Recommendations and Resources for Local Programs and Providers
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 with funding.
- 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.