February 28, 2017
Child care providers play an important role in the lives of young children and their families and promoting inclusion in your program is good for everyone. In an inclusive program, children with and without special health care needs or disabilities have access to and participate in the same routines, play, and learning experiences as all other children. Inclusive practices within a program can provide peer role models, allow for opportunities to practice and teach new skills, create a level of comfort in a more diverse community and demonstrate compassion.
Including your program’s inclusion policies and practices in your handbook, written agreement or contract helps families clearly understand the ways you work to welcome and include all children.
What’s in an Inclusion Policy?
Inclusion policies may describe:
- What you do to welcome all children and families into your program, including children with special health care needs or children with disabilities and children who speak languages other than English
- Methods you use to meet each child’s individual needs
- Procedures you follow in working with professionals such as speech therapists, physical therapists, etc.
- How you participate as a team member and work with an IFSP or IEP team to make modifications and accommodations for children with special needs
- Any specialized training you and your staff receive related to diverse populations of children in your program
- Access to specialized equipment or resources to support children with special needs.
Look at your inclusion policies through the eyes of a parent whose child has special health care needs or a disability. What words sound welcoming and reassuring? How do the policies demonstrate exactly what you do to welcome all children into your program? Make any changes that will assure families that you will partner with them and work to meet their child’s individual needs.
Remember: For children with special health care needs or children with disabilities, getting needed services and being included can have significant impact on their lives and the lives of their family members.