"Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society. The desired results of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential. The defining features of inclusion that can be used to identify high quality early childhood programs and services are access, participation, and supports."- from the Joint Position Statement of DEC and NAEYC, 2009
IDEA (2004) and Kansas' regulations guarantee preschool age children who are eligible for special education services, and their families, the right for each child to be educated in their least restrictive environment (LRE). The LRE for a child with a disability is individually determined based on the child's abilities and needs as described in the child's IEP. IDEA requires that children with disabilities, to the maximum extent appropriate, must be educated with children who are not disabled. In fact, section 612(a)(5) states that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment may occur only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. To accomplish this goal, a full continuum of placements must be available for preschool children with disabilities.
Early childhood special education (ECSE) services can take many forms and may be influenced by many factors. While local education agencies (LEAs) have a legal requirement to ensure that each child's placement decision is made in conformity with the LRE provisions, there is also an abundance of educational research supporting the provision of special education services to young children in inclusive settings. Effective inclusion requires planning and coordination to ensure children not only have access to a variety of learning activities and settings, but also have supports to ensure individual needs are met and children are able to participate in programs as fully as possible (DEC/NAEYC , 2009). This web page has been designed as a resource for Kansas' administrators, practitioners, and families of young children receiving preschool special education services. It is intended to support and promote programs in serving all children in their least restrictive environment.
State education agencies annually collect and report progress on the State Performance Plan (SPP) to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The SPP is made up of indicators, including an indicator that measures LRE for K-12 (Indicator 5) and one that measures EC-LRE for 3-5 year-olds (Indicator 6). The EC-LRE indicator measures the percent of preschool children with IEPs who received special education and related services in settings with typically developing peers (e.g., early childhood settings, home, and part-time early childhood/part-time early childhood special education settings). The measurement table for Indicator 6 was revised by OSEP and calculated by states for the first time using 2010 data. States gathered baseline data in 2011 and set targets for the indicator in 2012. EC-LRE data on Indicator 6 will be included on district public reports beginning in 2013. This web page includes information and resources to support districts in understanding and, if necessary, improving their EC-LRE data as reported on Indicator 6.