Including care as part of early support for infants and toddlers (2023)

Including care

  • Topic overview
  • Including care and early support
  • Including environments
  • relationship with families

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Including care as part of early support for infants and toddlers (1)

Including care as part of early support for infants and toddlers

The Council for Exceptional Children's Division of Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provide the following definition of early childhood inclusion. For more helpful information and recommendations, see his full statement,“Inclusion in Early Childhood”.

Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies and practices that support the right of all infants and young children and their families, regardless of their abilities, to participate in a variety of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities and society. Desired outcomes of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belonging and belonging, positive social relationships and friendships, and the development and learning to reach their full potential. Access, participation and support are the defining characteristics of inclusion that can be used to identify quality early childhood education programs and services. (DECEMBER AND NAEYC, 2009)

What do young children with special needs need?

consequentlyEarly Childhood Education Knowledge and Learning Center infographic, these children will need the following:

  • "Their families, early childhood education and care workers, and other service providers need to work together as quickly as possible because ... they are creating a strong foundation to support optimal development."
  • "Early intervention screening, assessment, and appropriate services as soon as possible because ... strengthening early brain and physical development can reduce the prevalence of current and future challenges."

Head Start Knowledge and Learning Center for Early Childhood. (2018). Infographic: Infants with special needs.

In other words, inclusion means providing appropriate accommodation and support so that each child can achieve their full potential. Inclusion requires acceptance and compassion, and a commitment to creating a culture of belonging for all children and their families.

We all need a sense of belonging and feel like we belong. This is the essence of inclusive childcare: making every infant and toddler feel an important and accepted member of the group. Inclusive care practices benefit everyone in the group (PITC, undated).

What does the law require?

The Disabled Infant and Child Program is also known as Part C of the Disability Education Act, or simply Part C (IDEA, 2004). It is a federal grant program that assists states in providing early intervention (EI) services to children ages 3 and younger and their families.

Each state and territory has its own Part C delivery system, including an agency that oversees the ECEC system for children from birth to age 3. The system includes things like assessment and evaluation, eligibility for Part C services, and the development of Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs).

You can find the coordinator for Part C in your state here:Center for Technical Assistance in Early Childhood.

Congress instituted this program in 1986 in recognition of the "urgent and serious need" for:

  • promoting the development of infants and children with disabilities;
  • Reducing the cost of education by minimizing the need for special education through early intervention;
  • minimizing the likelihood of institutionalization and maximizing independent living; Is,
  • increasing the capacity of families to meet the needs of their children (ETCAC, undated, "Summary").

Part C states that ECE services and support must be provided in natural settings, including the home and community where children would participate if they did not have disabilities.

How do childcare workers create inclusive environments that encourage a sense of belonging?

A resource for frequently asked questions

  • What is Development Assessment?
  • Because it's important?
  • What is the difference between triage and evaluation?
  • I'm worried about a child; How can I find more information to know if he or she is on the right track?

Have you ever asked yourself questions like these or other questions related to child development and caring for children with disabilities?

For answers to your questions, links to important resources, and more, visit the Head Start Early Childhood Knowledge and Learning Center's FAQs on caring for children with special needs. The answers apply to all children, not just those enrolled in Head Start or Early Head Start.

Head Start Knowledge and Learning Center for Early Childhood. (2017). Frequently Asked Questions: Disability.

There are many ways to create inclusive environments and learning experiences, and to build skills that will help you work with families and other professionals, such as: B. Early Intervention Specialists, Child Mental Health Specialists, other staff or leaders of community programs and partners.

Whether you are new to this field or have many years of experience, your personal and professional experience can help you support quality, inclusive childcare for children and families. The following questions can help you reflect on your experiences and how best to include infants and young children with disabilities and their families in your childcare environment. Also at the end of this article is a resource list of websites that provide information and strategies for inclusive infant and young child care.

It's good to remember that belonging begins with strong relationships. All children, including children with special needs, grow and learn through strong adult-child relationships. Caregivers and program leaders (including family daycare owners and operators) play an important role in helping all infants, young children, and families feel safe, included, and valued.

Inclusive Nursing Practices: Questions for Thought and Action

To answer these questions, you can conduct a self-assessment of the inclusive care practices in your program using a checklist like the following:

  • What is your experience of caring for infants and young children with disabilities or other special needs? How can you share your experiences and views with your colleagues?
  • If you are new to the care of infants and young children with disabilities, do you have any ideas, questions, or concerns after reading this section?
  • How is inclusion addressed in your program philosophy, policy and practice?
  • What support and resources do you need to build your confidence and ability to care for children with special needs? How can you work together in your program to ensure all caregivers and staff have the support they need?
  • What systems have you put in place to support childcare workers in providing quality care for infants and children with disabilities?


From birth to 5 years: watch me thrive!It is a federally coordinated effort to advance developmental and behavioral assessment and support for children, families, and the providers who care for them. Visit this site for resources and more information.

A compendium of screening measures for young children.From birth to 5 years: watch me thrive! A compendium of screening measures for young children. This compendium introduces a first class set of detection tools.

California Inclusion and Belongings Card: Enable Access:This site is where you'll find important inclusion information and publications, including the Works for Inclusion book and PowerPoint training presentations created by the Making Access Possible (MAP) team.

Inclusive day care center (CICC):Explore this network for comprehensive resources, training and advice on supporting inclusive childcare in community settings.

Bibliothek des Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR):Search CPIR's resource library for webinars, articles, and publications to share with families and other providers on a variety of topics, including the Disability Education Act, other laws, and early intervention.

CONNECT-Module:Take these online, self-paced courses to improve your inclusive practices. This resource comes from the Frank Porter Graham Institute for Child Development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Desired results Access the project's video library:Watch these videos to improve your skills in observation, documentation, assessment, training, counseling, reflective practice, family education, and professional development. The videos are provided by the Napa County Office of Education Center for Research and Professional Development, Rohnert Park, California.

Early support and school readiness for infants and toddlers with special needs:Watch this 55-minute video to learn how you can adapt attitudes and practices to support the school readiness of infants and young children with special needs. Provided by the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center.

Head Start Early Childhood Knowledge and Learning Center (ECLKC) page on children with disabilities:Visit this ECLKC website for information on quality inclusion, personalized teaching and learning, FAQs, and disability-specific resources.

Inclusive Subjects:Listen to these podcasts from inclusion professionals on inclusion-related topics. The podcasts are produced by the Center for Inclusive Child Care (CICC). Training units are available.

Recognize the Signs: Act Early:Find early warning sign development milestone materials and resources from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.

Provision of early care services in natural settings:Find resources on the Education Act for Persons with Disabilities, defining natural environments, key roles in early intervention, and developing individual family care plans. This information comes from the Parent Information and Resource Center.

High quality inclusion series:Watch this webinar series covering cutting-edge research on assessment, screening, evidence-based practices to support individual care, and partnership with parents. This series is from the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center.

Special needs and inclusion:Watch this video from the California Early Childhood Educator Competency Series to explore program guidelines for inclusion, developmentally appropriate practices, working with families and service providers, and customizing environments and devices for babies, toddlers, and young children with disabilities or other special needs.

Do you see me! Celebrating milestones and sharing concerns:Take this 1-hour, 4-module online training course to learn the tools and best practices for monitoring the development of children in your care. This training is provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, continuing education units are available.

zero to three:Explore the Zero to Three website to find information and resources on early childhood development, early learning, parenting, and policies and advocacy to support the unique needs of infants and young children.


Improving the Education of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2004, 20 U.S.C. § 1400. (2004). recovered from

Division of the Early Childhood Council for Exceptional Children (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (2009). Inclusion in early childhood [positioning]. recovered from

Center for Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTAC). (North Dakota.). Early Intervention Program for Infants and Young Children with Disabilities (IDEA Part C) [website]. recovered from

Infant/Child Care Program (PITC). (North Dakota.). The Six Guidelines of the PITC Program [website]. recovered from


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