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Early Childhood/School Readiness (Preschool)/Early Childhood Screening

Early Childhood

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) is a unique program that offers parents the opportunity to go to school and learn along with their children.

ECFE classes provide support, information and education for parents and their children, ages birth to 5. In a typical ECFE class, parents and children attend weekly classes together. Daytime and Evening class times are available.

Most ECFE classes provide time for parent/child activities as well as a separation time when parents enjoy a group discussion regarding child development and parenting issues. During this time, children continue activities in the classroom with their early childhood teachers.

ECFE programs also provide special family events such as open gyms, carnivals, concerts, field trips and guest presentations from places such as the Minnesota Zoo or Science Center.

Participant fees are based on a sliding fee scale. No family is excluded for inability to pay.

A detailed explanation of the concept and history of ECFE:

School Readiness (Preschool)

School Readiness is a public school program available to Minnesota children, age 3 years to kindergarten enrollment who meet certain eligibility requirements. The purpose of a School Readiness program is to prepare children to enter kindergarten. The goal of School Readiness is to help preschoolers enter school with the skills and behaviors necessary to be successful in future learning.

It is a priority of School Readiness to involve parents in their child’s learning and education. Research has shown that early childhood programs that involve parents and children working together are more effective than programs that only focus on the child. Involving families early encourages parents to play a more active role throughout their child’s education.

In order to attend School Readiness programs, the following is true ((Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.15, subd. 15)):

A child is eligible to participate in a School Readiness program if the child:

  1. is at least three years old on September 1;
  2. has completed health and developmental screening within 90 days of program enrollment under sections 121A.16 to 121A.19; and
  3. has one or more of the following risk factors:
    • qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch;
    • is an English learner;
    • is homeless;
    • has an individualized education program (IEP) or an individual interagency intervention plan (IIIP);
    • is identified, through health and developmental screenings under sections 121A.16 to 121A.19, with a potential risk factor that may influence learning; or
    • is defined as at-risk by the school district.

Children who do not meet any of these requirements may attend School Readiness classes on a fee basis.

Districts offer School Readiness classes in a variety of formats.

Districts may offer child only preschool classes for children ages 3 to kindergarten entry. There is no requirement for how often these classes need to meet. Some districts offer half-day classes only from 1 to 5 days/week. Full day preschool classes are also offered, 1 to 5 days/week.

Some form of parent involvement is required for these preschool programs, beyond attendance at parent/teacher conferences. Districts offer a variety of options for parent involvement.

Some districts provide School Readiness classes that build in the parent involvement component by having parents attend class with their children one day each week. Their children will then attend a second or third day of preschool on their own.

Early Childhood Screening

Early Childhood Screening is offered by school districts to all children in Minnesota once they have passed their 3rd birthday. These free screenings are not designed to assess a child’s development, but rather are meant to briefly screen their development in areas of large motor skills, fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and health (vision, hearing, weight). Parents also complete a checklist related to their child’s social emotional development. Most children are on target in these areas of development, but occasionally children may show signs of need in one or more area. Families then can access district services to help their child be better prepared for kindergarten! The earlier the screenings are completed, the more time available to support any areas of need that may be discovered. For example, a child’s vision or hearing needs are areas that parents could easily miss, and this screening could catch those needs.

Early Childhood Screenings are required for all children prior to entering kindergarten, however it is best to have the screenings completed at least a year prior to a child’s kindergarten start date.

Districts receive funding to support Early Childhood Screening based on the number and ages of children screened in the previous year. The Early Childhood Screening coordinator is responsible for submitting an annual report to MDE.

The reporting of your annual Early Childhood Screening (ECS) program and component cost is required by Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.16 – 121A.17 and Minnesota Rule 3530.3200.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) requires each school district to electronically submit data by July 15, 2016. All information required in this data submission relates to the period of July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

All data is to be filed electronically to MDE Early Learning Services Data System at the following website address: http://education.state.mn.us under “Data”/“Data Submissions.”

Summary Early Childhood Screening data provided to MDE will be posted to the MDE website by school district and statewide. This form is a worksheet to prepare school district data for electronic submission to the Early Learning Services Data System.


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