Registration Opens for the National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute

The National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute is one of the premier educational opportunities for anyone involved in the care and education of young children with special needs in inclusive settings.

The Keynote Address
Janice Fialka (left)–parent, poet, a compelling storyteller, and an award-winning advocate for families and persons with disabilities–will present the 2017 Keynote address. She is a nationally-recognized speaker, author, and advocate on issues related to disability, parent-professional partnerships, inclusion, and raising a child with disabilities.

Her newest book, What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community, and Love chronicles her son Micah’s journey of living a fully inclusive life. Special education pioneer Ann P. Turnbull said of it: “If I could recommend a single book about family life and disability to families and professionals alike, hands down, it is this one.”

The Popular Federal Plenary Session
Federal panelists return to share new information on early childhood policies and initiatives related to inclusion and to supporting children with disabilities and their families. Participants will have opportunities to ask questions and share their perspectives with the panelists.

A Movie-Maker and Her Brother
Two years ago, Jenna Kanell made the short award-winning romantic comedy Bumblebees about her younger brother, Vance, who has autism, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy. Using the film and Vance’s story, this year’s Family Plenary session will explore the role of early interventionists in supporting the entire family of a child with special needs, from the perspective of a sibling, parent, and the 20-year-old subject of the film himself. We will discuss the many ways that early interventionists provide hope to families when they need it the most, and how they prepare families for a future filled with amazing possibilities.

Dozens of world-class experts, dozens of groundbreaking sessions, free courses for CEUs—and an enduring impact.
For over 15 years, the Inclusion Institute has drawn people from across the country and around the globe to Chapel Hill to learn about the latest research findings, models, and resources to guide inclusive policy, professional development and practice; to develop collaborative relationships and cross-agency systems to support early childhood inclusion; and to have the opportunity to meet, learn from and problem solve with peers.

Read the 2016 Inclusion Institute Summary Report.

Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Least Restrictive Environments

1/9/2017

Dear Colleague:

We are writing to reaffirm the position of the U.S. Department of Education (ED or Department) that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs where they are provided with individualized and appropriate supports to enable them to meet high expectations. Over the last few years, States and communities have made progress in expanding early learning opportunities for young children, with all but four States investing in free public preschool programs.1 The Federal government, while aligning with the movement of States, has led several efforts to increase access to and the quality of early childhood programs, such as the Preschool Development Grants and expansion of Head Start. States have focused on improving the quality of early learning programs, including the development of early learning program standards and incorporating these into Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS).2

In September 2015, ED and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a policy statement on promoting inclusion in early childhood programs to set a vision on this issue and provide recommendations to States, local educational agencies (LEAs), schools, and public and private early childhood programs.3 Despite the expansion of early childhood programs, there has not yet been a proportionate expansion of inclusive early learning opportunities for young children with disabilities. Given this concern and the ED-HHS policy statement on early childhood inclusion, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is updating the February 29, 2012, Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to reaffirm our commitment to inclusive preschool education programs for children with disabilities and to reiterate that the least restrictive environment (LRE) requirements in section 612(a)(5) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA or Act) are fully applicable to the placement of preschool children with disabilities.4 This DCL supersedes the 2012 OSEP DCL and includes additional information on the reporting of educational environments data for preschool children with disabilities and the use of IDEA Part B funds to provide special education and related services to preschool children with disabilities.

The LRE requirements have existed since passage of the Education for all Handicapped Children Act (EHA) in 1975 and are a fundamental element of our nation’s policy for educating students with disabilities (the Education of the Handicapped Act was renamed the IDEA in 1990). These requirements reflect the IDEA’s strong preference for educating students with disabilities in regular classes with appropriate aids and supports. Under section 612(a)(5) of the IDEA, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, must be educated with children who are not disabled. Further, special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

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1 Walter N. Ridley Lecture: Pre-Kindergarten Access and Quality are Essential for Children’s Growth and Development (November 2, 2016), available at: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/walter-n-ridley-lecture-pre-kindergarten-access-and-quality-are-essential-childrens-growth-and-development. For more detailed but less recent information on State investments in public preschool see: Barnett, W.S., Friedman-Krauss, A., Gomez, R.E., Squires, J.H., Clarke Brown, K., Weisenfeld, G.G., & Horowitz, M. (2016). The state of preschool 2015: State preschool yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.

2 QRIS statewide systems are implemented in over half of the States and others are developing such systems. ED and the of Department of Health and Human Services have supported States in further developing such systems under Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge and the Child Care Development Fund. For more information see: https://qrisguide.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?do=qrisabout.

3 See U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Policy Letter on the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs (September 14, 2015), available at: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/earlylearning/joint-statement-full-text.pdf.

4 Although not discussed here, other Federal laws apply to preschool-aged children with disabilities as well. These laws include section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA). The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Section 504 and pursuant to a delegation by the Attorney General of the United States, OCR shares (with the U.S. Department of Justice and HHS) in the enforcement of Title II of the ADA in the education context. HHS has Title II jurisdiction over public preschools. 35 CFR §35.190(b)(3). Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the Department. 29 U.S.C. § 794, 34 CFR §104.4(a). Section 104.38 of the Department’s Section 504 regulations specify that recipients of Federal financial assistance from the Department that provide preschool education may not on the basis of disability exclude qualified persons with disabilities, and must take into account the needs of these persons in determining the aid, benefits, or services to be provided. 34 CFR §104.38. Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities, including public schools, regardless of whether they receive Federal financial assistance. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, 28 CFR Part 35 (Title II). Additionally, as applicable, entities providing preschool education must comply with the nondiscrimination requirements set forth in Title III of the ADA that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation, including businesses and nonprofit agencies that serve the public. The U.S. Department of Justice enforces Title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, 28 CFR Part 36 (Title III).

Source: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

Available at: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/preschool-lre-dcl-1-10-17.pdf 

Social-Emotional Learning & ECE Program Culture: How to facilitate resilience and inclusive culture, By Dr. Maurice Elias

Early Childhood Investigations Webinars

Time: December 16, 2015, 2:00pm to 3:30pm ET

Presenter: Maurice Elias

This presentation will focus on how early childhood education programs can systematically build social-emotional learning/emotional intelligence skills in young children and enhance program culture and climate.

While many nations, and states in the U.S., include social-emotional skills among their standards, there has been less emphasis on how to build those skills in sustained ways. That includes not only classroom instruction and routines, but also how parents are reached and addressed. This presentation will focus on the most relevant SEL skills for young children, how they can be developed in schools, and how educators can take a lead role in bringing parents along in their ability to become life-long promoters of their children’s SEL abilities. These strategies will improve school culture and climate to build an environment of inclusion for families, children, and staff. Specific techniques for emotion recognition and regulation, social awareness, empathy, problem solving, and relationship skills will be demonstrated via examples and videos. I will show how to improve school culture and climate, as well as children’s’ social-emotional development by integrating skill building into classroom routines (like circle time and moving into Centers), language/vocabulary (particularly emotion vocabulary), non-verbal cues (how to read stories’ pictures before text), reading (stories that older siblings and parents can read to young children to build their “EQ”), and parental follow through (how to foster “Emotionally Intelligent Parenting”). Opportunities for questions and follow up will be provided.

Source: Early Childhood Investigations Webinars

Available at: http://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.com/presentations/social-emotional-learning-ece-program-culture-how-to-facilitate-resilience-and-inclusive-culture-by-dr-maurice-elias/

Managing Mild Autism in Early Childhood Inclusive Classrooms: Top Teaching Strategies for Children with Mild ASD, by Michael Assel and Libby Hall

Early Childhood Investigations Webinars

Webinar Time: December 9, 2015, 2pm – 3:30pm ET
Presenters: Libby Hall and Michael Assel

Your program is proud to be an inclusive environment. Children of all abilities are welcome, and your teachers work hard to facilitate learning that meets every child’s needs, but they are frequently challenged  when it comes to engaging children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Without specialized training and/or individual aides, teachers often are often unable to find the right strategies to meet the needs of children with ASD. This actionable webinar will offer participants strategies they can use to engage and facilitate learning for children with ASD in early education classrooms through the lens of an expert, Dr. Michael Assel, and the lens of an experienced practitioner, Libby Hall. Both Mike and Libby have rich experience working with children with Autism in classroom settings. Join this webinar to learn the strategies they have used and refined through years of experience.

All sessions are 1.5 hours long, and include a brief announcement from our sponsor.

Can’t participate in our webinars at the appointed time? Never fear! All of the webinars are recorded. To view the recording, simply register now and you will receive an email with a link to the recording when it is ready to be viewed. You can still download the certificate by watching the recording to the end when the certificate link is announced and displayed on the screen.

*Please be advised that you will only be eligible for the great door prizes if you participate in the live session.

Source: Early Childhood Investigations Webinars

Available at: http://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.com/presentations/managing-mild-autism-in-early-childhood-classrooms-top-teaching-strategies-children-with-mild-asd-by-michael-assel-and-libby-hall/

Federal Officials Debut Draft Policy Statement at FPG’s Inclusion Institute 

5/18/2015

On May 12th at a special plenary federal panel (right) at the 2015 Inclusion Institute, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services debuted a draft policy statement with recommendations to states, local educational agencies, schools, and public and private early childhood programs for increasing the inclusion of infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities in high-quality early childhood programs. Both departments invited public comment about the statement through May 22 at http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/osers/.

“The federal interagency policy statement on inclusion is a significant milestone for all of us in the field of early development and education,” said FPG senior scientist Pamela J. Winton. “By building upon the 2009 position statement on inclusion developed by the two early childhood professional organizations, the Division for Early Childhood and the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the recommendations in the new policy statement solidify the federal commitment to moving the implementation of  inclusion beyond the current status quo.”

The new draft policy statement defines inclusion as the practice of including children with disabilities (regardless of the level of disability) in early childhood programs with their peers without disabilities. The statement recaps research in support of inclusion’s benefits to children with and without disabilities, outlines the legal foundation for inclusion, points out specific challenges to inclusion, and makes several state and system recommendations.“

What we know from implementation science suggests much work needs to be done to ensure the statement is more than just another piece of paper,” said Winton, who chairs the Inclusion Institute. “‘Who is in charge of next steps?’ and ‘How do we mobilize the passion and energy of individuals and groups on this topic?’ is an interesting set of questions that I hope can be addressed by leaders in the field.”

Source: FPG Child Development Institute

Available at: http://fpg.unc.edu/node/7744

Early childhood inclusion: Challenges and strategies from the 2014 Preschool Inclusion Survey

3/2015

This brief presents survey findings from the 2014 Preschool Inclusion Survey. It is based on a webinar that was held on October 28, 2014 and is Part 1 of 3 of the Preschool Inclusion Webinar Series, sponsored by ELC TA and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.

Source: Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance Program

Available at: https://elc.grads360.org/services/PDCService.svc/GetPDCDocumentFile?fileId=9652

Birth to Three Archive 2014

3/2015

The 18th Annual Birth to Three Institute (BTT) was a three-day event designed to enhance the quality of services for expectant parents, infants, toddlers, and families. Explore the plenary sessions and webinars below by topic. They may be helpful to: Early Head Start (EHS), Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start, child care, and family child care staff; training and technical assistance providers; and the broader early childhood community.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, Early Head Start National Resource Center

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/ehsnrc/btt/archive_2014.html

CEELO Fast Facts: QRIS and Inclusion

November 25, 2014

As the country quickly builds its efforts to enhance quality in early education and care classrooms, states are implementing Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) to recognize and improve the quality of programs. QRIS also provides technical support and increased financial benefits for participating programs to attain higher levels of quality. Developed initially as a voluntary system for providers in many states, participation in a QRIS is increasingly becoming a requirement for family child care and centers to receive state or federal funds. QRIS policy has been embedded in federal initiatives such as Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge and the Preschool Development and Expansion grants, mandating states to improve the quality of early education and care. Most important, QRIS is intended to provide consumers (parents) with a mechanism to differentiate quality of programs to determine which programs may provide better services for their children.

Source: Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes

Available at: http://ceelo.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/ceelo_fast_fact_qris_inclusion.pdf

Classroom Visuals and Supports

The Head Start Center for Inclusion offers a library of visual supports for teachers to use with children in the classroom. Look for illustrations of toys, art materials, daily schedule pictures, problem solving cue cards, and classroom certificates, to name just a few. Each one can be downloaded and printed out for immediate use.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center and Head Start Center on Inclusion

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/teaching/center/practice/engage/class-visuals.html