GCPS Offers Two Early Childhood Preschool Programs:

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE or IPOP) - provides educational services for eligible children (ages 2-5) with developmental delays identified through the special education eligibility process. This program also is known as "IPOP" (Inclusion Placement Opportunities for Preschoolers) which serves both identified and typically-developing peers in a reverse-inclusion setting.


Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) - provides preschool services to a limited number of eligible at-risk children (age 4 on or before September 30) and who are not served by the Bridges Head Start Program located in Gloucester.


The Bridges Head Start Program is a federally-funded, comprehensive, early childhood educational program that serves income-eligible preschool children and their families. The program currently is funded for a limited number of children and their families in the counties of Charles City, King and Queen, King William, Gloucester, Mathews, Middlesex, and New Kent. Currently, there are twelve Head Start centers, with three centers located in Gloucester at the Thomas Calhoun Walker Education Center. Click the Bridges Head Start Program link for more information.  

Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) Information:

VPI Application

**Information about VPI is subject to change based on revisions of legislation by the General Assembly.

Program Highlights

• VPI is a state-funded preschool program for a limited number of resident four-year-old children who meet one or more at-risk/eligibility requirements defined by the General Assembly and Gloucester County Public Schools, and who are not served by the Bridges Head Start Program of Gloucester

• Each of Gloucester's VPI classrooms is led by a licensed early childhood teacher and qualified paraprofessional who follow "Virginia's Foundation Blocks for Early Learning: Comprehensive Standards for Four-Year-Olds"

• Capacity of each classroom is 18 children

• There is no cost to participate in the VPI Program; however, other Board-approved school fees may apply

• VPI classrooms follow the same schedule and school calendar as their host elementary school

• School transportation may be provided (to the extent that [a] resources are available; [b] the location of a child's permanent residence permits; [c] other eligibility criteria apply)


Eligibility Criteria

Eligible children must meet at least one of four mandated Virginia General Assembly criteria:

• At or below 200% of federal poverty level (FPL)
• Homelessness
• Child's parents or guardians are high school dropouts
• Family income is above 200% of FPL, but at or below 350% of FPL for children with special needs or disabilities as defined by state and federal regulations.

If none of the four mandated criteria is met, a school division also may consider additional local eligibility criteria; however, priority is given to those children who meet the primary criteria. These local criteria may include:

• Physical abuse, neglect, family abuse, substance abuse
• Single-parent household
• Foster care
• English Language Learner (EL)
• Parent incarcerated
• Parent military deployment
• Child raised by relative other than parent
• Other qualifying criteria or circumstances 

See Program Guide below for requirements regarding income verification. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis and must include all required residency and financial documentation before they will be considered for eligibility. If a school-site location has reached its capacity, a wait-list may be established.


Contact a school or email [email protected] for more information:

• Abingdon Elementary (804) 642-9885

• Achilles Elementary (804) 642-9140

• Bethel Elementary (804) 693-2360

• Petsworth Elementary (804) 693-6161

VPI Program Guide and Application


Program Guide 2020-2021 (updated June 2, 2020)

Application for 2020-2021

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

Program Highlights


• Each IPOP classroom capacity is twelve (12) children: up to eight identified eligible (ages 3-4), and up to four typically-developing peers


• IPOP classrooms are located at Abingdon, Bethel, Botetourt, and Petsworth schools


• The program for 3-4 year-olds is Monday-Thursday, with Fridays reserved for in-home services


• Identified eligible two-year-old children are served weekly in the home and in the classroom setting, depending upon the child's individual needs


• There is no cost for identified, eligible students; however, the tuition for typically-developing peers selected to participate is $400 per semester


• Transportation is NOT provided for typically-developing peers selected to participate


• Consistent daily routine, small group, and individualized instruction are provided in the classroom


• Training and activities are offered to parents to emphasize they are the child's first and most important teacher


More Information


Contact the Office of Special Education for additional information about the IPOP Program:

(804) 693-7880

LINK: Program Brochure 
LINK: Selection Process for Typical Peers
LINK: Application for Typical Peers