Special Needs and Inclusive Practices

What is Inclusion?

Inclusion means inviting all children to participate in a child care program and intentionally planning for ways to help every child be successful, whether or not that child has an identified disability.

Benefits of Inclusion

Inclusion is a valuable opportunity for everyone: providers, teachers, parents, children, families and facilities. Young children are very accepting and learn quickly from adults who model acceptance. Society benefits when children develop an understanding of individual needs and learn to value and appreciate individual differences.

For child care providers, inclusive practice provides opportunities for:

  • Developing an understanding of individual needs
  • Learning to value and appreciate individual differences
  • Growing in experience, skills and confidence
  • Discovering community resources
  • Demonstrating equal opportunities and rights for all
  • Building partnerships through collaboration
  • Strengthening the professional reputation of child care professionals
Inclusion and the Law

Inclusion is required by law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that child care providers not discriminate against persons with disabilities on the basis of disability and that children and parents with disabilities are provided an equal opportunity to participate in the child care center's programs and services. Centers have to make reasonable modifications to their policies and practices to integrate children, parents, and guardians with disabilities into their programs.

How to Support Inclusion

To best support inclusion, all child care providers are encouraged to:

  • Attend training or classes in special needs or inclusion (See the IdahoSTARS training calendar for opportunities)
  • Connect families to resources and outside agencies as necessary (See our list of websites)
  • Conduct Inclusion Evaluation and Planning
  • Track children's development
  • Participate in the Inclusion Standard of the Quality Rating and Improvement System

Inclusion Self-Reflection

The Inclusion Self-Reflection is designed to be completed by classroom teachers to best reflect current inclusive practices in the classroom as well as goals for improvement.

The Inclusion Self-Reflection is designed to help you identify current practices and plan for future improvements. These plans will help you create or revise your own policies, procedures and systems which will benefit children and families in your care.

To begin, check out the Guidelines and Registration for the Inclusion Self-Reflection.

Inclusion Planning Tools:
  • Program Developmental Screenings and Inclusion Plan: A worksheet for planning and evaluating developmental screenings
  • Action Plan: A general template for helping you plan and implement changes in practice
  • Observing and Documenting Young Children: Tracking children’s development will help you to see a child’s strengths, challenges and interests. Tracking development can be accomplished by carefully observing and documenting a child’s developmental progress. Having this knowledge will help adults create a rich learning environment that meets the needs of all children. Additionally, when adults have a stronger idea of a child’s developmental progress, they can more effectively make referrals to other agencies (such as Child Find, counseling, nutritionist, etc.) when appropriate.

IdahoSTARS mentors are available to help with implementing inclusion plans. For more information on working with a mentor, call the 2-1-1 Idaho CareLine by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-800-926-2588 and ask to speak to the director of the mentor/coaching program.

Inclusion Standard of the Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

Inclusion is one of the eight Quality Standards in the IdahoSTARS Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). The QRIS is a voluntary quality rating and improvement system for child care facilities in Idaho. The quality of the facility is rated through a system of five stars, similar to ratings for hotels, movies, and restaurants. The QRIS includes a built-in system for improvement in each of the eight Quality Standards. In this way, the QRIS credits facilities for the quality practices already in place while providing a roadmap to increased quality.

The QRIS Inclusion Standard measures:

  • Tracking of children’s development
  • IdahoSTARS training in Component #9 (Special Needs) taken by the director/owner
  • If programs connect families to resources and outside agencies as necessary