Recommendations for States
States, local early learning programs and providers, and families must work together so that children with disabilities have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs.
The ED and HHS “Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs” offers the following recommendations to States:
- Create a State-Level Interagency Task Force and Plan for Inclusion:
States should leverage existing early childhood councils or taskforces and create or strengthen a focus on early childhood inclusion. This council should build on existing early childhood efforts, bring partners together, co-create a written vision statement for early childhood inclusion, and carry out an inclusion state plan.
- Ensure State Policies Support High-Quality Inclusion:
States should review their policies to ensure that they facilitate high-quality inclusion. The state should ensure that future early learning initiatives within the state have specific policies and procedures to recruit, enroll, and appropriately support the learning and developmental needs of young children with disabilities.
- Set Goals and Track Data:
States should set concrete goals for expanding access to inclusive high-quality early learning opportunities, and track progress in reaching these goals.
- Review and Modify Resource Allocations:
States should review how resources are allocated and how they may be reallocated to better support increased access to inclusive early childhood programs. States should consider using funds across multiple early childhood programs, particularly IDEA funds with other early childhood funding streams.
- Ensure Quality Rating Frameworks are Inclusive:
Each level in a quality framework should include indicators applicable to children with disabilities, as opposed to indicators specific to children with disabilities being optional or only applying at the highest level of a framework.
- Strengthen Accountability and Build Incentive Structures:
The state should address barriers inclusion within their accountability system. This should include reviewing the individualized education program (IEP) process to ensure that placement decisions are individualized and consistent with least restrictive environment requirements for eligible children under the IDEA.
- Build a Coordinated Early Childhood Professional Development (PD) System:
An effective early childhood workforce is a key component of expanding access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs. States should ensure that their professional development efforts are coordinated and that inclusion and children with disabilities are meaningfully addressed across all efforts. Specifically, states should:
- Build a Common Knowledge and Competency Base Across Child-Serving Providers
- Ensure that State Certifications, Credentials, and Workforce Preparation Programs have a Strong Focus on Inclusion
- Ensure Personnel Policies Facilitate Inclusion
- Offer Cross-Sector Professional Development and Technical Assistance
- Implement Statewide Supports for Children's Social-Emotional and Behavioral Health:
Early childhood programs should have access to specialists who can build capacity in working with young children, with an emphasis on fostering social-emotional and behavioral health.
- Raise Public Awareness:
The tate should partner with community leaders to communicate the benefits of early childhood inclusion, affirm the laws and research that form the foundation for inclusion, and set the expectation that the community is responsible for ensuring that all children have access to high-quality early childhood programs and the individualized supports they need to fully participate in those programs.
Resources for States
Free, federally-supported resources are available to help States improve inclusive practices in early childhood programs. Please note that this is not a complete list of resources, and we will continue to add more as they become available.
- Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL)
CSEFEL focuses on promoting children’s social emotional development and school readiness. The website contains training modules, training kits, videos, practical strategies and research syntheses.
- CONNECT: The Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Learning Knowledge
CONNECT developed modules that are practice-focused instructional resources for faculty and other professional development providers. They are designed to build practitioners’ abilities to make evidence-based decisions.
- The Early Childhood Personnel Center (ECPC)
ECPC facilitates the implementation of integrated and comprehensive systems of personnel development (CSPD) in early childhood, for all personnel serving infants and young children with disabilities. Resources include a map of states’ standards and quality indicators for a personnel/workforce system.
- Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center’s (ECTA’s) Inclusion Resources
ECTA provides a variety of national and state resources on inclusion, least restrictive environments (LRE), and natural environments, including a compilation of quality indicators of inclusive programs and practices.
- Head Start Center for Inclusion
The Center provides resources to assist personnel in Head Start programs to include children with disabilities. The website contains detailed training modules, PowerPoint presentations, video clips, and additional training resources such as worksheets and group activities.
- Head Start Early Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC)
ECLKC serves as a portal to all Head Start and Early Head Start funded national centers, training resources, and regulatory requirements.
- Head Start National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL)
NCQTL provides resources on early learning instruction, transition to kindergarten, teacher development, and a model for practice-based coaching.
- IRIS Center
IRIS resources and materials are primarily designed for use by college and university faculty, professional development providers, and practicing educators and includes instructional modules on inclusion, video vignettes, activities, resources on accommodations and working with families, and research summaries.
- National Center on Child Care Professional Development Systems and Workforce Initiatives
The Center worked with Child Care and Development Fund grantees, Head Start/Early Head Start leaders, and their partners to design and implement professional development systems that align with other early childhood quality improvement efforts. The center developed the following guides:
- Core Knowledge and Competencies Planning and Implementation Guide: This resource is a planning and implementation guide for developing, revising, and implementing core knowledge and competencies. The guide describes an aligned state and territory professional development system.
- Distance Learning Planning and Implementation Guide: This resource is a planning and implementation guide for use in developing and strengthening distance learning options as part of an aligned professional development system.
- Technical Assistance Planning and Implementation Guide: This resource is a planning and implementation guide for developing and strengthening technical assistance supports.
- National Professional Development Center for Inclusion (NPDCI)
NPDCI developed landing pads with evidence-based practices around Access, Participation, and Supports. Tools were developed to assist states and communities design cross-sector systems of professional development.
- Planning Matrix for Early Childhood Professional Development can be used as part of a statewide planning process to gather information from representatives of early childhood agencies and initiatives regarding professional development efforts.
- The Landscape: A Statewide Survey for Providers of Professional Development in Early Childhood is designed to help State agency administrators gather information about early childhood professional development activities across various sectors in a state.
- SpecialQuest Multimedia Training Library
The SpecialQuest Multimedia Training Library supports the inclusion of young children with disabilities, birth to five, and their families in early care and education settings. The SpecialQuest materials and approach have been used with over 5,000 participants nationwide, refined over a period of ten years, and have been shown to create and sustain change. Materials are provided at no cost.
- Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI)
TACSEI uses evidence-based practices for improving the social-emotional outcomes of young children. It has developed a variety of training resources such as make and take workshops, tools, and materials for implementing the Pyramid Model.