Effective inclusive early childhood education has been a primary work focus of the Early Childhood Center since the late 1980's. Since that time, we have leveraged evidence-based practices in effective preschool inclusion, our firsthand knowledge and collective experience of over 100 years working as practitioners in early childhood special education and speech and language pathology to inform our work with stakeholders. Examples of our stakeholder partners are, community or private early childhood programs and state administration agencies in education, early intervention, and child care education.
One stakeholder partnership we highlight here is our work with the Indiana Department of Education Office of Special Education on preschool inclusion. This work has multiple efforts:
- Initial Investigation of the current preschool inclusion landscape
- Awareness building to share the gathered data to inform decision making
- Development of the Indiana Directory of effective inclusive models
- Provide intensive technical assistance to school corporations ready to go forward with increasing preschool inclusion
A brief description of each of these efforts follows.
Initial Investigation of the current preschool inclusion landscape
Currently, Indiana provides less than one in three preschool children with disabilities which is below the national average of 30%. In 2016, the Indiana Department of Education Special Education Office asked ECC to conduct an initial inclusion study to gather and analyze data to better understand preschool inclusion in Indiana, what are corporations doing and why. We analyzed preschool placement and impact data to find corporations providing inclusion. We developed a survey and interview format embedded with evidence-based practices to collect data from over 60 administrators and practitioners about service model, classroom practices, and challenges they faced in implementing preschool inclusion. Samples of reported evidence-based practices: special education services delivered within classroom routines and activities and weekly collaboration between general and special education practitioners. Reported challenges: funding and locating qualified special education practitioners.