Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the ADA and afterschool and daycare programs for children with disabilities conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen only mode. Later we will conduct a question/answer session and instructions will follow at that time. If anyone should require assistance during the conference, please press star then zero on your touchtone telephone. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to introduce your host for today''s conference, Miss Pamela Williams. You may begin.
Thank you. Well, good morning and good afternoon to everyone, and welcome to the ADA audio conference series. My name is Pam Williamson, and I will be serving as a moderator for the session. This program is brought to you by the ADA National Network. The ADA audio conference series is offered monthly and covers a variety of topics related to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Today''s session is titled, "The ADA and Afterschool and Daycare Programs for Children with Disabilities." We are privileged to be joined by our presenter, Dr. Ruth Wolery, Director of the Susan Gray School and Assistant Professor of the Practice of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Individuals are joining us today, using a variety of formats, including telephone, streaming audio on the internet, and real time captioning. A written transcript of the session will be created, edited, and posted to the www.ada-audio.org website, along with the digital recording of the session within ten business days following the conclusion of the program. Dr. Wolery will provide us with some valuable information today, and at the conclusion of her presentation, there will be an opportunity for everyone to ask questions. The operator will provide instructions when we are ready to take questions. Depending upon the number of questions, we may not be able to address all of your issues or concerns today; however, we encourage you to follow up with any questions that you may have by calling your regional ADA center at 1-800-949-4232. Let me begin today''s session by introducing Dr. Wolery. Dr. Ruth Wolery is an Assistant Professor of the Practice of Special Education at Vanderbilt University, and the Director of the Susan Gray School for Children, which has served physically developing children, as well as children with developmental delays or intellectual and physical disabilities for more than 40 years. Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt University in September 2000, Dr. Wolery was an investigator on the Early Childhood Research Institute on Inclusion at the Frank Porter Graham Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She also worked as a researcher at the Allegheny Singer Research Institute in Pittsburgh until early elementary and primary level special education in Lexington, Kentucky. She is the author of several publications on creating and implementing inclusive preschool programs. Dr. Wolery''s full biography may be accessed online at the ADA, www.ada-audio.org. Dr. Wolery, thank you for joining us today, and I will now turn the program over to you. Dr. Ruth Wolery: Thank you, Pam, and audience, welcome. I''m very privileged to be able to present the information to you today about ADA and childcare. The objective for today''s presentation, as you see on your slides, is just some basic knowledge of ADA, which I imagine most of you already have, but then some specifics about what exactly childcare centers need to do and childcare providers need to do that relates to ADA. And then I want to move and talk about inclusion, what is inclusion, and I view that as the obvious alternative. And then we''ll talk some about ADA and IDEA, which is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. And at that time, we''ll stop, and if you have questions, we''ll entertain those. Then we''ll go into some case studies and just, actually, some real life situations that you might encounter related to ADA and childcare, and discuss those, and then we''ll end up again with the final question and answer session. So on slide three it starts, "Does ADA apply to childcare centers?" And most certainly it does apply to childcare centers. Privately run centers, just like other public accommodations, and recreation centers, restaurants, hotels, movies, theaters, banks, all of those must comply with ADA. Childcare services provided by government agencies, like Head Start and summer programs, extended programs, also must comply with ADA, and the only ones that really don''t have to comply with ADA are religious organizations. And we need to be careful to realize that that''s--religious organizations that are actually run by the organization, not one that is just housed in a church or a synagogue program. Almost all childcare providers, regardless of the size or number of employees, have to apply by ADA, even small ones. Even if you have a home-based center, you need to comply with ADA. Moving on to slide four, which is assumptions, and I want to point out some assumptions here that really undergird my philosophy about serving children, and I think you''ll agree with me on these assumptions. First, I believe children with disabilities are children. That means they''re children first. The disability is a characteristic of the child. Next, I believe that parents of children with disabilities are parents. They''re parents first. The fact that they have a child with a disability doesn''t overpower the fact that they are a parent. And last, I believe--and actually, this is more of just a straight fact, not necessarily a belief, but parents of children with disabilities need childcare, just like parents of children who do not have disabilities. These are simple and basic assumptions, but you can understand how problems with ADA and childcare arise when everyone involved doesn''t share a philosophy that''s built on these assumptions. Moving on next to slide five, specifics, what exactly must childcare providers do? The ADA requires that childcare providers not discriminate against persons with disabilities on the basis of their disability, and that means children with disabilities, who, as I said earlier, are still children, and children first, but those children should have the same or equal opportunity to participate in the childcare program and services. A childcare center should not have policies--enrollment policies and practices that discriminate, based on disability, and we''ll talk more about that throughout the presentation. But while ADA does require that childcare centers have a non-discrimination enrollment policy, and non-discrimination practices, it does acknowledge that there are occasional exceptions. So if a situation arises in which a child with a disability might pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or require a fundamental alteration of the program, the situation might be in a situation where they--excuse me the center might be in a situation where they could deny enrollment. And we will talk more about that, too. But aside from those occasional exceptions, centers have to make what ADA calls reasonable modifications, and you''ll notice that I''ve underlined and highlighted a lot of these terms in the--on the slide, because this is language that comes out of ADA. But ADA wants reasonable modifications to their policies and practices in order to integrate children with disabilities, and their parents or their guardians. Again, ADA acknowledges those occasional exceptions, which would be situations where enrolling a child with a disability might create a fundamental alteration to the program; and these situations are uncommon, but ADA does allow for programs to consider them, and we''ll talk about that, too. Another accommodation childcare providers need to make are for auxiliary aids and services for effective communication. This is talking about communication with both the children and with the adults that are responsible for those children, or with adults--other adults with disabilities. It relates to the auxiliary aids such as Braille for a child, parent, or guardian who''s visually impaired, or an amplified audio system for a child, parent, or guardian who''s hearing impaired. The bottom line on these specifics, though, is that childcare centers must generally make their facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. Existing facilities are subject to what''s known as the readily achievable standard for barrier removal, while newly constructed facilities and any altered portions of existing facilities must be made fully accessible. So moving on now to slide six, enrollment practices that don''t discriminate so this is one of the things that ADA requires, but notice here, it doesn''t say that the childcare providers must enroll children with disabilities. It said we must not discriminate. And that really means that enrollment decisions for children with disabilities can and should be made on a case-by-case situation. Childcare centers just can''t assume that a child''s disability is too severe for them to be integrated successfully into the program. The center needs to make an individual assessment and determine whether the child''s particular needs can be met without fundamentally altering the program, and that''s the case-by-case. You know, if you get a call--if you''re a parent, and you call a childcare center, and you start describing your child, the childcare center just can''t say, "I''m sorry, we don''t take children with disabilities." And if you''re a childcare center and you receive that call, same thing, you can''t say, "I''m sorry, we don''t take children with disabilities." You can''t, in fact, say, "But I''m happy to recommend the center down the street, because they do a great job." You just can''t do that. You have to say it''s a case-by-case and invite the parents to come in and work on it; and, of course, we''re going to talk about that, but moving on now. Let''s see, we''re on slide number seven, case-by-case basis. What does that really mean? Well, it''s an ADA provision for families and childcare providers to meet together and assess the situation, finding out what the child and family''s needs, and what are the provider''s needs, and how are we going to meet those needs? In making that assessment, the caregiver needs to avoid those unfounded preconceptions and stereotypes about what children with disabilities can or cannot do or how much assistance they may require. Instead, the caregiver should talk to the parents or the guardians, and maybe even talk to other professionals who might be working with the child, such as a teacher, or a healthcare provider that''s involved with them, and find out, essentially, what is needed to ensure that you can meet the child''s needs. A few questions that guide the case-by-case assessment are, will the child present a direct threat to the health and safety of others? And if the answer is yes, then first of all, you have to say what accommodations or modifications might eliminate that direct threat, because it''s possible that you could make some accommodations or modifications and the threat no longer be a threat. If the answer, of course, is no, the child doesn''t prevent a direct threat to the health or safety of others, then there''s no reason to deny the enrollment. Another question to ask would be will the accommodations that might be needed require a fundamental alteration to or create an undue burden on the program; and if either of those questions are answered with a no, then, again, there''s no reason to deny enrollment. Most of the time, enrollment can be--it is possible. So let''s move on now to slide eight, denying enrollment. It''s an unlikely situation. After an individualized assessment has been done, and the questions have been answered, it''s unlikely that you would find out that there is a child who is going to cause a direct threat to the health and safety of someone in the program, or that in order to fix the situation would require a fundamental alteration to the nature of the program or an undue burden placed on the childcare program. If that is the case, and you have made a good faith effort to determine what you might do, then it is possible to deny enrollment. But as I say, that''s an unlikely situation. And if it were to happen, as a childcare provider, you would need to document your good faith efforts. You would not want to leave your program vulnerable to a family coming in and later bringing--challenging or lawsuit that said you did deny, based on not having done a good faith individualized assessment to determine whether or not you could meet the children''s needs. So it really is unlikely that--there are few situations few and far between when a child''s care would be denied. Okay, now I want to move on to IDEA, or the Individuals with Disability Education Act. That''s the Federal Legislation for Special Education. And I really think that IDEA and ADA, as it relates to what we''re talking about, there are many things that have been--go hand in hand to helping each other. So we''re now to slide ten. What is IDEA? Well, it''s the Individuals with Disability Education Act. It''s a federal law. It began back in the mid-1970s as public law 94142, and what it did was provide ensured services for children with disabilities throughout the nation. It''s gone through several reauthorizations, and it is now known as the IDEA--the most recent reauthorization, even adding another letter in there, IDEIA, but--the I being Improvement Act, but most people do still refer to it as IDEA. But it governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than six and a half million. That''s six and a half million, and that is an old number. Actually, that''s 2002, but that''s the number back in about 2002 of eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. So we''ve got a large number of children being served through the special education system, which is defined by IDEA. You notice that IDEA on slides--let''s see, that is slide number ten. You can see that it provides services for children starting at birth. An important element, as it relates to childcare, is that children birth to three, as they are served through the IDEA, for children with disabilities birth to three, are generally served through a state agency. Most of the time, it''s going to be either in your state''s Department of Human Services, or your Department of Child and Maternal Health, or the State Department of Education. It varies, but those are generally the state agencies where the services for children birth to three are provided. Once children turn three, the special education services are provided through the local school system, or what is often referred to as the LEA, the Local Education Association. Local school systems, as you know, aren''t in the business of educating children under age, even four or five, but they are required to provide the special education for children starting at age three, and then the state agency that is responsible for children''s special education under three is responsible for that area. There''s language in IDEA that really relates to ADA, and I think we find that in the--for children under three, the language is called natural environment, and the IDEA is pushing and wants children to be served in what is determined natural environments. For children over three, the language is least restrictive environment, or LRE, and both of these are terms and provisions of IDEA that it''s important for families to understand, because there are procedural safeguards and family protection around these that would help a family as they are seeking inclusive services. A little bit more about ADA and IDEA, early intervention--so that''s the Part C, Part C being that it''s the part of the entire legislation that relates only to the children birth to three, which is also called early intervention. But that--and I''m just going to read this slide. "It requires states to provide service coordination and individualized family service plans, or IFSPs, for infants and toddlers with disability and delay." If you''re familiar with the regular special education system in the schools, you''re familiar with IEPs. The difference for the early intervention is instead of an individualized education plan, with young children in the early intervention, it''s an individualized family service plan. So the focus is on the families and the service more so than on the child''s education. With the IDEA, Part C, then you--the second bullet on this slide number 11, "States are required to provide services on an IFSP at no cost to families, unless federal or state law provides for a sliding scale. So the services that are provided through Part C and services that are on a child''s IFSP are provided free of charge to families unless state has set up a system. So it would vary, and you can check that through your own state system. Usually, it''s not much, but sometimes there is a sliding scale, or sometimes it will tap into family''s insurance, and the state system is considered payer of last resort. Early intervention services might be delivered by an itinerant therapist who comes into a childcare setting, but that''s not required. So you can see that the services that are provided here, as part of early intervention, often are only therapeutic services. Sometimes you will have some itinerant services that relate to the education of a child, usually called specialized services, or developmental therapy sometimes might be the way that it is named to be a special-ed type of service, But it would not come into a childcare center, except on an itinerant basis. What this pretty much means is that you''re not likely to find any financial support for childcare through IDEA in the early intervention, but you might be able to find support, which could be viewed by a provider as a benefit, if you''ve got a therapist or a teacher coming in to provide assistance. Then when you look at ADA and IDEA, as it relates to school age, and that''s the special education part that we''re more familiar with, but that''s also called the Part B of IDEA, there''s two things that families need to think about when they''re thinking about preschool special education that are real important and relate to IDEA, and one of them is free appropriate public education, a provision of IDEA, which in special-ed jargon we call FAPE, but that''s the free appropriate public education. That''s for individuals with disabilities three years of age all the way up to 21 years of age. Families don''t pay for FAPE, but you have to realize that childcare is not FAPE. Now, in the Rehabilitation Act of Section 504, it protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive funds. 504 is not really special education, but it provides that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall solely, by reason of the disability, be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Well, our school systems receive federal financial assistance. So when you combine FAPE, and you combine the Section 504, it really does make for a nice argument that can help families looking for free appropriate public education for their preschool children. So I want to move on now to slide 13, ADA and IDEA, least restrictive environment. In special-ed jargon, we call this LRE, least restrictive environment. And I think this is a wonderful provision that just really, really helps families as they are trying to access inclusive services for their child. LRE means that children with disabilities must be educated with their typically developing peers. Now, I want you to keep your mind wrapped around the word "educated," because we''re not talking about childcare. We''re talking about early childhood education, or early childhood special education. But for a young child with a disability, LRE, least restrictive environment, means that the child with the disability must be educated with their typically developing peers. Now, school systems across the country vary, but LRE is still the legal support for families to get access to the general education environment. Now, the language for LRE, which I don''t have it specifically in the slide, but let me read it to you. It''s strong. It clearly lays out the path for inclusion, even though the word inclusion, or mainstreaming, which is an older word, but pretty much means the same thing, but the language is clear. It says, this is quoting from IDEA, "To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities should be educated in regular classrooms with their non-disabled peers with appropriate supplementary aids and services." If you want access to the general education system, this is the argument that you have as a family, by taking the law in your hands and explaining to the school system that that is what you want. Okay, ADA and IDEA, a little bit more about that on slide 14, and this is just kind of to sum it up. "Inclusive childcare environments meet IDEA, natural, and LRE requirements." So where IDEA calls for natural environments with children under three, and least restrictive environment for children over three, inclusive programs meet those IDEA requirements. Children protected under IDEA are also protected under ADA, and the reverse of that is true. Children protected under ADA are also protected under IDEA. So now I want to move to--just to talk about inclusive childcare, and before I move into the slides, I''ll give you a little bit more information about me. Here at Vanderbilt, we have a--what we call the lab school, or it''s named the Susan Gray school, and it''s been going for about 40 years. It''s gone through different cycles, but we are a fully inclusive childcare program. Sometimes I hate us to be called childcare, because that brings up visions of just, you know, any old childcare where it''s just babysitting. We''re very much not that. We pride ourselves in being a high quality early education program. But we have eight classrooms in our center-based program, starting--children starting off when they''re about a year old. They have to be 12 months of age by the first of October, which is the public school cut off here. We have two classrooms at each level. So our level one, it would be just like first grade. We have level two, level three, level four. Level one are children who make that October 1st cutoff to be one year old. In all of the classrooms, there''s at least 30% of the children have disabilities, diagnosed disabilities, and in our younger classrooms, 50% of the children have diagnosed disabilities. They have an IFSP through the early intervention system, or they have an IEP through the public school system. So we have contracts with the state for the early intervention and a contract with our local school system for the children that have IEPs, the three to five-year-old children. We have itinerant teachers who come in from the school system and give individualized special-ed. Our teachers provide the specialized instruction for the children with disabilities who are under three. It''s a wonderful environment. If you''re ever in Nashville, I would love to have you come visit. We have tours all the time, and we really love to show the school off. And what we''ve learned there is that it really can work. So moving on slide number 17, what is inclusive childcare? It''s childcare that allows all children to learn together in an educational atmosphere. It''s childcare that supports and nurtures the individual strength of every child. It encourages each child to participate in the daily routines and activities of the class, and it accepts differences, cognitive differences, physical differences, behavioral differences, whatever differences are accepted; and, really, the differences are valued. All right, slide 18, but why inclusion? Well, I mean, most of you know this, but every child deserves the opportunity to interact with other people, regardless of their ability or disability. Children learn many of their skills from other children, from social behaviors, to physical and cognitive actions. By including children with disabilities in physical classrooms, active engagement between students is encouraged, allowing for optimal opportunities for children to form their own relationships and accept one another''s differences at an early age. There''s the legal requirement for why inclusion, and that relates to IDEA. It requires that children with disabilities be placed in classrooms with their physically developing peers. Then there''s the moral--or the moral reason for doing it, and I think we can all relate, and most of us probably believe this, that children with disabilities have the right to participate in the same programs available to other children. That goes back to the philosophical underpinnings that I mentioned at the very beginning. And then, why inclusion, there''s an empirical reason. There is strong research to support inclusion, especially at the preschool level. The studies that have been done have found that there''s many benefits for children with disabilities, particularly, social benefits, and that there is no detriment to the children without disabilities. There''s benefit to them, too. And so I want to talk a little bit about those benefits. Benefits for the children with disabilities, obviously, there''s the socialization, and the socialization benefit is the one that has been noticed the most by the researchers, but there is the benefit of being able to interact and communicate with partners that can reciprocate. You''ve got the communicative partners. A classroom where all the children have disabilities, if their language--if all of them are language delayed, and with young children that would be most likely, then there are no communicative partners. So it''s very, very much of a benefit for children with disabilities to have interactive and communicative partners. Another benefit for children with disabilities is just the realistic life experiences. They''re in a classroom with kids doing things that kids their age do all the time. The realistic experiences of being with other kids, of going on field trips, of being around, participating in a play, or participating in whatever activity is going, having rainy day inside play, or having water play outside, the realistic experiences that occur every day. Then there''s the opportunity for friendship development, and we do see those friendships that occur when the children are young. And then the children with disabilities are spared that negative effect of being in a segregated classroom where all the children have disabilities and are not able to participate in a supportive learning environment. But there''s more than just benefit to children with disabilities. I alluded to it earlier, but on slide 20, I just actually put some benefits for children without disabilities. They have an opportunity for a realistic and accurate view of persons with disabilities. They begin to learn this at a young age. They can see the differences. They recognize that certain children, it takes them a longer time to do something, or they have a harder time expressing their wants and needs. They can''t participate quite as well. But typically, developing children recognize that, but they begin to learn to have a realistic view of that and an accurate view of it. And they also have the opportunity to develop a--to develop; excuse me, positive attitudes and sensitivity about differences, and then witnesses--witnessing examples of success despite the challenges. Looking at that second bullet, the development of positive attitudes and sensitivity about differences, in our school, I often will just stand out in the hall and watch, and one of the things that I love to see is when one of our children with disabilities is the line leader. All preschools have line leaders. And so, you know, we''ll have a child with a disability who might be in a walker, and their tooling down the hall quite slowly. The rest of the children are walking down the hall behind him. They''re not impatient. They''re not bothered by the fact that the line is not moving as fast as it would be if someone else were the line leader. It''s just a fact. They just accept it, and they''ve got the sensitivity. I will also notice sometimes a peer helping another peer, and it''s just--they don''t think anything about it. They see a need, and they help it. And then a wonderful thing that we get to witness is when our children with disabilities have success doing something that has been difficult for them. Sometimes it''s much harder for a child with disability to learn to walk, for example, and they''ll be in the walker for a long time, and then they will begin to get out of that walker, and we''ve watched that happen, and we''ve watched how the typically developing children just, you know, become so excited when they see the successes of the children with disabilities. Okay, so let''s move on, because there''s still more benefits. So move to slide 21, benefits for the parents of the children with disabilities. And if you think about that, particularly, with young children, having a child with a disability was not what anyone was planning, and so they have to learn about how their child fits in with typical development. So a child with--a parent of a child with a disability, when they''re in an inclusion program, they get to watch the typically developing children and they get to watch their child, and they become--they get a realistic perspective of where their child fits in with the typically developing children. This is often very helpful as they are developing a realistic outlook for what they want for their child. Another benefit that is always so nice is developing relationships and a support network with families of children without disabilities. Because we are a program that does not do bussing, all of our families bring their children in to school every morning and pick them up in the afternoon. So our hallway is quite busy between 8:30 and 9:00, with 9:00 being the final drop-off time. And so the parents get to know each other, and we watch these friendships develop, and it''s wonderful when we notice the families of a child with a disability forming a friendship with the parents of one of their child''s classmates who--the classmate who does not have disabilities. And it becomes a very healthy relationship, because they have someone that has a common interest. Their children are both in the same school, and they know that the family of the child who''s typically developing has the sensitivity to disabilities. And so there''s sensitivity to the families, which is very, very helpful to have that social network. Another benefit for the parents of children with disabilities is that they get to participate in the same activities as parents of children without disabilities. So when you''ve got the school activities going on, then the families all get to participate, rather than the families of children with disabilities only getting together with other families of other children with disabilities. It broadens their social circle in a very positive and supportive way. And then another benefit to parents of children with disabilities--benefits of inclusion is that they just don''t feel so isolated and stigmatized. They''re there. They see the acceptance of their child within the school setting, and they see other families and other children accepting their child. They don''t feel that stigmatizing that can happen when you''re isolated and only around other families of children with disabilities. And then there are benefits, I think, to parents of children without disabilities, and these are the same kind of things, only on the opposite. They get to develop a relationship with and feel a sense of support to families of children with disabilities. It gives them an opportunity to teach their children to accept individual differences and teach their children sensitivity and kindness. I often get asked about the parents of the children without disabilities. I''m asked, well, you know, do they worry that their child, who does not have a disability, will learn behaviors that aren''t appropriate from children who have disabilities. And what I am happy to be able to tell them is no, our families of children who don''t have disabilities realize the opportunity that their child has to learn sensitivity, to learn kindness, to learn acceptance, to learn tolerance, and most of our peers are siblings of older peers who were in our program, or they have been referred. We have a long wait list for parents of children with--or a wait list for children without disabilities, because the families value the things that their children get to learn, and they want that. They want to be able to teach their children that acceptance about differences, and the sensitivity and kindness that is a benefit for having your child in an inclusive environment. Moving on to slide 23, though, any time something is as good as I''ve tried to present inclusion, you''re going to run into some barriers and some difficulties. So there are some things that can make inclusion not be good, and one of them is the program quality. Just because a program is willing to serve children with disabilities and children without disabilities together, doesn''t automatically make it a high quality program. So some things that can really make it not work are having high adult/child ratios. We made the state guidelines for the highest criteria for adult/child ratios, and then we still put extra adults in our school whenever we can, because you want to have enough adults to make sure that the needs of all children are being met. Another thing that can really be a detriment to good inclusion is having a large class. If there are 20 children, it doesn''t matter if you''ve got five adults serving those 20 children. That''s just too many children if they''re really young. So not having real large classrooms is something that''s important. Inadequate staff training and preparation, this is just common sense, but if your staff is not well trained, and they''re not prepared to serve children with disabilities and children without disabilities together, then the program is not going to be a quality program, and the same with administrative support. If there is not support at the top to not only--excuse me, if there''s not support from the administrative team, then the program is not going to have the quality that is necessary. There are some other barriers to inclusion that I wanted to talk about, too, attitudes, and beliefs, and fears, philosophical differences among professionals. And there are professionals who don''t really think that inclusion is a good way to go. Obviously, someone like that is not going to be someone that is--if that person is in an administrative position, they''re not going to create a good program. So you want to be sure that people share the same attitudes and beliefs, philosophically support each other if you''re going to have a good inclusion program. Administrative resistance is certainly a barrier, and then just the plain old fear of the unknown. And I''m sure that some of you can relate to that. If you''ve not really been in an inclusion program, if you''ve not had children with disabilities in your program, the fear of how it''s going to work can really make it where you''re just not sure you''re going to be able to do it, and so that fear of the unknown is very much a difficulty. I need to stop for a second and take a drink of water, so while I''m doing that, we''ll--I''ll just let you look through a bit.
While we''re--this is Pam Williamson. While we''re waiting on Ruth, so she will be moving on into getting started with inclusions on slides 25 and 26, and we will continue through the program and do the scenarios, so that she can make sure to share all of her excellent information with you. Ruth, are you ready?
I am. Thank you so much. Needed to wet my throat a little bit. Okay, so getting started with inclusion, so I want to talk a little bit about just how you get it going. First thing you want to do is get information about the child. Find out what the child''s interests are. Now, we have to--let me stop, and let''s assume that you''ve already done the individualized assessment related to ADA, and you''ve determined that this child with the disability can come into your program. They''re not going to require--they''re not going to bring that direct threat, and it''s not going to cause an undue hardship on your program to serve them, but you''ve got to figure out how to make it work. So that''s what we''re talking about right now. So get information about the child. Find out about the child''s interests. What do they like? What do they like to do? What, you know; you''ve got your childcare center. Which of the areas that you have blocked sensory, what do they like? Do they like to sing? Do they like to sit and play by themselves? Do they like to be inside, outside, any of those types of things? What things are reinforcing to them? You know, do they like to have stickers? Do they like to have high five? You know, are they reinforced with someone who just gives them a pat on the head, or do they really need something more tangible, but find out what it is that reinforces. What gets that child going? And then you want to find out what are their favorite activities and environments. You know, do they like to--the music and movement time? Do they like to be in the block area? Do they like to be outside? Do they like to be around people, or do they like to have their space? You also need to find out what their dislikes are, what their triggers are. And as you can imagine, it''s so important to know that ahead of time, so that you''re not getting them all set up, and that you''re not facilitating difficulties, because you didn''t know that they didn''t like something, or you didn''t know what a trigger was. And then you also want to know about their eating, sleeping, toileting, communication, and play skills. Just get as much information as you can. And you notice I''ve put there that parental involvement is a key factor. So much of this information you can get from the parents. You can, you know, do it in a survey form or do it in an interview form, but it''s really important to get the information so that you can start off right with the child. Then we have to assume that if the child has a disability, that they''re somehow into the special-ed system. So they either have an IFSP, if they''re under three, or an IEP. So you want to get information about the child''s goals. You know, what is the written plan of supports and services that are going to be provided for them, and you know, when you look at that IFSP or the IEP, then you will also find some more information about the child, but who is going to be coming, and who is going to be serving the child? Okay, successful inclusion. I talked about some of the barriers, and so you want to be sure that you are providing a successful inclusion environment. So what is a successful inclusion? Well, some of the, just the broad things, is having a vision and a leadership for that, having high quality childcare for children without disabilities, a program philosophy that embraces inclusion and policies that support inclusion. So these are things that just, things that need to be in place in order to facilitate a successful inclusion environment. Another one is appropriate in-service training and support for the providers, collaborating with families, and then having interagency collaboration with the special education community. This last one is a really important one, because there should be, in your community, inclusion supports through the special education community; so, either through the early intervention program, or through the public school program. If, in your area, those two, the early intervention and the public school special education programs, are not doing a real good job, then the other interagency collaborations that you might find would be through your local Arc or your parent--different parent support groups that are around inclusion, and through your--or your disability coalitions. Often, people there will be able to help you find the access to the collaborative agencies that you want to work with. So how do we develop a good inclusion plan? All right, you first want to be sure that the teacher that''s going to take the child--so we''re back to talking about this child that is coming into your program, and the child has a disability. You''ve decided that you have to take the child, because there''s--the child has not--and I hate to say have to. You''re going to--you''re happy to take the child, because you''ve determined, through your individualized assessment, that the child''s not a direct threat to the program and that you can meet their needs. But you want to be sure that the teacher has an inclusion philosophy. So it''s planning with that teacher and making sure that they understand they''re going to be getting a child, and there will be some challenges, but there''ll also be some wonderful benefits. And so you work on that, and then plan how you''re going to prepare the other children and get parental input. Are you going to just bring the child with the disability in and not say anything to the other children in the class? That might work with your one year olds, but that''s probably not the best thing to do with your older toddlers, and certainly not with your preschoolers. So how are you going to let the other children know that they''re getting a new child, and the new child might have some differences? It''s not something that you make a big deal about, but you might have to give some explanation. And you want to talk to the parent and have them give you some ideas and help you for just preparing the class. Then next on your developing an inclusion plan, plan how you''ll ensure the child''s included into all of the activities. We use what is called an activity--adult by activity, or a child goal by activity matrix. And really, it''s just a chart. It''s just a grid, but it lists all the, like, the circle time, the art time, sensory time, all the different activities that are going on throughout the course of the day, and then it lists who''s going to be sure that the new child, or the children with disabilities, have access to those activities, and how it will happen. So how are you going to make sure that the child participates in your circle or large group time, and how are you going to be sure they participate outdoors, and what are you going to do about meals and snack times? And we''ll talk a little bit about the--well, let me just go ahead and bring it in here. Making the adaptations, thinking about it, sometimes a child will come in and the circle time might last 15 minutes in our level four classroom, and we get a new child with a disability that is not going to sit for 15 minutes. It''s unrealistic, and it should not be expected that the child sit for 15 minutes. Maybe the child can only sit for four. So that''s modification to the expectation. We''ll allow the child to sit for four, and then let them go do something else. It''s not a requirement that the child sit through the 15 minutes, and that could be--that could happen across all the activities. You want to look at what modifications and what adaptations might you make so that the child can actually get into the--the child can participate in all of the activities. And then the last part about developing an inclusion plan is how are you going to meet any of the special seating and toileting needs? This would, again, be something that you talk about with the child''s parents and with the teacher, but being sure--and there may be some times when someone who''s usually not in the classroom might have to come in and help. We use walkie-talkies, so that our classroom staff can walkie-talkie for back up, if there''s a situation where someone needs to attend to a diaper, while someone else is attending to an activity, and there needs to be another person in the classroom just helping out. So you need a plan for that. You need to seek support as soon as you feel like you need it. Don''t wait a long time, and let it just get worse, then when you sense that there''s a problem with it, but start seeking the support. Find the agencies in your area that can help you, and there are many web resources. The Center for Inclusive Childcare with the website there is a good one with just lots of great ideas that can help you on how you might--how you best--it''s not might, it''s how you best to meet the needs of the children with disabilities. Okay, so I''m going to move in now to some real life scenarios. So these are just situations that could happen and how we might deal with them. Okay, so the first one is Abby. We''re on slide 36 if you''ve gotten lost with me. But here''s Abby. So Mrs. Taylor calls your school to inquire about childcare for her daughter, Abby. Abby''s 20 months old, and she has spina bifida. She tells you that Abby is smart for her age, and the doctor says her language is right on target. Abby uses a wheelchair, and she needs to be in a school that is wheelchair accessible. What do you do? Well, if we were in a workshop situation, we could have a discussion about this, but since this is an audio conference, I''ll just move on to the next slide about what do you do, all right? Well, you need to, first of all, do that ADA assessment, gather some information. Can Abby get into your building? Well, no. In your building there is a step up, but a short ramp is a modification that''s not likely to create a significant burden. So you''ve got someone who can build the ramp, and so that''s not going to be a significant burden. The next one is can she get into her classroom? Well, your doors are wide enough that her small wheelchair will fit through the door. So that''s not going to be a problem. Let''s move on. Can Abby participate in the activities presented to the other children? Well, certainly, she can. And will enrolling Abby in your center present harm or danger to other children? Certainly not and is there justification for denying enrollment for Abby? No, there''s not. But if you go back to that first call, you might have--or you might know someone who initially might have said, "Oh, my goodness, we can''t take a child with a wheelchair." But after you go through the assessment, slide 37 and slide 38, you come to the conclusion that no, there''s no justification for denying Abby enrollment in our center, so we''re going to do it. Then you decide you need to have an inclusion plan for Abby. So what''s the inclusion plan? Little things, like, Abby''s parent''s will carry her into the building and bring her wheelchair. Miss Carol--because you don''t have a ramp, you''re going to work on building the ramp, but that can work right now. Miss Carol will be sure the classroom is arranged so she can get around the room. Miss Carol and Miss Keisha [phonetic] are excited to have Abby join the class, and they''ll make sure that someone helps her get to all activities and participates in all activities. A little bit more, Miss Jordan, Abby''s mother, will introduce Abby to the class, and Miss Carol and Miss Keisha will encourage peer support and friendship, and they even identified, "We think Bridget, and Tonya, and Torrey are particularly likely to want to befriend Abby," and Miss Trisha will come at lunchtime to help Abby. So, pretty much, with a little bit of planning, Abby''s day can be very successful in this new inclusion classroom. All right, let''s move to another situation. Here''s Winston. Winston''s mother calls inquiring about childcare. Winston''s two and a half years old and has just been diagnosed with autism. She''s working in the early intervention system, and Winston has an IFSP, so a teacher and a speech language therapist come to the home once a week, but mom needs to go back to work, and she''s looking for childcare with Winston. So what do you do? Well, as you know, first thing you''re going to do is the assessment information, the basic questions. Can Winston participate in the activities presented to the other children? Probably, but some modifications and adaptations are probably needed. Will enrolling Winston in your center present harm or danger to other children? Probably not children with autism don''t interact with other children in a way that might cause harm or danger. Heightened staff attention may be needed, but that''s all. Is there justification for denying enrollment to Winston? No. The modifications and adaptations should not cause an undue burden on the program. So what''s Winston''s inclusion plan? Well, his early intervention teacher, speech language pathologist, and parents will meet with the childcare staff and share the IFSP and provide information on what works. The teachers are excited to have Winston join their class, and after meeting with the IFSP team, they will evaluate the adult role needed during the school day and plan how they will ensure that the needed accommodations and modifications are provided. Teachers will increase their social skill awareness with the classroom and with the children, and the teachers will encourage peer support with friendships--and friendships, and they selected some peers that might work for that. So you can kind of see how we''re going. Let''s do another one, Tanya. Tanya''s grandmother calls. Tanya''s 16 months old, and her grandmother has custody. In discussing Tanya, grandmother tells you she''s the guardian, because Tanya''s mother died of AIDS. When you inquire, she tells you Tanya''s been diagnosed with AIDS. So far, though, Tanya''s been healthy, and she''s developing normally. Well, what do you do? Well, you know what to do. You first do the ADA assessment. Can Tanya participate in activities presented to other children? Yes. Will enrolling Tanya in your center present harm or danger to other children? Well, this is possible. There is significant scientific evidence that HIV/AIDS cannot be easily transmitted during the types of incidental contact that take place in childcare. Heightened staff attention will be needed, and universal precaution, such as wearing latex gloves when coming in contact with blood and bodily fluids will be meeting, but we already do that. So is there justification for denying enrollment to Tanya? No. With proper precautions, Tanya''s HIV will not present a direct threat to children and adults in the centers. So what this one is--and childcare centers cannot exclude solely because of HIV or AIDS. We''ve got the evidence, and it''s just not a--it''s not the big scare that it might have been a few--well, several years ago, but it is not a situation where you can say no, the child is not--the child cannot come to the center. It does--there''s just no proper justification. But you still need to have an inclusion plan. So what is that? School administrators will provide Tanya''s teachers with information about HIV/AIDS to ensure they understand the illness and understand Tanya does not present a health and safety threat. School administration will ensure teachers understand the need to use caution in any situation that requires contact with Tanya''s blood or bodily fluids, and another thing is to be conscious of Tanya''s immune system, because, obviously, it''s weak. So the teachers would want to inform the grandmother any time she''s exposed to common childhood diseases and the school would also want to be sure that grandmother takes her to the doctor. Okay, so let''s move on now--I think we''re probably--in your slides, there are some ideas for resources, and so you can--these are links, websites that you can look for. There are plenty of others, too; and, of course, I''m very happy to be a resource, if you want to send me an email. I think, Pam, we''re probably ready to take questions.
Right. Thank you so much for the excellent information that you shared with us today, and we will be taking questions at this time. In a moment, I''ll ask the operator to provide instructions. In the meantime, participants who are connected using streaming audio on the internet, you may submit questions online by following the instructions that were provided upon registration, and individuals who are using real time captioning may submit questions via the captioning interface. At this time, operator, if you would please provide instructions to our participants who are on the phone on the way to submit questions, I would appreciate that.
Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have a question at this time, please press star, then one, on your touchtone telephone. If you''re question has been answered, or you wish to remove yourself from the cue, please press the pound key. Again, if you have a question at this time, please press star, then one. Our first question comes from Gary Elder [phonetic] Your line is open.
Yes, hi. My name is Grace Lynne Fidel I''m a parent with a child with autism, and my question is, you had mentioned during the conference call about nondiscrimination children with disabilities. So if the childcare facility, they told me, you know, currently they don''t take any children with disabilities, and they don''t have any reference, so what should I do at this point? Should I--you know, I don''t know--I know you talk about the childcare facility, they don''t have to go by the FAPE. It''s a childcare facility.
Is there any legal reaction, if they told me no, and I don''t have any assessment or anything, but they are currently not providing any childcare, you know?
Yeah, if they told you no, and they did not do any type of an individual assessment, you would have grounds to file a complaint with--and Sherry and Pam, this might be where you can jump in and help me, here. I''m not sure who they would file the complaint with. How old is your child?
My daughter, she just turned to five, but I have--
Just turned five. Are you getting services from the school system?
Yes, she''s there at the preschool.
I have asked the district if there are any childcare facilities interacting with the district. They said they are not aware of any facility with a childcare who can take kids with special needs. So I have a difficult time finding--
Sure, sure, sure.
This is Pam. Let me step in momentarily. So we can--so the ADA center could assist you with more information. If your child has experienced discrimination and has been denied entrance into a childcare facility, the US Department of Justice could accept your complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
And as Ruth stated earlier, so a childcare organization cannot automatically exclude a child because of a disability. I would encourage you to contact your local ADA center at 1-800-949-4232 to discuss the specifics of your situation, so that we can provide you the information that you need in order to be able to move forward.
Operator, could we have the next question, please?
Can I ask my second question? That will be it. Okay, you had mentioned that--
If we could just move forward, and if we have time, we can come back to you.
Okay, great. Thank you.
Thank you. Our next question comes from Rick Edwards. Your line is open.
Hi, I have two questions, too, but I''ll ask one first. In regards to typically developing peers, that phrase, who determines who those folks are? I''ve had people who have said that their child should go to the deaf school, or should go to the blind school, because they''re integrated with people like them.
[laughter] Well, for typically developing peers, in our case, it''s just, you know, whoever comes in and wants to get on the wait list for childcare or, you know, the full time early education. That would vary, but if you''re hearing someone that says kids like them, they''re not talking about inclusion at all. So that, to me, is a red flag that''s saying they''re not really looking to put them with children who do not--typically developing means they don''t have disabilities. Did that answer your question?
Okay, thank you.
Thank you. Our next question comes from Dale Connelly. Your line is open.
Yes, could you explain or give some examples of what you think constitutes a fundamental alteration in a childcare center program?
Okay, I think a fundamental one would be if the doors were not big enough to get a wheelchair through, which is unlikely, but, you know, that would be one. If the lunchroom is upstairs, and there''s no way to, you know--it''s an old building, and there''s no way to get the child upstairs, that might be one. You know, it''s those big kinds of things, or if it''s a situation where the parents might be demanding that you hire another person to, you know, be like a one-on-one for their child. A program doesn''t have, you know, probably doesn''t have enough money to pay for another person, and if it''s the demand of the parents, then I think that would be an undue burden. Pam, you might have some other suggestions on that, too.
A fundamental alteration is going to be anything that is--that really significantly changes the program and the way it''s designed, and things that might not be able to be taken care of, including reasonable accommodations or modifications that we''ve talked about. So those are some of the things that would need to be looked at, and it would be, really, based upon the program and the way it is set up on a case-by-case basis.
I''ve got a question, if I can sneak it in, Ruth and Pam. This question is submitted online by someone who''s in the audio streaming and the question about the direct threat and wanted to know if the direct threat related to the child posing a direct threat to themselves or posing a direct threat to others.
I think, in ADA, it''s direct threat to others, but--then that''s my--I''ve not studied that enough, but I mean, I think if a child is a direct threat to themselves, that certainly is something that you would want to consider.
Peter, do you have any questions that have come in via the streaming audio?
Yes, just to follow up on what Ruth had listed as an example of fundamental alteration, you know, at childcare center not likely having to provide a one on one attendant. But what if, due to the child''s disability, they needed, you know, more attention than other children in the program? Would that be a modification that the childcare center would need to make?
I think that''s a difficult one, and I think that a childcare center who is trying to deny access or enrollment, based solely on that, where they''re saying the child requires more attention, is treading dangerously, because when you come in and look in--you know, when you look in a group of children, you''re going to find that some children require more attention than others. That''s just the distribution. So I think there would need to be some real specific guidelines on that for what it is before they use that as the sole reason for denying enrollment.
This is Pam. I would like to step in here and remind folks that, depending on the specific child, and if the child does qualify for the special education program and early intervention programs that were mentioned earlier, then there may be some other resources that can be considered. And those parents and childcare providers need to look at all resources involved, and look at various options before making that a final decision. So, captioner, so I understand that we have some questions from individuals in that area. Can you please show one of those now?
Mimi, can you bring up the captioner''s line, so that the captioner can ask any questions that have been submitted?
Yes, one moment. Okay, your line is open.
Yes, hello. There''s a question from Lauran "I am an inclusion specialist, and I''m a trainer of the ADA training for childcare providers in Indiana. It was my understanding that if a ministry, religious-based childcare, received government funding, they must comply. For example, if they received childcare vouchers or participates in the food program. Is this correct?
I think that is correct. Peter, is that--
Well, it''s not going to be--they''re still exempt under the ADA. If there is a receipt of federal dollars that may result in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act applying but you know, religious entities are expressly exempt under Title III of the ADA. As you mentioned, Ruth, the program is directly operated by the religious entity.
Receipt of federal funding may bring in the Rehabilitation Act, however.
Operator, can you open back up a line? Do we have any other questions on the phone?
We do. We have a question from Georgia Shipley. Your line is open.
Okay, the guidelines, as defined, I was just listening--this is a parent, I''m sorry, seem subjective in some ways to me and does allow for wiggle room. For instance, a child''s reaction might appear a handful to others on the onset, simply because we failed to understand the reason or the environment, what the child is reacting to. This would imply that a significant number of kids, especially those with autism, will have issues finding--the parents will find issues--have issues finding daycare, considering the number now is something like 1 in 99 the last I heard, and isn''t there a more broad and stricter guideline, if you would, for daycares?
I think that you''ve posed a situation that is very true, and I think that some of it goes back to those assumptions at the beginning and the philosophical part of this. We''re not going to be real successful with inclusions for children with disabilities into childcare unless we have a lot of people who are willing to give it a try, people who have not done it before. So there is wiggle room, and there will certainly be people who want to use that wiggle room to avoid going ahead and accepting a child and finding out that it is possible. So, you know, I think we have work to do in terms of advocating for it, and in finding, you know, finding a program where the director says, "Yes, I''ll give it a try," and you know, working--it''s a ground up movement in some ways.
And we have to remember, too, that, you know, it does come down to, as the ADA is applied, and as you look at the child in a childcare environment, it does become a case-by-case basis, and each child''s situation needs to be evaluated on its own merit, and so that a child is able to be--their needs are able to be met. And I think that one of the things that has to be continually brought to the forefront, and that''s part of the reason there is--the terminology we use, it''s broad and there''s some wiggle room in order to be able to meet the needs of the specific child. Operator, do we have another question, please?
Yes, I''m showing a question from Julia Thornton. Your line is open.
Yes, my name is Julia Thornton, which she just said, but I''m from the Disability Awareness Council in Orange County, North Carolina, Chapel Hill. My question is, I have a daughter that''s in high school, which she was under the special needs program, which she still is, but she''s going through high school, and she also wants to go through college. But I have been searching for something, you know, possibly, you know, with special need kids, of some type of program, and I was wondering if you all could give me some type of information for that.
We would--I would encourage you to call your ADA resource center, because we do have some resources and referrals available to you. You might be able to look into, and you can reach your center at 1-800-949-4232.
Okay, you said 1-800--
And so we would--because that''s outside of the realm of this particular audio conference, but your ADA resource center might be able to provide you with some resources for your child.
Okay, thank you.
Thank you. Our next question comes from Rick Edwards. Your line is open.
Yeah, I actually had this question asked of me by a daycare center, and they were asking--they had a situation very similar to Tanya''s, in your example earlier, where the child had AIDS. They asked--when people started pulling their children out, does that become, then, an undue burden.
Well, it might be. I don''t know. I mean, that''s an interesting question. I think that they probably did not do a real good job of educating people about that, and that''s a sticky one, because, you know, how do you--you want to preserve confidentiality, and at the same time--so it might be that--I don''t know, ADA people--Pam, you probably need to take this over.
Please keep in mind that any time you have a child with a disability, so that the information needs to be kept confidential unless, so a parent chooses to share it. And the only people that need to be in the know would be the teachers or the director of the childcare center who is working directly with the child. There is no reason a parent of another child ever should be--to know about the disabilities of a child in the childcare center.
And that''s one of the answers that we gave them, and they came back with the idea that, you know, first of all, anything that we do in terms--or that they were doing in terms of trying to keep from the spreading of the virus, you know, is going to raise questions; and, of course, in the real world, that information gets out there. And then the question comes, you know, even though we assure the parents that there is no chance that your kid''s going to get it, you know, unless they have an open cut and they, you know, pass bodily fluids, that kind of argument, you know, the chances are really small. And the parents say, "Well, I''m not going to take that chance with my kid."
Well, again, I have to go back to the confidentiality thing, and I--and the fact that other parents are pulling their children out would not necessarily constitute an undue burden under the ADA. And we just have to continue to be able to move away from those myths and stereotypes and continue to educate people, and also to emphasize confidentiality, and that confidentiality part is under the ADA, and it is very strong. All right, do we have any other questions from the streaming audio, Peter?
Not at this moment.
Okay. Captioner, do we have other questions that you need share with us?
Yes. Can you hear me?
Yes, there is a question from Marcy "If the local agencies will not provide, even if the IEP, aides to the children, what other resources are available?" After that, there is one more question that has already been answered and no others.
If the--okay, so the question is if the LEA will not provide assistance, like an aide, educational assistant, what other resources are available? I think then, you know, you''re out there looking for--going to your disability organizations within your community to see if there are some other people that you might find to be an assistant. But I would encourage the families to get help from an advocacy agency around why the school system is not providing additional assistance, if it is needed, because that is part of IDEA, that the child be educated in the least restrictive environment with supports and aids, and that includes, you know, an educational assistant.
Individuals may also want to contact--in addition to contacting the ADA centers, they may also want to contact the parent training information centers. And if people need the information about those particular centers, they can contact our offices, and we would be happy to provide those referrals to those centers. We have time for one more question. Operator, do we have any other questions?
Yes, I''m showing a question from Karen Moole Your line is open.
Yes, hi, this is Telma. I''m a special needs childcare referral specialist, and I was just wondering can childcare centers or providers charge more for a child with a disability than for a typically developing child, especially if the accommodations that are needed for that child with a disability are greater and require additional support?
No, I don''t think they can. Sometimes there might be situations where you would work something out that the parent wanted and paid for, but in terms of just policy-wise that we charge more, no, you can''t do that.
So, at this time, unfortunately, we cannot take any other questions, because we are at the bottom of our time. So this will conclude today''s audio conference program. We know that many of you may still have some questions, both for our presenter, and we do apologize if you didn''t get a chance to ask a question. Dr. Wolery has provided her contact information in the slides that were provided to you. However, I would also encourage you to call your regional ADA center at 800-949-4232. We do want to thank Dr. Wolery for sharing her time and knowledge with us today, and I think that everyone learned from today''s program. The digital recording of today''s session, as well as a written transcript, will be available for viewing and downloads at ADA, www.ada-audio.org, and it will be posted within the next ten business days. I would like to encourage you to join us for next month''s session on September 21st, titled, "Corrections in the ADA, Balancing the Rights of People with Disabilities While Incarcerated." The presenter will be Elizabeth Stanosheck Jeanette, and she is the ADA and Victim Services Coordinator for the Department of Correctional Services through the state of Nebraska. You may review the information at the website, and familiarize yourself with the full array of programs available during the year. If you have specific questions related to the audio conference, itself, you may 1-877-232-1990, or email email@example.com. Thank you for joining us today, and have a great afternoon; and at the conclusion of this session, you will receive an email with a link to an online session survey. We ask you to please complete the evaluation for today''s program, because we do value your input, and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Thank you, and have a great day.