A Parent’s Guide to Preschool CPSE Assessments

A Parent’s Guide to Preschool CPSE Assessments

Parents who may feel a sense of hesitation or worry before their child’s CPSE assessment are not alone.


“Thinking back to the time where I was struggling with the decision to have the twins evaluated or not, I’m glad I eventually recognized this isn’t about my guilt,” said Lorraine, a parent with twin boys who both benefited from early intervention services. “It’s about my kids. I wish more parents realized that.”

Don’t hesitate,” said Rebecca, another parent whose child saw positive growth because of early identification. “Your internal instinct as a parent isn’t always right. That was the hardest thing for me to get over. We owe it to our children.”


By making the decision to pursue a CPSE (Committee on Preschool Special Education) assessment, your preschooler can grow at his or her unique pace through a supportive network of professionals to achieve long-term benefits.


To help alleviate anxiety or concern around referring a child for a developmental evaluation, Michelle O'Connor Little Lukes Preschool, School Psychologist answers the following commonly asked CPSE questions.


Teachers, doctors, caregivers and parents can refer a child for a screening evaluation.

Q: What is a CPSE assessment?
A: A Committee for Preschool Special Education (CPSE) assessment allows a child to be properly and thoroughly observed, tested and evaluated across all facets. Through this examination, specialists are able to identify any developmental delays and determine if the child is eligible for preschool special education services.

Q: Who conducts CPSE assessments?
A: The CPSE assessment is typically conducted by a team of early childhood experts who specialize in areas including:


  Feeding Therapy

  Occupational Therapy

  Physical Therapy
  Speech/Language Therapy
  Social History

Q: Do parents have any input for the date and time of the assessment?
The parent does not pick the day and time of the meeting. The school district will pick it and send a letter to the family with the day and time. The letter is required to come 5 days before the meeting. If you have a conflict with the meeting, you can call the school district and ask them to reschedule it. 


Q: Ideally when is the best time to schedule an at-home CPSE assessment for a child?

A: If a child is being seen at home, the parent should try to schedule a time before or after naptime. If they schedule after a naptime then maybe do an hour after the child has woken up. It may be easier to see a child who has siblings when the siblings are at school, so they do not try and help with the testing. However, some kids are more comfortable when their older sibling is around, so maybe then. It really depends on the child and their schedule. I try to schedule kids between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. if possible, but sometimes an afternoon time.

What’s the parent’s role during the assessment?
Parents needs to fill out paperwork and answer questions about their child. They should try and not help their child when they are engaging in the structured tasks. It is the parents’ choice if they sit and watch testing or if they want to go into another room. Parents should help to make their child comfortable with the new adult. If there are siblings it is nice if the parent helps to keep them from engaging in the testing.


Q: How should parents explain the CPSE assessment to the child?

A: They should tell their child that a person, friend or adult is coming to play some games with them.

Generally speaking, what typically happens during the assessment?

A: Typically the school psychologist will bring paperwork for the parent to sign. This includes consent to test, social history, Medicaid consent and consent to receive the physical from the doctor’s office. Then the school psychologist will engage your child in a structured assessment for about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the child’s attention span and interest in the tasks.


Once the assessment tasks are completed, the school psychologist will then observe your child playing in their natural environment whether it is at home or at school/daycare for around 30 minutes. Sometimes the observation is done first and then the structured assessment. The school psychologist will ask the parents some questions about their concerns and also questions about the child’s self-help skills and social emotional skills. If the child is seen at school the child’s teacher will be asked similar questions as well.


If the child is seen at school or daycare without the parent present, the parent will be contacted via phone to answer these questions and to hear how their child did on the assessment tasks. Once these tasks are completed, the results of the assessment may be shared on the same day or the parents will receive a phone call in a few days and then be given the results.


When the other therapists complete their part of the assessment tasks they will engage in structured assessments with the child for about 30 to 45 minutes. They will also ask the parents questions about their specialty (e.g. speech, gross motor, fine motor, sensory processing). The therapists will either share the results that day or a few days later.


Q: Who is eligible for a CPSE assessment? 
A: Preschool-aged child between the ages of 2.9 to 5 years are eligible for a CPSE assessment. Children that are 2.6 years old can be evaluated but cannot start a SCIS program until they are 2.9. 


Q: What is the cost of a CPSE assessment?
A: There are not any costs associated with the CPSE assessment for participating families. Funding is provided through county taxes and state funds.


Q: Is there any additional paperwork or items I need to complete prior to the assessment?

A: You will need a current physical. Other necessary paperwork required for the assessment is a social history, consent to test, Medicaid consent and consent to get the physical from the doctor’s office.


Q: What can I expect after the assessment? 
If the committee determines the child is eligible for services these might be home-based, at preschool or daycare or a SCIS preschool program may be offered for a half or full day. Typical services may include speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy or special education teacher services based on the child’s individual needs.

Q: Why is it important to refer a child for a CPSE assessment if you have a concern but are unsure it’s really a developmental delay?

A: Anytime a parent has a concern they should have it looked into so they can feel like they are doing everything they can for their child.

Do you have concerns that a child you know or your own child may be struggling with a development delay? Review this 
easy referral document to understand how to easily proceed with an early intervention assessment or CPSE assessment.