After participating in short-term training, technical assistance, and coaching, staff at Preschool for All programs increase their understanding, knowledge, and skills about developmentally appropriate inclusive practices. Programs strengthen their internal systems to better serve children with disabilities and special health care needs and their families.
Three key features of high quality early childhood inclusive services described in the definition of early childhood inclusion* are access, participation, and supports. We are pleased to share highlights of some programs’ journeys toward embedding these features in their programs so that
- children with disabilities have access to the full range of learning experiences and environments,
- children can participate fully in play and all activities, and
- staff and families have the supports needed to implement high quality, inclusive practices.
*DEC/NAEYC (2009). Early childhood inclusion: A joint position statement of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Chapel Hill: The University of North Caroline, FPG Child Development Institute.
Examples of Our Work
Jamestown Community Center:
ASQ Training and Parent Leadership
SF Inclusion Networks partnered with staff at Jamestown Community Center, a community-based organization in the Mission District, to incorporate developmental screening into the organization’s existing birth-to-five parent-child programs and provide child development resources and referrals. The SF Inclusion Networks ASQ coach worked with the Jamestown Early Education Specialist in facilitating the development of a protocol for parents to use the ASQ-3 screening tool at home, including a follow-up home visit from Jamestown staff. When Jamestown experienced a reduction in its funding that would have eliminated the home visits, the coach problem-solved with the center how to continue the screenings.
Knowing that Jamestown Early Education Program embeds parent leadership in all aspects of its program, parent leaders called “promotoras” were identified to do the follow-up meetings. SF Inclusion Networks provided training for the promotoras on how they can support other families in using the ASQ-3 and other child development resources. By involving parents directly in the screening, parents are more invested in their children’s development and have the tools and information they need to support their children’s growth and learning and advocate for services that might be needed.
SF Inclusion Networks provided training, technical assistance, and coaching for staff and families at Utopia Preschool, which is part of St. Thomas More School in the Lake Merced district. The inclusion coach and the speech and language pathologist, a consultant with SF Inclusion Networks, worked closely with staff and families to identify and support children with speech and language delays. Staff received coaching on ways to reframe some children’s behaviors and help children to communicate more effectively.
SF Inclusion Networks also provided training and assistance to staff on communicating with a family when staff had a concern about a child’s development. Utopia staff reported learning additional skills to build trust with families and to partner with families in finding resources and options for their children.
Wah Mei Preschool:
Planning for Inclusion
SF Inclusion Networks provided training, technical assistance, and coaching for Wah Mei Preschool, which serves a largely bilingual (Chinese/English) community in the Sunset District. One area the inclusion coach focused on was coaching Wah Mei staff on building their skills to support children with speech and language needs. In addition to teachers reporting an increase in their competence and confidence in meeting children’s needs, the staff described shifts in their perceptions and attitudes about inclusion in general.
By the end of the six-month coaching period, staff felt they were more prepared to anticipate the needs of children who have or might have special needs. For example, teachers consider how to set up their classrooms and include elements of Universal Design for Learning so that all children can fully participate in the program.
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