The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services are encouraging greater inclusion of children with disabilities in preschools, Disability Scoop reports. The Department of Education has reported that while a majority of preschoolers with disabilities did attend general early childhood programs since 2013, more than half received special education in contained environments.
States are being urged to create task forces to promote early childhood inclusion, establish new policies, and allocate funds to facilitate these programs and track goals for expanding inclusive learning opportunities.
In a draft policy statement on the inclusion of children with disabilities by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the lag in progress on giving children with disabilities and their families access to inclusive early childhood programs is troubling for several reasons, such as:
- “Being meaningfully included as a member of society is the first step to equal opportunity, one of America’s most cherished ideals, and is every person’s right—a right supported by our laws.
- “A robust body of literature indicates that meaningful inclusion is beneficial to children with and without disabilities across a variety of developmental domains.
- “Preliminary research shows that operating inclusive early childhood programs is not more expensive than operating separate early childhood programs for children with disabilities.
- “Meaningful inclusion in high-quality early childhood programs can support children with disabilities in reaching their full potential resulting in societal benefits more broadly” (U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, 2015).
What are your thoughts on this urge for change in the early childhood setting?