What is Inclusion?


Inclusion means that every child and his or her family, regardless of ability, has the right to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society. Children with and without disabilities and their families experience a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential.


Inclusive Programs are Defined by:

Access - key unlocking a lock, Participation - hands raised, Supports - gears working together


means providing a wide range of activities and environments for every child by removing physical barriers and offering multiple ways to promote learning and development.

Participation - hands raised


means using a range of instructional approaches to promote engagement in play and learning activities and a sense of belonging for every child.

Support - 3 gears turning


refers to broader aspects of the system such as professional development, incentives for inclusion, and opportunities for communication and collaboration among families and professionals to assure high quality inclusion.


Adapted from DEC/NAEYC. (2009). Early Childhood Inclusion: A Summary. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development Institute. Adopted by the San Francisco Childcare Planning and Advisory Committee, 2011.

Why Inclusion?

Children with disabilities benefit by:

  • Being with peers, allowing them to learn and practice social and communication skills.

  • Having realistic life experiences that prepare them to be full members of their communities.

  • Forming friendships with typically developing peers.

  • Not being separated, segregated, and labeled.

Children without disabilities benefit by:

  • Developing accepting attitudes toward all people, including those who are different from themselves.

  • Learning more realistic and accurate views about people with disabilities.

  • Having models of people who successfully achieve despite challenges.

Families of children with disabilities benefit by:

  • Having opportunities to develop relationships with families of typically developing children.

  • Receiving support so they feel less isolated.

Families of children without disabilities benefit by:

  • Having opportunities to develop relationships with all families.

  • Teaching their children about individual differences and about accepting people who are different.

Early care and education providers benefit by:

  • Developing networks of professional service and community resources.

  • Increasing their knowledge about teaching children with disabilities and improving their skills overall as educators.