What is Include Me Pre-School?
Opportunities for increasing the capacity of inclusive practices in preschools exist throughout the state. Include Me Pre-School is an answer to these opportunities. Currently, Include Me Pre-School consultants work with select Pennsylvania School Districts and Intermediate Units to: provide support for early care and education programs; promote inclusive practices; and increase capacity within participating programs. The students, their families and the program staff all benefit from this support. Include Me Pre-School is funded through grants from the PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), the PA Bureau of Early Intervention Services (BEIS), and others.
What’s new with Include Me Pre-School (2016-2017)?
The Include Me Pre-School program entered its 5th year in July 2016, with an enhanced work plan and prospects for additional growth. In fiscal year 2016-2017, Include Me Pre-School is partnering with the Early Intervention Technical Assistance system (EITA) and Area Intermediate Units(IU) supporting inclusive practices through targeted technical assistance, family engagement, intervention, and training opportunities to identified programs in the Hazelton Area School District and Intermediate Units 4, 9, 12, 14, 15, 19, 24, 25.
Include Me Pre-School is in the second year of a Community Innovation Zone grant (CIZ) focused on addressing the needs of children, who will receive special education services and their families, transition smoothly into and through the school system inclusively. The team welcomes new partners the Warrior Run Area School District, the Central Susquehanna IU 16 Head Start & PA Pre K Counts, and the Local Interagency Coordinating Council (LICC) serving Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union Counties. Together with their new and existing partners from the Early Care Coalition (ECC) and Early Intervention of Bradford, Sullivan, and Tioga counties, the Include Me CIZ team provides targeted technical assistance and professional development, and innovative family engagement.
Include Me continues to grow and reach new stakeholder through innovative projects and initiatives. In fall 2015 the team began partnering with PA Promise for Children, an OCDEL initiative, by providing adaptations and modifications for the monthly publication series of Learning is Everywhere, Kindergarten Here I Come, and Kindergarten Here I Am. In 2016-2017 the team will also be providing informational essays and tip sheets. These web-based resources are accessible via http://papromiseforchildren.com/ by joining their email list serve.
Include Me Pre-School is also piloting a project with the Head Start in Scranton through a grant from the Weinberg Foundation. This project focuses on professional development and family engagement. The goals are designed to facilitate the family transition from their early care and education setting into their formal public school education.
What is the Inclusion Grant?
The purpose of the Inclusion Grant is to assist Preschool Early Intervention Programs in certain Intermediate Units to improve the number of children (Preschool Early Intervention participants) served in typical preschool settings (meaning settings where the child would have been had he/she not had a disability or special need).
The grant has allowed your local Early Intervention program to build capacity in community preschools to better serve children with special needs by way of:
- Providing training technical assistance to preschool and/or childcare staff on how to support students with special needs.
- Participating in more intensive training for Early Intervention staff in the areas of Positive Behavior Support and Intervention (PBIS), Coaching and Collaboration, Family Engagement, Inclusive Practices, and Assistive Technology.
- Providing additional training and support to families of children with special needs to help support their children at home and in preschool settings.
- Improving policies within the Early Intervention Program to better support inclusion and better support families. This can be accomplished by getting input from parents and family members.
How will this grant benefit my child?
The grant will allow your child’s Early Intervention program to better serve children with special needs in typical preschool settings and also help you, the parent, and preschool staff to help your child reach his/her IEP goals. In addition, you as a parent can ask for extra help from the grant team if you need assistance with inclusion related to your child’s preschool experience.
Who participates in the grant team and what are their roles?
External Coach– An employee of an outside preschool program (perhaps at Head Start program).
Internal Coach– An employee of the Preschool Early Intervention program. Perhaps one of the teachers or therapists from Early Intervention.
Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA) Consultant– A consultant from the commonwealth who specializes in Early Intervention.
Early Intervention Program Supervisor– This is the supervisor for the Preschool Early Intervention program. This person’s role is to oversee the grant.
Behavior Consultant– A consultant (also from the commonwealth) who specializes in behavior and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS).
Include Me Consultant– An educational consultant who is an employee of The Arc of Pennsylvania (specializing in inclusion).
How can I help as a Parent Partner?
As a parent, you can be perhaps the most critical member of the team. You can provide valuable insights for your child’s preschool program and Early Intervention team to create better working partnerships with your family as well as other families. Overall, your observations and feedback can help your child’s preschool and Early Intervention programs to better help your child thrive and learn best.