The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) promotes policies and advances evidence-based practices that support families and enhance the optimal development of young children (0-8) who have or are at risk for developmental delays and disabilities. DEC is an international membership organization for those who work with or on behalf of young children (0-8) with disabilities and other special needs and their families.


The Division for Early Childhood was started in 1973 by a group of volunteers who cared deeply about the development of young children with special needs. DEC is one of 17 divisions of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the largest professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.

DEC's Organizational Structure

Change ­- The Art is to Change Before We Have To. . .

"Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day." ­ Frances Hesselbein


DEC is in the midst of a restructure. For the last several months, we have worked with DEC initiative leaders to discuss the restructure, to answer questions, to receive feedback. On July 1, we launched the restructure for all initiatives. Existing groups are working on transition plans and action plans.

Following is an overview of the initiative for full membership and our partners:

Why? Spotlight on DEC Priorities

The DEC restructure finds its roots in alignment with the DEC Priority Issues Agenda. Read the agenda and the updated end's statements here. This commitment must permeate the work of DEC internally and externally.

What? Who?
The DEC restructure was developed first by outlining the work of DEC as depicted on the Services, Supports, & Executive Strategy document. View the full document. After the "what" was clearly defined, next the "who" had to be defined. View the organizational chart. 


The Executive Office, charged by the Executive Board, assures the work, based on the DEC Priority Issues Agenda and DEC Ends, is accomplished through DEC's most significant resource, its volunteer workforce. Therefore, the “who” includes the DEC Working Committees, DEC Development Teams, and DEC Communities of Practice. Subdivisions remain a critical component of the organization, serving as State level ambassadors for the work of DEC, promoting DEC membership, supporting advancement of evidence­based practices, the DEC Recommended Practices, and DEC policy priorities across all states. DEC Executive Board members serve as liaisons to the work in full partnership with the Executive Office and as active members of the work.

And now, the How? 
 "Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time. What we really want is for things to remain the same but get better."­ Sydney J. Harris
DEC will continue to grow and advance through this restructure and over the course of the future only through the work of each and every one of us. We hope that you find your place in the work—work that must reflect the diversity of our workforce; work that must reflect the diversity of the families and children we serve. There will be many opportunities over the course of this next year and beyond!We rely on the expertise of each of you to accomplish the task, to truly promote the policies and evidence­based practices that will make a difference. We must work together to assure we achieve all that we hope to achieve. Thank for all you do and all you will do! Because it Matters!

Important Documents