California Department of Education
The core purpose of the California Department of Education is to lead and support the continuous improvement of student achievement, with a specific focus on closing achievement gaps.
Special Education Division
The mission of the Special Education Division (SED) is to serve the unique needs of individuals with disabilities so that each person will meet or exceed high standards of achievement in academic and non-academic skills. This achievement will be represented by the ability of each person, in natural and formal settings, to demonstrate successful personal, vocational, and social interaction, including transition to the workplace and independent living.
The Director’s Office provides leadership and policy direction to ensure that all individuals with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education that allows them to achieve employment; effective citizenship; independent living; and the personal, academic, and social skills necessary for a quality adult life.
Child Development Division
The Child Development Division (CDD) funds agencies throughout the state so that families can find safe, healthy, and educationally enriched environments that are staffed by competent, caring adults. Funding is provided for services to low-income families, including welfare recipients, in licensed center-based programs, licensed family child care homes, and license-exempt settings, such as a family’s own home or the home of a relative or neighbor.
The eligibility for subsidized services continues to be based primarily on income and need, with additional criteria depending on program type and funding source. Care includes services for infant, preschool, and before- and after-school-age children through 12 years of age. Services to children at risk of abuse, neglect, and exploitation and children receiving protective services through county welfare departments remain a top priority.
For more information regarding child care and development programs, please contact the Child Development Division at 916/322-6233. Additional information is available on the CDE Child Development web page at www.cde.ca.gov.
State Special Schools and Services Division
The State Special Schools and Services Division operates the California Schools for the Deaf in Fremont and Riverside, the California School for the Blind in Fremont, and the three state diagnostic centers located in Los Angeles, Fresno, and Fremont. This division also includes the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit, which maintains a referral system for the California Newborn Hearing Screening Program.
Special Education Local Plan Areas
Infants and toddlers who have vision, hearing, and severe orthopedic impairments (or a combination of these disabilities) receive individually designed early intervention services from local education agencies (LEAs) such as school districts and county offices of education. Across the state, special education local plan area (SELPA) administrators coordinate early childhood special education programs, which include early intervention services.
Since 1980, state law included a partial requirement for early education programs to serve the number of infants and toddlers with disabilities that they served in 1980-81. LEAs also provide services to a number of additional children in order to continue to qualify for their current level of state funding.
LEAs provide early intervention services in the home, community settings, and centers. These services include special instruction, service coordination, family support, and other early intervention services identified in the child’s individualized family service plan (IFSP). LEAs also coordinate with regional centers and other local agencies and organizations in evaluation, assessment, and development of IFSPs.
For children who are dually served by a regional center and an LEA, basic special education and related services are usually provided by the LEA. Either LEAs or regional centers may be designated to provide service coordination. The regional center may also provide additional early intervention services or other available state services based on the needs of the child and family.
You can find a list of SELPAs by county here, or use the Search bar on the home page of this directory, select SELPA from the list of services and then select your county.