Expanding Opportunities
an Interagency Inclusion Initiative

Expanding Opportunities

Photograph: Two preschool-aged female students play together on a grassy field. (Photograph by Alex Lazara)

An Interagency Inclusion Initiative

Four federal agencies - the Office of Child Care, the Office of Head Start, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) - have been collaboratively sponsoring Expanding Opportunities since 2005. Each year cross-agency teams from three or four states participate to develop and implement plans with the goal of increasing inclusive opportunities for young children with disabilities to quality early care and education programs and services in their communities, and to make their findings and resources available to other states. The federal partners support the state Expanding Opportunities teams through their technical assistance projects. A brief overview of the Initiative is available: PDF: Expanding Opportunities: An Interagency Inclusion Initiative (2010).

Expanding Opportunities Interagency Inclusion Initiative: Networking Call with TA Providers (March 13, 2012) provides a brief summary of how the most recent group of Expanding Opportunities states are doing. It is from the perspective of technical assistance (TA) providers and has been vetted by the states.

PDF: Evaluation Summary of the Expanding Opportunities Interagency Inclusion Initiative: Increasing and Enhancing Access, Participation and Supports for All Children in High Quality Inclusive Programs and Services (2011) describes achievements to date in identifying and implementing effective and efficient inclusion strategies in the participating states.

The Interagency Inclusion Imperative

Research has shown that both young children with disabilities and their peers benefit from participating together in programs and community activities. While there has been much progress to assure that children have these opportunities, challenges still exist. Given the complexity of federal, state and local programs and services that touch the lives of children with disabilities, cross-agency planning is an effective mechanism for identifying strategies to address these challenges

Background

Two federal policy forums were held in Washington, DC in 2004 to focus on strategies for including young children with disabilities in community-based settings and activities. These forums included parents, service providers, researchers, federal, state and local administrators, and technical assistance providers. Recommendations from the forums included the creation of a comprehensive, cross-systems approach to inclusion and the bringing together of national-level stakeholders to create and implement a shared vision. Two proceedings documents are available. PDF: High Quality Inclusion Opportunities for Preschool-Age Children with Disabilities (2004) and PDF: Inclusive Early Care and Education Forum Synthesis (2005).

For more information about Expanding Opportunities, contact:

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center
CB 8040
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040

phone: 919.962.2001
fax: 919.966.7463
email: ectacenter@unc.edu
The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P120002 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.
FPG Child Development Institute
OSEP's TA&D Network