The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is committed to creating inclusive preschool classrooms that prepare all children to enter Kindergarten with a solid foundation for future success. Inclusive preschool classrooms offer the opportunity for children with disabilities to learn and socialize with typically developing peers in their least restrictive environment.
An important component of creating an inclusive classroom is collaborating with preschool special education providers. When preschool programs and providers work together, services can be integrated into classroom learning rather than delivered in isolation. Integrated services weave special education goals into a child’s daily schedule so that skills develop in naturally occurring activities and adults maximize the sharing of knowledge and methods across disciplines.
What are SEIT services?
A Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) provides specialized individual or group instruction and/or indirect services to preschool students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Services are provided on an itinerant basis, meaning the SEIT travels to the childcare or educational setting where the child attends during the day. SEIT services may be provided alone or in combination with one or more related services.
Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) services must be provided by a New York State certified special education teacher. While most children receive SEIT services from a teacher certified in special education or speech and hearing, children with hearing impairments may require a certified teacher of the deaf, children with visual impairments may require a certified teacher of the blind and visually impaired, and bilingual children may require a certified bilingual teacher of special education.
A Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) is employed by an agency that is approved by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to provide itinerant special education instruction to preschool students with disabilities.
What do SEIT services support? How are SEIT services delivered?
A SEIT is a New York State certified special education teacher who comes to work with a preschool student with a disability on academic, emotional, and social skills. SEIT services include both direct and indirect services. “Direct service” is specially designed instruction in which the SEIT works directly with a child, one-on-one or in a group (based on the IEP recommendation). Direct SEIT allows the preschool child with an IEP to benefit from the early childhood program and to participate in age-appropriate activities. “Indirect SEIT” means consultation provided by a certified special education teacher to assist the child's early childhood program teacher in adjusting the learning environment and/or modifying their instructional methods to meet the individual needs of a preschool student with a disability who attends an early childhood program.
SEITs should support teachers in the development of daily lesson plans that consider differentiation, accommodations and modifications, and integrating IEP goals and services into daily learning and routines. SEIT service delivery should be integrated into the routines and activities of the classroom as much as possible, depending upon the needs of the student and the goals being addressed. All SEIT services should align with the overall classroom curriculum and instruction and be focused on preparing the student to be an active member of the early childhood program.
A preschool student’s IEP will specify direct and/or indirect SEIT, including the frequency (how often, e.g., 3x/week), duration (length of session, e.g., 1 hour), intensity (group or individual, e.g., 1:1), and location (where, e.g., childcare setting selected by parent) for SEIT services. The IEP will indicate the projected date for initiation of services and whether the child is eligible for 10-month or 12-month services (July and August).
SEIT may be provided at a location identified on the IEP including, but not limited to, an approved or licensed pre-Kindergarten or Head Start program, a hospital, a State facility, or a childcare location selected by the parent or home under certain circumstances.
Who receives SEIT services? How are SEIT services arranged?
Preschool special education services are available for children age 3 to 5 who have been identified by the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) as a preschool student with a disability. These services are provided free of charge to eligible children by the DOE. For more information regarding eligibility for preschool special education services, please visit the DOE’s preschool webpage.
The CPSE is responsible for coordinating the special education process for preschool children. If the child is found eligible for special education services, the CPSE team will develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a plan that details a child’s abilities and outlines the services the DOE will provide to meet the child’s educational needs. The teacher from the child’s early childhood program should participate by phone or in person at all IEP meetings so that s/he can share information about the student’s functioning in the classroom.
After the CPSE team develops the IEP, the CPSE administrator is responsible for ensuring all IEP-recommended services are arranged. If SEIT is recommended on the child’s IEP, the CPSE administrator will assign an agency that will provide SEIT services. The SEIT agency will assign a provider to work with the child at the location identified in the IEP or coordinated between the parent, school, and provider. The projected start date for services should be listed on the preschool child’s IEP.
For questions or support regarding the arrangement of SEIT services, contact the CSE/CPSE office that covers the child’s home district.
When should SEIT services be provided?
SEIT services may only be provided Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00am through 6:00pm unless the agency is otherwise authorized by NYSED to provide services within different hours. Services may not be provided on national or New York State holidays.
SEIT sessions must be scheduled consistent with the student’s IEP and with sufficient time allotted to ensure delivery of the full session. SEIT sessions do not include any breaks or meals for the SEIT provider.
As part of the first visit, and on an ongoing basis, program leadership and teaching staff should work with SEIT providers to create a schedule that works best for the child. This includes considering the time of day that works best for the child to receive services, by considering, e.g., a student’s attention, physical stamina, classroom activities, and behavior.
Who is responsible for the coordination of a preschool child’s services as outlined on their IEP?
The SEIT is responsible for the coordination of services. This includes:
- Working with the CPSE to resolve any scheduling or service delivery issues
- Sharing information with related service providers to support the integration of SEIT and related services
- Gathering progress reports and anecdotal information relating to the student’s progress from all related service providers to ensure that the SEIT has a general knowledge of the student’s progress and any significant problems, in each related service area
- Participating in person or by telephone in all CPSE meetings
- Providing progress information to parents and the CPSE
- Ensuring effective communication practices, such as telephone conferences, as needed
If a preschool student is recommended for related services and is not receiving the related services as recommended in the IEP, the SEIT must identify this concern to the related service provider(s) and the CPSE.
Who is responsible for supervising the SEIT?
The SEIT is an employee of a NYSED-approved SEIT agency. The agency is responsible for supervising the SEIT. Supervision includes oversight of the delivery of SEIT services to ensure safe and effective implementation of SEIT services. SEIT supervisors may conduct on-site visits and should always be accessible to SEIT providers via phone or other means when the SEIT agency’s supervisor is not physically present.
Although program leaders do not directly supervise SEITs, they play an important role in ensuring that SEIT services are successfully delivered to children and integrated into classrooms. Program leaders are responsible for building a positive classroom culture, supporting engagement with families, and promoting trust among children, families, staff, and partners and providers. Program leaders should collaborate with classroom teaching staff and assigned SEITs on an ongoing basis to integrate IEP-mandated services into the instruction and family engagement practices provided by classroom teaching staff.
Can a SEIT work with children in an early childhood program that have not been assigned to them for IEP recommended services?
SEIT services should always work toward facilitating a child’s participation in activities with other children in the early childhood classroom. This is particularly appropriate when the child’s goals and objectives address interaction with peers.
However, a SEIT should not supervise children that have not been assigned to them for the provision of IEP recommended services. This includes removing children out of the classroom to work with an assigned child or supervising other duties, such as toileting, for other children in the classroom. A SEIT also may not be used to meet classroom ratio requirements. This includes functioning as the supervising or certified teacher in the classroom, including delivery of whole classroom instruction, such as circle time, or providing lunch, prep or absence coverage.
What are some best practices when working with SEIT providers?
When a SEIT starts at your program, consider:
- providing a school tour and introducing key staff in the building
- sharing your program’s educational philosophy and mission statement
- sharing information about your program’s curriculum
- ensure that the SEIT is aware of policies regarding personal use of cellphones
- discussing policies regarding use of technology with students
- discussing how the SEIT can best communicate and collaborate with the child’s classroom teaching staff on an ongoing basis
- sharing expectations for family engagement practices
- reviewing student-specific health care plans/allergies, school-wide safety procedures and your program’s sign-in procedures
- providing a copy of your staff handbook, including having SEITs sign off that they received a copy
- providing a copy of your family handbook, including having SEITs sign off that they received a copy
- discussing expectations regarding dress code
- assigning a point person for any questions, concerns or issues
- discussing expectations if a SEIT is absent, e.g., contacting the program, whom to contact at the program (more information below)
- having the SEIT fill out an emergency contact form and provide contact information for their agency and supervisor
- identifying to the SEIT provider/agency the individual(s) at your site responsible for authorizing the “SEIT Service Form” (more information below)
- recording the contact information for the SEIT, the SEIT agency and the supervisor assigned by the SEIT agency
- obtaining the calendar from the SEIT agency and sharing the calendar from your own program
- sharing notification procedures to follow if your program or the SEIT agency is forced to closed because of unanticipated circumstances
- establishing notification procedures when field trips or other special events will mean that the student will be unavailable for a regularly scheduled SEIT session
- clarifying notification expectations should the student be absent
- discussing classroom coverage plans if indirect SEIT service provision would result in the classroom teacher being unavailable for their regular classroom duties
What is the best way to share information regarding SEITs with families?
Confidentiality protections under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) require that the contents of all IEPs must be kept confidential. Therefore, early childhood programs may not disclose information about a child’s IEP or recommended services to anyone not directly responsible for the implementation of the IEP or to that student’s parent.
Programs should consider ways to share general information regarding preschool special education services, such as SEIT and related services. This might include information in a parent handbook or communication during an orientation or parent night that informs families that providers may be working in classrooms with children that are eligible for preschool special education services.
What is the security clearance process for a SEIT?
All SEIT agencies are required to clear SEIT providers through the DOE security clearance process. This means that each SEIT provider is required to be “eligible” and “active” in the Personnel Eligibility Tracking System (PETS) prior to working with any preschool child. The SEIT agency is responsible for monitoring the status of clearance for all SEIT providers.
All SEIT agencies are also required to clear SEIT providers through the Statewide Central Register (SCR) of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. Early childhood programs may request that the SEIT agency supply the “Notification of Assignment of Professional Consultant” form to allow the program to verify that the SEIT has State Central Registry clearance and is licensed or credentialed by NYSED, which includes criminal clearance and reference checks.
Even if the assigned SEIT (or a substitute SEIT) does not present the “Notification of Professional Consultant Assignment” form to the program leader, the SEIT must provide services to the assigned child within line-of-sight supervision of a program staff member who has undergone all required security clearance procedures. A Head Start program must secure confirmation of SCR clearance within 90 days of the SEIT’s first date of service provision and must provide line-of-supervision while that confirmation is pending.
Can a SEIT be denied access to an early childhood program?
Early childhood programs may not deny access to individuals providing IEP-mandated services. At a minimum, early childhood programs must permit the SEIT to provide services to students under line-of-sight supervision of a program staff member who has undergone all required security clearance procedures.
How are SEIT services documented?
SEIT providers are required to keep documentation showing that provided services are consistent with the child’s IEP. This includes the start and end times for each session provided and documentation of any make-up sessions due to SEIT or student absence. The SEIT should have the site director/principal or a designated staff member at the early childhood program sign a “SEIT Service Form” so that they can verify that services are being provided. Verification signatures should be obtained in a timely manner so that the person verifying SEIT session delivery has a clear memory of what transpired. Many SEIT agencies seek verification signatures at least weekly. Early childhood staff should never sign to verify a SEIT service form that does not accurately reflect the provision of SEIT services.
What happens if a session is missed due to a SEIT or student absence?
Programs should discuss expectations if a SEIT is absent, including contacting the program and the contact person in the event of an absence. If a SEIT is absent, the SEIT agency should first try to arrange for the provision of SEIT services by qualified substitute staff. However, if extenuating circumstances exist that would excuse the provision of services by a substitute teacher, the SEIT agency should document the circumstances and arrange for make-up sessions consistent with New York State Education Department (NYSED) rules, regulations and written policy guidance.
NYSED guidance requires SEIT providers to provide students with make-up sessions when the missed session was due to a staff absence and, as appropriate to the needs of the student, any excused student absences. A SEIT may, but is not required to, make-up sessions missed due to student absences. Make-up sessions are to be provided in a timely manner (as close in proximity as possible to the missed session) and must be in accordance with the child’s IEP regarding duration, intensity and location, and, as practical, frequency. Unless there is a documented child-specific reason, e.g., extended child illness, the make-up session should be provided within 30 calendar days of the missed session.
Make-up sessions should be provided in a manner and on a schedule that is beneficial to the student. SEIT providers should also consider the schedules and concerns of the early childhood setting and the parent when scheduling make-up sessions.
What is the process if the SEIT agency is unable to provide a preschool child with recommended SEIT services?
If at any point during the school year, the SEIT agency is unable to provide any student with any recommended SEIT services, and determines that there is no reasonable expectation that the full provision of services are to resume in the immediate future, the SEIT agency must immediately notify the parent, the CPSE and the administrator of the site where the SEIT services are provided. This notification must be in writing and sent by regular mail. “Immediately” means as soon as possible, but within five days of the last day that SEIT services were provided.
When Concerns Arise
What do I do if I have concerns about the delivery of SEIT services?
As a first step, the early childhood program should reach out to the SEIT agency to discuss any concerns regarding the delivery of SEIT services. The program may also request that a SEIT supervisor visit and observe to help support the SEIT on site with the child.
If the issue is still not resolved, the early childhood program should contact 4410Oversight@schools.nyc.gov and provide the child’s name, date of birth, and 9-digit NYC student ID number, and the program’s name, address, and director/principal’s name. They should also include a brief description of the issue and/or concern.
What do I do if I have concerns about the SEIT agency?
If there is an issue with the SEIT agency, the early childhood program should contact 4410Oversight@schools.nyc.gov and provide the child’s name, date of birth, and 9-digit NYC student ID number, and the program’s name, address, and director/principal’s name. They should also include the SEIT agency name and a brief description of the issue and/or concern.
How do I report an incident involving a SEIT provider?
Early childhood programs are required to follow the reporting requirements and procedures outlined by any agencies that have oversight of the program. This includes the procedures to report suspected child abuse, maltreatment, corporal punishment and verbal abuse. If you are an approved DOE Pre-K for All program, please review the procedures outlined in the Pre-K for All Policy Handbook. .
Whom can I contact if I have questions about SEIT services?
Any general questions related to SEIT services should be directed to 4410Oversight@schools.nyc.gov.
- Creating an Inclusive Preschool Classroom: Best Practices for Collaborating with Preschool Special Education Providers
- NYC Department of Health Notification of Assignment of Professional Consultant Form
- Preschool Special Education
- Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs
- Webinar: Preschool Special Education Process and Services
- Webinar: Unpacking the IEP