Inclusion Information

What is inclusive child care?

An inclusive program looks much like any other child care program. Inclusive programs welcome children with and without disabilities. In them, all students participate in the same play experiences and instructional routines, creating a natural learning environment. Child care providers that work in inclusive settings make modifications to routines and activities based on each child's special strengths and needs.

What does inclusive child care look like in Tulare County?

Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development The county has a growing population of nearly 400,000. Tulare County's public schools accommodate over 100,000 students in grade K through 12, including 7,500 students receiving services for disabilities. Of this number, approximately 1,200 are between the ages of 0 and 5. Only one-third of these young children are currently enrolled in child care settings.

In Tulare County, there are 681 licensed child care homes and 157 licensed child care centers. Approximately half of all care is received in licensed homes and half in centers. Of the nearly 840 licensed facilities in the county, a mere 340 providers have experience caring for children with special needs.

How do children benefit from inclusive child care?

Children who participate in natural learning environments have tremendous opportunities to grow and develop. Children become aware of the differences as well as the similarities between themselves and their peers. Together, they realize that everyone, regardless of ability or disability, can make important contributions.

Not only do children with and without disabilities benefit from inclusive care, but child care providers and families benefit as well.

Conclusion

Adjusting to a child with a disability is a process, not an event. Parents often go through shock, anxiety, guilt, depression, grief and anger before finding hope and meaning. The goal of the Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development is to provide opportunities for children with disabilities to attend child care and development programs with their typically-developing peers. Inclusion is not difficult to do, but it requires the support of everyone. Just as there is a great need for more child care in Tulare County, there is a similar need to accommodate more children with special needs.

Through collaboration, the Council on Child & Youth Development will encourage providers to learn more about accommodating students with special needs and encourage parents to include their children in programs for the many social and educational development experiences they offer.