The Bismarck Early Childhood Education Program (BECEP) is a composite of six programs serving preschoolers and their families under one administration: Early Childhood Special Education, Community Friends, Head Start, Early Head Start, Early Intervention, and Right Track. Bismarck Public Schools is the grantee agency for BECEP and the Bismarck Public Schools Special Services Director is the Executive Director. BECEP serves over 2000 preschoolers with over 110 staff.
Head Start, the oldest of BECEP's six programs, started in 1965 as a summer program serving 280 children. In the fall of 1970, Head Start converted to a nine-month program serving 75 children. Head Start now serves approximately 119 children and their families.
Early Childhood Special Education started in 1972 as a grant from the US Department of Education. It has been funded through Bismarck Public Schools, State and federal funds since 1975. Early Childhood Special Education currently serves 200 children ages 3 to 6 in the Bismarck School District who are eligible for an Individual Education Program (IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The Community Friends program enrolls children ages 3 to 5 who demonstrate age-appropriate skills, which include good language and social-emotional skills and a developmentally appropriate activity level. Typically developing peers have been integrated into Early Childhood Special Education classes for approximately the past 15 years.
Early Intervention began in 1977 as a federally funded Demonstration Grant, serving children ages birth to 3 with developmental delays in Region VII of North Dakota. Early Intervention is currently funded under the ND Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities serving 315 children and their families in their homes.
Right Track started in 2003 as the Child Find Program in Region VII Of North Dakota, providing in-home developmental screenings, child development enrichment activities, and parenting information. Right Track currently serves about 1300 children ages birth to 3 and is funded under the ND Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities.
Early Head Start began in 2017 and is federally funded. It serves two expectant parents and 10 children, ages birth to 3 with priority given to teen parents who qualify under federal income guidelines. Services are provided in Burleigh, Kidder and Emmons counties.