Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services are designed for children three through five years of age and their families, and are provided through local school districts, charter schools, and special education cooperatives. Eligible children with disabilities are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) in accordance with their individual needs.
Over 40,000 children in Texas receive individualized special education services each year as a part of IDEA 619 Preschool.
Professionals with training and expertise in special education implement ECSE services by supporting the educational needs of young children and families.
Early childhood professionals and related services personnel provide developmentally appropriate individualized educational services to children with disabilities in a variety of settings such as early childhood, preschool, child care, Head Start, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and other early childhood settings.
In 2009, the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) issued a Joint Position Statement that gave a much needed definition for early childhood inclusion.
"Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society.
The desired results of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include: A sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and the development and learning to reach their full potential."
"The defining features of inclusion that can be used to identify high-quality early childhood programs and services are access, participation, and support."
In addition, the US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Education set a vision for early childhood inclusion in their 2015 policy statement Inclusion of Children With Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs. It states “Inclusion in early childhood programs refers to including children with disabilities in early childhood programs, together with their peers without disabilities; holding high expectations and intentionally promoting participation in all learning and social activities, facilitated by individualized accommodations; and using evidence-based services and supports to foster their development (cognitive, language, communication, physical, behavioral, and social-emotional), friendships with peers, and sense of belonging.
This applies to all young children with disabilities, from those with the mildest disabilities, to those with the most significant disabilities.
US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Education Joint Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs
Recent Data on the Inclusion of Children With Disabilities in Early Care and Education Settings
National Inclusion Webinar Series (2016): Preschool Inclusion
Early Childhood Special Education and ESSA: A Great Opportunity for All
Indicators of High Quality Inclusion
Local District Preschool Inclusion Self-Assessment
IDEA Provisions Supporting Preschool Inclusion
ECTA Center Tools on Inclusion
Quality Indicators of Inclusive Early Childhood Programs/Practices
Determining Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Placements for Preschool Children with Disabilities: Reference Points and Discussion Prompts
Early Childhood Evidence-Based Practices
An Inclusive Preschool During the Pandemic: Remote Learning at Big Walnut Elementary School (video)
Re-Imagining Inclusion: High-Quality Inclusion for Young Children with Disabilities When Our World is Turned Upside Down
Within the Framework Webinar: Indicators of High-Quality Inclusion: A Comprehensive Set of Tools
Inclusion: The Role of the Program Administrator
LEAP Preschool: An Inclusive Model of Early Autism Intervention
Joint Position Statement of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
CONNECT Modules: Resources for Addressing Evidence-Based Practices That Support Inclusion
Project Managers, Inclusion in Texas Network
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