Child Development & Education Support Services (CDESS) is a Community program that addresses the special education needs of children with disabilities from birth to five, identified through Child Find activities which include screening, identification, and referral procedures.  CDESS provides support to families through education and developmental services. They assist their children in reaching their full potential.


The mission of CDESS is to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities and to minimize their potential for developmental delays by evaluating, and identifying the needs of all children that reside in the Gila River Indian Community who have special needs. This is done by collaborating with local, state and federal agencies and service providers including local education agencies to help improve the potential for individuals with disabilities to live independently in society.

Vision Statement

CDESS is committed to providing the Gila River Indian Community with services, opportunities and resources to families with young children with cognitive and physical developmental delays.

ECSS Staff

Joann Nelson, Special Services Manager
Contact Info: (520) 562-3882
Celluar: (520) 610-2231

Eugenia Webb, Administrative Assistant
Contact Info: (520) 562-5782

Merla Shorthair, Secretary I
Main Line: (520) 562-3882
Contact Info: (520) 562-5790

Rebekah Regnell, Special Education Teacher
Contact Info: (520) 562-5791

Dominique Blackmon-McKinley, Early Intervention Specialist
Contact Info: (520) 562-5775

Gabriella Alvarez, Lead Early Intervention Specialist
Contact Info: (520) 562-5783

Delores Begay, Early Intervention Specialist
Contact Info: (520) 562-5790

Areal Alderete, Special Education Teacher
Contact Info: (520) 562-5793

Diana Pompa, Early Intervention Specialist
Contact Info: (520) 562-5790

Deborah Gonzales, Liaison Caseworker
Contact Info: (520) 562-3882

Sara Neff, Special EducationTeacher
Contact Info: (520) 562-2434

Demeshia Clauschee, Language Pathology Assistant
Contact Info: (520) 562-5789

Christopher Smith, Student Behavior Specialist
Contact Info: (520) 562-5777

Nannette Lee, Student Behavior Specialist
Contact Info: (520) 562-5792

Are You Concerned?

Each child is special and develops different skills at his or her own pace.  Skills such as walking and talking are also known as Developmental Milestones and they usually occur by certain ages.  Watch carefully to see how your child is growing and learning. 
If you suspect that your child or a child that you know may have developmental delays, we encourage you to follow the referral links below or contact our office directly at (520) 562-3882.Your initial contact will begin the screening process which includes the following:

  1. Your call will be logged in our database. (All information is held with the highest confidentiality in accordance with FERPA)
  2. CDESS will contact you within 2 days to collect important information regarding your child.
  3. If your child requires medical screenings our office will provide the appropriate referral.
  4. After this process is completed, your child’s concern will be assigned an Early Interventionist.

Birth to Three years**Referral for Developmental Screening Birth to Three (See Attachment)
Referrals are accepted from parents, doctors, Tribal Social Services, collaborative programs and agencies.  The Program will screen your child to see if their development is appropriate for his/her age. Screenings and evaluations are at no cost to the family.  Following a child’s screening, a family may enroll their child to be monitored or a family plan will be developed and services will begin.

Children 3 to 5 years **Referral 3-5 Year Olds (See Attachment)
Services are available through your local Community school, Head Start, FACE or Early Education Center.  The family or teacher of a child may request a referral for an evaluation.  This may lead to an Individualized Education Plan for children who require specialized assistance or support services.

Child Development & Education Support Servces is a community-based program partnering with families who have children with disabilities assisting them in cultivating their child’s future potential.

ECSS Common Questions

Program Brochure

Special Education Online Resources

- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997
- Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
- Parental Rights/Procedural Safeguards
- No Child Left Behind
- Raising Special Kids
- Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP)
- Teacher Certification Special Education