Special Education/Student Services » Early Childhood Assistance Team (ECAT)

Early Childhood Assistance Team (ECAT)

Welcome to North Haven Public Schools Early Childhood Assistance Preschool Program


IMPORTANT NOTICE:  We are currently seeking typically developing, 3-year-old children to serve as role models for our preschool program for the 2019-2020 school year.  Please refer to the files at the bottom of this page for more information and to download an application. Deadline for applications is September 27, 2019.


The Early Childhood Preschool Program offered in North Haven services children from 3 to 5 years of age who have been determined eligible through the Planning and placement Team (PPT). We are an integrated program and have typical role models who are part of the program. Children are grouped in the program according to their developmental level. Each classroom is staffed with a certified special education teacher and additional paraprofessional staff to allow for optimum adult to child ratios. The multi-disciplinary philosophy is carried out in the program through consultation and collaboration between team members. Supportive services including speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work and psychology are provided on a direct or indirect basis according to the child’s needs as specified in their individualized education program (IEP). Strategies and interventions are developed by the team and utilized by the teacher and staff, ensuring that individual needs are addressed continually and consistently. These strategies and progress are regularly communicated to the parents to facilitate carryover at home.


Peer models are an essential part of the daily program. They provide our children with disabilities with appropriate role models.   This program is available to children ages 3 to 5 residing in North Haven whose skills are determined to be age-appropriate. However, the class size is limited and therefore, a lottery system may be implemented. Typical peer models are charged a monthly tuition and transportation is not provided. Announcement of typical peer models is made in the spring for the next school year, via the Green Acres website and posted in local community newspapers.


We are a NAEYC accredited program.



Mission Statement

All students will be provided with a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment that allows all

students to develop readiness skills to be a lifelong learner in the community.


Early Childhood Assistance Program Philosophy  

The philosophy of the Early Childhood Preschool Program is based on the belief that play is the best means of facilitating learning in young children. This learning takes place in a language-based program where the children interact with each other and the environment through developmentally appropriate activities. Children learn to make choices through integrated cooperative play which develops problem solving skills, promotes independence, and fosters the growth of each child. These interactions also benefit the preschool child by developing cognitive, social, speech and language, fine and motor skills.






  •  Use a multi-disciplinary team, including parents, to determine student needs through Play-Based Assessment and on-going observation.
  • Develop and administer a multi-disciplinary program unique to each child’s specific needs.
  • Structure an integrated language-based environment.
  • Maximize opportunities for natural learning for both students with and without disabilities.
  • Develop and encourage choice-making skills.
  • Develop problem-solving skills which foster appropriate growth and independence while maximizing individual potential.
  • Develop cognitive, social, speech, language, motor and self-help skills through developmentally appropriate activities.
  • Facilitate parents in their role as active participants and advocates in their child’s education.
  • Successfully transition children to their next level of education


Contact Information

Intake Teacher: Julie Belcher, 203-239-5387, belcher.julieann@northhavenschools.org

Building Principal: Philip Piazza, piazza.philip@northhavenschools.org

Special Education Coordinator PreK-5: Zoe Dolan, dolan.zoe@northhavenschools.org


The district has a separate preschool program at North Haven High School. This program is not run by the Department of Student Services and has a different set of guidelines for admitting children and their program. Please CLICK HERE for more information about the North Haven High School Preschool Program.