speech/Physical/Occupational Therapy
  • Vision Services
  • Medical Services
  • Day Care and Headstart Programs
  • Parent education programs and support groups.


What kinds of services can I receive?

Early Childhood Direction Centers can help you in many ways.

  • make referrals to agencies that can provide direct services near where you live
  • coordinate services between agencies and providers
  • match the individual needs of your child with services available in the community
  • assist in obtaining services for your child
  • follow-up to ensure that your child is receiving all the services needed.

What kind of follow-up can I expect?

The Queens Early Childhood Direction Center provides follow-up services until your child reaches school age. This occurs in several ways. Parents will either receive a letter, e-mail or a phone call every three to six months to see how things are going and will be contacted at least once a year until their child reaches five. Feel free to call the Queens ECDC any time there is a change in your child’s needs.

Will the same person be available every time I call the Direction Center?

You can usually expect to talk to the same person at the Direction Center. When you first call, be sure to ask for the name of the person who is helping you. You should feel free to ask for that person whenever you call.

Is the ECDC only for children who have special needs?

The Queens Early Childhood Direction Center focuses on providing information and referral assistance to families of children with special needs who are under school age. You can, however, talk to an Early Childhood Specialist confidentially about any concern you have about your family or other children.

How do I know if my child has any special needs or a disability?

Call the ECDC and speak with an Early Childhood Specialist to ask questions about child development. The Specialist has materials they can send to help you monitor your child’s growth and development. They can also tell you about the resources in your community. Any information you provide to the Direction Center staff about your child, family or needs is strictly confidential.

Who makes the decision about what EI or CPSE services my child receives?

Only YOU, as the parent, will make the final decision about any services for your child. The Direction Center staff will give you information about programs and services in your community and tell you what options are available to you. New York State Procedural Safe Guards can be found here:

Do I have rights as a parent of a child with special needs?

Yes, you do. If your child is under age three, your rights and responsibilities are guided by the Early Intervention System. If your child is age three to five years and has special learning needs, the preschool special education process through your local school district protects your rights.

How do I learn about my rights?

The Queens Early Childhood Direction Center can assist you and provide you with information on your rights and responsibilities. There are guides that are available to you through the centers.

Can I talk to other parents?

It is a good idea to meet and speak with other parents. There are parents you can talk to in every community.  The Direction Center Specialist can link you up with a parent that may have experienced the same feelings, worries, and questions that you have. These groups usually meet on a regular basis and welcome the participation of new parents and families.

What is the advantage of calling a Direction Center for assistance?

The Queens Early Childhood Direction Center has many years of experience in your community and has direct access to resources. The ECDC Early Childhood Specialist can help you obtain services for your child. Also, if you move to another part of the State, you will immediately be referred to the Direction Center in your new area.

What if my child did not qualify for Early Intervention (EI) or Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) services? What are my options?

If your child did not qualify for CPSE, we could assist with a referral to a Head Start program or Day Care Center. In addition, your child may be re-evaluated in a year.

What are the eligibility criteria for EI and CPSE to receive services?

For EI, your child is eligible for services, if your child has a 33% delay in one developmental domain, or a 25% developmental delay in two developmental domains.

The developmental domains are: Communication, Cognitive, Adaptive, Social/Emotional, and Physical.

The same criteria apply for CPSE eligibility.

When should I start looking for a preschool setting? Before, during, or after the evaluation process?

You should start calling and requesting for a tour of different preschools after you receive the complete CPSE evaluation report, and definitely after you have received your Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Some schools are flexible enough to provide you with a tour if you only have a CPSE evaluation report and confirm a scheduled IEP meeting. (Please confirm with the school regarding their policy).

Who could help if I’m having trouble registering my child for kindergarten at a school?

It is recommended you speak with the same school’s administration and/or principal at the school. Try to resolve conflict or difficulties before contacting a representative from the Department of Education.

If you need to contact someone from the Department of Education regarding your problem or difficulty, you send an email to You should receive a response within 48 hrs.

If my child is eligible for preschool special education services will be my child be classified as a student with special needs/education?

If your child is deemed eligible to receive preschool special education services s/he will be classified as a Preschool Child with a disability and an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be developed.