From the ACF Blog: Renewing our commitment to inclusive early childhood programs and practices
The following blog was written by Katie Hamm, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development, Office of Early Childhood Development. It originally appeared on the Administration for Children and Families' Family Room Blog on July 13, 2021.
July is Disability Pride Month. As we celebrate the 31st anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we reaffirm our commitment to supporting high-quality inclusive early childhood programs and practices for children with disabilities and their families. ACF promotes the economic and social well-being of children and families by supporting efforts designed to benefit children with disabilities in early childhood settings by promoting their development, supporting their relationships with peers, and preparing them for school.
Head Start and Early Head Start programs play a key role in the approach to early childhood disability services, including screening and in connecting families to early intervention and special education services and family support. The coordinated approach to disability services within all Head Start programs provides access to a wide range of services that support children with disabilities and their families so they are able to fully participate in these programs. This coordination focuses on making accommodations to the environment and utilizing appropriate materials, instruction, staff, and partnerships — ensuring consistency with both the ADA, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Head Start builds environments that are inclusive of children with disabilities to ensure meaningful participation and provide them and their families with comprehensive and consistent supports, which are vital in supporting their development in early childhood and beyond.