I often get calls from anxious parents in the spring or early summer when they learn that their child cannot attend a particular preschool or start kindergarten if he or she is not “toilet trained.” Parents who had been waiting for their child to “outgrow” his or her poop problem now find themselves with a hard deadline and they want to know if I can make their child's poop problem go away or, at least, stop them from soiling their underwear before school starts. My answer varies with the age of the child and the severity of the encopresis, but it is usually,"No". We then discuss some other possible school options.
Many preschools are staffed and equipped to change messy diapers, so there is less of a problem for preschoolers, especially if teachers know that the parents are working with a healthcare professional to resolve the problem. Some (private) kindergartens (but not all), assume that there will be a few children who are not completely toilet trained on arrival but are likely to be toilet trained within two to three months.
Encopresis with or without soiling does not disqualify a child from enrolling in any public school classroom. Public schools are required by law (ADA) to provide free public education to each qualified student with a disability regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Encopresis qualifies as a disability. See Chapter 19 of the 2nd edition of my book, The Ins and Outs of Poop, for more information about specific support services.