Participation in General EC Programs

According to the Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs, released jointly by the US Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) on September 14, 2015, all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations.

The ED/HHS policy statement sets an expectation for high-quality inclusion in early childhood programs; highlights the legal and research base for inclusion; identifies challenges to adopting inclusive practices; provides recommendations for increasing inclusive early learning opportunities, and links to free resources. 

Being meaningfully included as a member of society is the first step to equal opportunity and is every person’s right – a right supported by our laws. Research indicates that early childhood inclusion is beneficial to children with and without disabilities. In addition, meaningful inclusion can support children with disabilities in reaching their full potential resulting in broad societal benefits, including higher productivity in adulthood and fewer resources spent on interventions and public assistance later in life.

It is well documented that the beginning years of children’s lives are critical for building the early foundations of learning and wellness needed for success in school and later in life. During these years, children’s brains develop rapidly, influenced by the experiences they share with their families, teachers, peers, and communities. Like all children, it is critical for children with disabilities to engage in positive relationships and be exposed to a variety of rich experiences where they learn aside their peers in the context of play and everyday interactions. In partnership with families, high-quality early childhood programs can facilitate the experiences that foster learning for all children.

If young children with disabilities are to enter kindergarten with the early readiness skills that serve as the foundation for all learning, they must not only have access to high-quality early childhood programs but receive the necessary supports embedded into their daily classroom activities. To learn more about Rhode Island’s Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education (RI IECSE) Service Delivery Model see below.

Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education (IECSE) is a research based service delivery model for providing special education services to young children with disabilities within general early childhood environments. It serves as an alternative to the provision of services within separate settings, classes or schools. The IECSE model allows young children with disabilities to actively participate in all classroom based activities by embedding the necessary supports, services, and interventions.

New Back to School RI: Guidance for Implementing the Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education (RI-IECSE) Service-Delivery Model

Back to School RI: Guidance for Implementing the Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education (RI-IECSE) Service-Delivery Model support districts in planning for a variety of scenarios, as well as the shift between settings as state, local, and private early childhood policies change due to the COVID crisis.

In alignment with U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services and the U.S. Department of Education’s Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs, RIDE offers a comprehensive system of supports ensuring that early childhood professionals have the skills and knowledge necessary to support children with disabilities in general early childhood settings.

New RI-IECSE Anchors of Practice

New RI-IECSE Fidelity Checklist

New RI-IECSE Planning Matrix

New IECSE Family Brochure - English

New IECSE Family Brochure - Spanish

In addition to the opportunity for technical assistance, RIDE provides professional development for early childhood special educators and their general early childhood partners. For information on upcoming professional development opportunities and registration through eride, please click on one of the links below.

Districts and early childhood partners who have previously or are currently participating in the professional development or technical assistance are welcome to join the monthly IECSE Community of Practice Meetings provided at The Center for Early Learning Professionals in Warwick, RI.

2020-2021 IECSE Community of Practice Schedule

New 2021-2022 RI IECSE Community of Practice Schedule

For more information on Early Childhood Special Education, contact your district level Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Coordinator or select from the following sections: