Mother holding child at Educare Seattle

Building Inclusive State Child Care Systems

Investments in quality early childhood education services can be one of the most cost-effective strategies for schools.

New laws and guidance from the federal government and national advocacy and membership organizations provide an exciting opportunity to address the critical issue of achieving full inclusion of young children with disabilities in early care and education programs, including child care. This resource is intended to support child care administrators, IDEA Part C and Part B 619 Coordinators, early childhood advocates, and other relevant stakeholders with an overview of the requirements for inclusion in child care programs and ideas for taking action to further full inclusion in child care.

Key Findings

Several provisions and statements, taken together, represent unprecedented opportunities to create policies and practices that advance access, participation, and supports for children, families and providers:

  • The Division for Early Childhood and the National Association for the Education of Young Children joint statement on inclusion (2009)
  • The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, which made significant changes to the Child Care Development Fund program
  • The joint policy statement from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services entitled Young Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs (2015)

Creating high quality inclusive child care settings requires intentional collaboration, alignment of policies and practices, a holistic approach, and the implementation of multiple strategies. States can maximize opportunities in the new requirements to promote good inclusion by:

  • Leveraging existing infrastructure
  • Providing grants and contracts to support providers and individualized supports
  • Establishing differential payments or tiered reimbursements for individual children
  • Providing training and support to child care providers
  • Collecting and report data on children with disabilities served in child care
  • Ensuring children receive developmental screening and referrals

Policy Team & Collaborators

Take Action

  • Learn more: Begin by increasing your familiarity with issues related to inclusion and child care. The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services’ joint policy statement on inclusion in early childhood programs contains resources available to deepen your understanding of the available supports for children with disabilities, inclusive early care and education environments, child care subsidy systems, and more.
  • Take stock: Evaluate the current status of inclusion in your state’s early childhood system and the resources available to you. The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center recently published a guide that can assist with a state system scan.
  • Build or strengthen relationships: Working with colleagues across systems can be very challenging. Establishing and maintaining positive and productive working relationships requires time, consistent engagement, and careful balancing of competing priorities and divergent perspectives. As you start or continue conversations with your partners about how to work together to incorporate the policy strategies discussed in this resource in your state, anticipate disagreement but remember to always look for common ground. Recognize that you will need to dedicate time and energy to building trust and learning about unfamiliar systems in order to be successful.
  • Employ your knowledge of statute and policy and relationship-building to use CCDF to improve high-quality inclusive child care and early education opportunities for children ages birth to five with or at risk for delays and disabilities.