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About Us



The ECHO Joint Agreement is a special education cooperative of 17 school districts (15 elementary and 2 high school districts) providing services to approximately 1000 students with disabilities in south Cook County, Illinois. Communities serviced include East Hazel Crest, Burnham, Dixmoor, Harvey, Lynwood, Phoenix, Riverdale, Dolton, South Holland, Thornton, Lansing, and Calumet City. ECHO also provides services to non-member districts in the communities of Homewood, Flossmoor, Matteson, Park Forest, Glenwood, Sauk Village, Ford Heights, Chicago Heights, Steger, and Olympia Fields.


Between the home school district and the ECHO cooperative, a continuum of services is provided to all students with disabilities ages birth through 21. While school districts provide special education and related services to the majority of students with disabilities, ECHO serves as an extension to each school district, providing programs and services for students with moderate and severe disabilities, and for students whose behavior requires additional supports and interventions. ECHO also operates specialized programs for students with severe hearing, vision and orthopedic/physical disabilities.


The philosophy of the Cooperative is to serve as a partner with districts, parents, and the community, in providing equal educational opportunities to all students regardless of their needs. ECHO promotes that to the greatest extent possible, students are educated in their home districts or as close to the students’ homes as possible.


(ABLE) Adaptive Behavioral Learning Environment Program

ABLE Program provides services for students, ages 5 through 21, with needs related to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disabilities. Students that benefit from the program have needs in the areas of verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions, sensory processing/regulation and academic progress.


(AFL) Academy For Learning

The Academy for Learning School is a public day school designed to meet the educational and therapeutic needs of students not experiencing success in their home high schools due primarily to behavioral/emotional problems. Individual student behaviors vary greatly, ranging from aggression to withdrawal. However, one thing remains constant – failure to be successful in the home school environment.

(CD) Communication Development

The Communication Development Program (CD) serves children grades kindergarten through 8th who have speech and/or language deficits that interfere with their educational achievement in the general education setting and which cannot be appropriately addressed by a resource program, or other instructional program.


(DHH) Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Program provides services to students from early childhood through high school who have hearing losses ranging from mild to profound. Both instructional classrooms and itinerant services are offered to students who reside within our member districts.


(EASE) ECHO Academic Skills Education Program

The ECHO Academic Skills Education Program serves students (3rd through 8th grade), who have multiple needs, often including cognitive, language, physical, health and/or vision needs. As a Low-Incidence Program, this ECHO Program provides service to students with complex disabilities throughout the 17 district South Cook region as their supported, yet least-restrictive, effective educational environment option.

(EC) Early Childhood

MacArthur School is an early childhood program that focuses on creating academic and functional opportunities through play and hands on exploratory learning.  Staff members from a variety of disciplines work collaboratively to create an integrated model of teaching.  This unique integrated service delivery model focuses on interweaving language therapy, motor therapies, & technology so that students’ opportunities are maximized. 


ECHO School

ECHO School serves students with a primary classification of moderate to profound Intellectual disability.  Many ECHO School students also have other disabling conditions which impact their educational needs.  ECHO School provides a variety of services to meet these wide ranging educational needs.

(FEP) Family Enrichment Program

The Family Enrichment Program (FEP) is a Prevention Initiative Program funded by the ISBE Early Childhood Block Grant.  FEP provides prevention services to expecting parents and families with children from birth to age 3 who are at-risk of academic failure residing in the ECHO 17 member school districts. Research shows that high quality, comprehensive center-based programs can be especially effective in promoting healthy early development. The goal of FEP is to provide early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services to help families build a strong foundation for learning, to prepare children for later school success.


(PACE) Providing Alternatives For Continuing Education

PACE Program is a therapeutic environment designed to meet the varied behavioral, emotional, and academic needs of its diverse population.  Our program uses the community model and positive behavioral intervention strategies (PBIS). Staff members work cooperatively with students to create an emotionally safe environment geared toward increasing self-esteem and academic achievement.  Socially appropriate behaviors are taught through a social skills curriculum and behavior management system. 

PHI-VI Itinerant Services

The Physically / Health Intervention – Visually Impaired Instructional Program serves students (aged 5 through 21), who have physical (orthopedic / neuromuscular), health or vision disabilities.  As a Low-Incidence Program, this ECHO Itinerant Program provides service to students with complex disabilities throughout a multi-cooperative region as their supported, yet least-restrictive, effective educational environment option.


ECHO Transition Program

The Transition Program serves students with disabilities ages 18 through 21 who have completed four years of a high school special education program. The multi-needs program emphasizes student independence and vocational skill development. Transition services, such as job coaching and life skills development, are offered as well as the related services included on the students' IEP. The goal of the program is to support the student's success as they transition to a productive adult life.