Early Learning:

Recommendations and Resources for Local Programs and Providers

Early Learning...

Recommendations for Local Early Learning Programs and Providers

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 local early learning programs and providers:

  1. Partner with Families:
    Families are children’s first and most important teachers and advocates. Schools and programs should ensure all families are knowledgeable about the benefits of inclusion and include them in policy development, advocacy efforts, and public information initiatives. They should build staff’s capacity to form strong goal-oriented relationships with families that are linked to their child’s learning, development, and wellness.

  2. Adhere to Legal Provision of Supports and Services in Inclusive Settings with IFSPs/IEPs:
    Local educational agencies, schools, and other local early intervention service providers should review their IFSP/IEP processes to ensure that inclusive settings are meaningfully discussed for each child.

  3. Assess and Improve the Quality of Inclusion in Early Childhood Programs:
    Pair children’s assessments with environmental assessments of their early childhood programs to ensure that there are appropriate accommodations and modifications to support children in reaching their goals.

  4. Review and Modify Resource Allocation:
    Local educational agencies, schools, and early childhood programs can examine the ways they allocate funds that serve children with disabilities and modify them to promote inclusion.

  5. Enhance Professional Development:
    A high-quality staff should have knowledge, competencies, and positive attitudes and beliefs about inclusion and disability in order to foster the development of all children. Specifically:

    • Local Educational Agency Administrators, Early Childhood Directors and Principals
      should participate in professional development focused on the research on inclusion, establishing a culture of inclusion and enacting strong inclusive polices, and practical resource allocation strategies that support inclusion. Leaders should require staff to engage in professional development specific to inclusion and supporting the learning and developmental needs of children with disabilities.

    • Teachers and Providers
      should have the skills necessary to meet the learning needs of all children. All professional development opportunities offered to early childhood staff should incorporate how the content applies and can be individualized for children with disabilities.

    • Early Interventionists, Special Educators and Related Service Personnel
      should deliver services to children with disabilities in early childhood setting and embedded in everyday routines and/or co-teach and coach early childhood teachers and providers to encourage inclusive educational environments, as opposed to focusing on working with children in separate settings or pulling children out of their settings for specialized instruction, as a first option.

  6. Establish an Appropriate Staffing Structure and Strengthen Staff Collaboration:
    Local educational agencies, schools, and early childhood programs should shift existing resources and systems to establish staffing structures and increase staff collaboration to better support inclusion. Early childhood programs could consist of a skilled teacher or provider and an aide, supported by specialized service providers. Programs should also have a disability or inclusion coordinator.

  7. Ensure Access to Specialized Supports:
    Early childhood programs and schools should have access to specialized supports delivered by experts. This specialized support can increase the quality of early learning experiences for all children.

  8. Develop Formal Collaborations with Community Partners:
    Early childhood programs and schools should establish formal agreements with service providers in their community to ensure alignment and delivery of comprehensive services.


Resources for Local Early Learning Programs and Providers

Free, federally-supported resources are available to help early learning programs and providers improve inclusive practices. Please note that this is not a complete list of resources, and we will continue to add more as they become available.

Last Modified: 06/21/2017