Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Early Childhood Education (PA-ECE) 9: Caring for Children with Special Needs

The agency considers additional communication, activity, and staffing needs to promote optimal inclusion and development of children with special needs.
2020 Edition




Early Childhood Education facilitates appropriate child development and ensures the health and safety of children in care.
Examples: Special needs include medical, developmental, social, emotional, and behavioral needs.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
No Self-Study Evidence
  • Community resource and referral list for specialized services and supports
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Parents of children with special needs
  • Review child files


PA-ECE 9.01

Parents of children with special needs receive assistance obtaining and coordinating specialized supports necessary to enroll and keep their child in care.


The amount and type of assistance provided will vary based on the resources available at the agency.
Examples: Parents may need assistance obtaining suitable transportation, managing logistics, and coordinating services with other providers such as specialized screenings, assessments, and treatments.


PA-ECE 9.02

A team approach that involves parents, service providers, and teaching staff is used in service planning, care provision, and transition planning.


PA-ECE 9.03

Teaching staff and administrators promote the child’s inclusion in activities with other children.


Whenever the child is attending the program, intervention services and special medical services provided on-site should be integrated, to the greatest extent possible, into the ongoing activities of the group to promote inclusion.