U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Issue Policy Statement on Inclusion in Early Childhood Programs

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On September 14th, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services jointly released a policy stating that:

"....all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations."

(See http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/earlylearning/joint-statement-full-text.pdf)

The departments stress that all young children with disabilities should have access to high quality inclusive early childhood programs and these programs should be individualized and provide appropriate support to meet high expectations. The joint statement:

Sets an expectation for high-quality inclusion in early childhood programs;

Highlights the legal and research base for inclusion;

Identifies challenges to adopting inclusive practices;

Provides recommendations to States and local programs and providers for increasing inclusive early learning opportunities for all children; and

Links to free resources for States, local programs and providers, and families that have been developed to support inclusion of children with disabilities in high-quality early education programs.

The statement continues for twenty pages stressing the importance and benefits of inclusion in early childhood programs and providing ideas on how to attain that inclusion. While, this statement addresses inclusion in early childhood, the departments stress that they have a "shared vision that all people be meaningfully included in all facets of society throughout the life course." 

Related Issues: 
Community Integration
Education