Early identification and intervention for children with disabilities can significantly improve longer term outcomes, but in developing nations like many in the Pacific Rim, such programs and practices can be expensive and must compete against other needs. We argue that early identification and intervention by schools leads not only to life improvements for children with disabilities and their families but also to substantial additions to a nation's human capital. Therefore, national investment in special education and prevention systems that provide the earliest possible identification and effective interventions can not only offset the lifetime family and social costs of disabilities, but also can add importantly to general well-being. Moreover, new knowledge and technologies relevant to applied problems in early identification are rapidly emerging, potentially increasing the precision and lowering the costs involved. The bottleneck, however, is the inadequate supply of highly skilled professionals in the special and general education systems – from university doctoral training down to typical classroom teaching. Based on extant literature, we articulate some development principles to help developing education systems in choosing how they may best invest in early identification and intervention.

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