Behavior Supports for Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

Children with Challenging Behaviors

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) programs are responsible for ensuring that a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is available and provided to all children with disabilities ages 3-5 in Arkansas. Children who are identified with challenging behaviors may be eligible to receive supports in this area.  A CHALLENGING BEHAVIOR meets one or more these criteria:


  • Is immediately harmful to the child and/or others,
  • Interferes with the child’s ability to learn and play, and/or
  • Puts the child at risk for future problems in school and in life.

Are you a parent or classroom teacher with concerns about a child’s behavior?

If your child is exhibiting challenging behavior, please contact your local early childhood program coordinator for information on potential supports and services.

If I am an Early Childhood Special Education provider, what options are available to support regular preschool staff who have children with challenging behaviors?

Challenging behaviors in the preschool setting can create special barriers to providing consistent daily routines.  Early childhood special education providers can provide resources and/or coaching and direct support for classroom teachers who may be unsure of next steps in supporting these children.  There are a few resources that early childhood special education providers can consider when a teacher requests assistance.

  1. Make sure the classroom staff is aware of the G.U.I.D.E. for Life Pre-K Edition and the expectations in each of the five principles.
  2. Use the Arkansas Early Childhood Behavior Support Portal decision tree to have discussions with the classroom staff.  This tiered model allows the team to work together from Tier 1 resources, which are quality social emotional strategies good for ALL children through Tier 3 and considerations for finding a good quality behavior/mental health provider for very young children.  Working through the questions Tier by Tier allows the team to determine if behaviors can be addressed through whole class instruction or if specialized strategies or a Behavior Intervention Plan may be necessary to support the child.
  3. If the child in question has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the early childhood special education teacher can consider if a Functional Behavior Assessment is warranted and consider adding a Behavior Intervention Plan to the child’s IEP.
  4. If the child in question has an IEP and the behaviors meet the criteria, the team can consider making a CIRCUIT referral for the child.  If accepted, Easterseals Outreach can assist in determining potential next steps to help the team to support the child. 
  5. Whether or not the child has an IEP, the program staff or IEP team could consider making a referral to Behavior Help.  This process involves onsite observations and support for the classroom staff in supporting the child.

Arkansas Early Childhood Pyramid Model Project

The Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Program is proud to announce coaches and site for Arkansas Early Childhood Pyramid Model Project. These teams will collaborate with the ECSE Program and the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) over the next two years to implement evidence-based practices around preschool classroom interaction skills and behavior support. We are so proud to have these programs on board and look forward to our journey together!

Pediatrics Plus Developmental Preschool - Conway, AR

       Coaches: Abby Baker and DeAnna Collins (both with Wilbur Mills Education Cooperative

Little Lions Child Development Center - Fort Smith, AR

       Coach: Destiney Baxter (Child Care Aware)

UAMs Kids First - Little Rock, AR

       Coach: Robyn Wessels (PD provider over several Pediatric Day Schools)

Bitty City Enrichment Center - Hot Springs National Park, AR

       Coach: Trish Staley (Dawson Educational Service Cooperative)

Stepping Stone School - Alma, AR

       Coach: Erica Holland

Dierks ABC preschool - Dierks, AR

       Coach: Cheryl Green (Dequeen Mena Education Service Cooperative)

Additional Coach: Shawnya Garcia (South Central Education Service Cooperative)


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