Inclusion of young children with disabilities from birth through age 5 in early learning settings is associated with positive social outcomes for all children when teachers plan and encourage frequent social interactions between children with disabilities and their peers. We will share resources to support preschool teachers in their efforts to provide, plan for, and promote meaningful social interactions between children in inclusive classrooms.
Early childhood inclusion was defined by a joint position statement of the Division for Early Childhood and the National Association for the Education of Young Children in 2009. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education issued this important policy statement on the inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood programs.
Indicators of High Quality Inclusion
The inclusion indicators are designed support state and local program leaders to examine and implement strategies that strengthen their capacity to provide high quality inclusive options in their communities. The goal of the initiative is to improve and increase inclusive opportunities for young children with disabilities ages birth through five and their families, through system and practice refinements. The indicators can be used to identify gaps and strengths with the goal to increase access to high quality programs that include and actively support the participation of children with disabilities.
These address inclusive policies and practices at the state, community, local program, and early care and education environments levels.
- The State Indicators detail the key elements needed to be in place for an early childhood infrastructure across state agencies and federal programs. They are designed to inform state level leadership efforts relative to supporting high-quality inclusion across the state to increase access and meaningful participation of young children with disabilities.
- The Community Inclusion Indicators are used by Community Inclusion Teams to bring service providers and families together to build community-wide awareness and vision of the importance of early childhood inclusion. The indicators assist cross-sector early childhood leadership efforts relative to supporting high-quality inclusion across programs in the community to increase access and meaningful participation of young children with disabilities.
- The Local Program Indicators detail the key elements that are necessary for promoting high-quality inclusive policies, procedures and practices within a program. These indicators are used by leadership teams to establish the implementation infrastructure for providing high quality inclusive practices.
- The Early Childhood Education Environment Indicators detail the key elements that are necessary for implementing high-quality inclusive practices in early childhood settings. They are designed to assist personnel in providing effective supports and services to young children with disabilities.