By the fall of 1992, the ground work for inclusive program models
within several communities had been laid. Community early childhood program
personnel, early childhood special education school district staff, families,
and university personnel within these communities worked collaboratively
to develop and submit state grants to support efforts to formally restructure
part of the early childhood service delivery systems. Three collaborative
University of Kansas and local school district projects were funded in Fall,
1992, as three year innovative projects through Title VI-B Special Projects, Kansas State Board of Education. All three projects
implemented programs of inclusive early childhood special education services.
Each project involved the restructuring of the roles of school district
or special education cooperative ECSE teachers and, to a considerable
extent, related service staff. The three projects also involved a restructuring
of the service delivery system for children three through five within
each project area. Each project was grounded on the belief that the approach
to early childhood special education must meet standards of best practice
as well as reflect the unique characteristics of the community.
Each project shared a commitment to the following recommended practices
for early childhood inclusive services:
- A shared value base amongst professionals and parents.
- Participation by community early childhood programs.
- Educational program linked with child care services.
- Program options or approaches to placement.
- Supported placement via a paraprofessional as appropriate.
- The concept of natural proportions guiding placements.
- Teaming based on functional tasks.
- Joint Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education program
staff inservice education.
- A family guided approach.
- Collaborative transition planning and implementation.
- Systematic program expansion.
- Stated program outcomes.
Brief Description of Each Project
The Project LIM (Lawrence Inclusion Model), implemented
in Lawrence, Kansas, offered inclusive services in community preschools
and involved children with a full range of delays and disabilities (i.e.
mild to severe/profound). Five preschools held openings specifically
for children with disabilities. Two of these programs employed an early
childhood special education teacher and related services personnel (such
as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language, social
work, psychology). Support services were delivered on site by itinerant
related service providers. In addition to the five programs that held
placements, early childhood special education services were also provided
to those children who were identified as eligible for services and already
enrolled in a community program.
Project WIN (Wyandotte Cooperative Inclusion Network)
implemented in Kansas City, Kansas, was designed to support the
inclusion of children with severe and profound multiple disabilities
and children with autism as members of inclusive community preschools
and child care programs. Participating programs include: (a) community
service centers, established via interagency cooperative to meet the
needs of families living in urban settings, (b) Head Start programs,
(c) district supported four-year-old programs based in elementary schools,
and (d) private community programs.
PITT (Project Integration, Training, and Transition)
was designed to meet the need of a rural area for the provision of early
childhood special education services within the least restrictive environment
(LRE) through the development of family-guided, community-based, early
childhood service options. Three special education cooperatives serving
school districts participated. Service delivery settings included child
care centers, Head Start, community preschools, and family child care
homes. A special emphasis was placed on the implementation of family-guided
transition from infant-toddler to preschool services and personnel training
information sharing, and resource development.