Inclusion benefits every child because kids are better together
This KIT policy platform includes policies that facilitate meaningful inclusion of children with disabilities through:
- The people who work with children, increasing the diversity of the workforce, and ensuring they have training, positive work environment, and support
- The programs for children, helping ensure they have the support and proper standards
KITs primary focus is on programs for children and the people working in them, KIT also cares deeply for the children, with and without disabilities, in those programs and their successful transition into adulthood.
Embedded across all policies is the core principle that Kids Included Together supports diversity, equity, and inclusion within the field of children’s education and programs. KIT also supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and its ratification by the United States, as an instrument to support the human rights of individuals with disabilities and as a method to help society view disability as a natural part of life.
While these issues represent a broad focus for KIT, our level of engagement on different issues will vary. KIT will also establish within this list a smaller set of specific legislative priorities annually that will be the primary focus of KIT’s advocacy work.
KIT supports policies that help ensure those working in programs involving children are diverse and have the training, work environment, and support to facilitate meaningful inclusion of children with disabilities.
To achieve that, KIT supports policies that:
Recruitment and Training
- Recruit and maintain staff in all roles that reflect the diverse student population, including those marginalized by race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, sexuality, and ability.
- Help schools, childcare facilities, and other youth programs attract and retain qualified staff through competitive compensation packages by ensuring quality employee benefits, including paid parental leave, sick and bereavement leave, personal time, quality affordable health insurance, student loan payback program, and retirement benefits for all providers.
- Expand high-quality staff professional training, development, and continued education opportunities.
- To this end, KIT supports changes to the Higher Education Act (HEA), particularly Title II (Teacher Quality Enhancement), to expand upon the current statute to ensure early and K-12 educators, leaders, and professional support staff that are trained and have the skills to provide quality inclusive education opportunities for all children.
- Fund improving education programs for Early Childhood Education instructors.
- Ensure classroom and field training programs for education professionals incorporate:
- Inclusion training and espouse the benefits of inclusive education; and
- Disability culture into multicultural competency training for education professionals.
- Encourage and maintain strong professional licensing requirements.
- Ensure working conditions are safe, up-to-date, and supportive for all employees.
- Balance the hiring of new staff with the retention of experienced staff members. Compensation plans and career ladders should address wage and benefits compression issues through pay increases and advancement opportunities for experienced staff.
- Invest, promote to leadership roles, and empower people of diverse and often underrepresented backgrounds, such as those of color, LGBTQ+, and with disabilities.
- Provide for professional development/continuing education opportunities for education professionals, including early childhood education, in inclusive practices.
- Provide flexible loan forgiveness that encourages young professionals to work in early childhood settings, such as adding early education positions as an area of national need.
KIT supports policies that help ensure programs involving children are meaningfully inclusive.
To achieve that, KIT supports policies that:
- Ensure or encourage organizations that have a “disability inclusion rating” in their accreditation rating systems for childcare, education, and youth programs.
- Assist childcare, education, and youth programs to meet disability inclusive operating standards.
- Require, or at least give preference to, childcare, education, and youth programs receiving federal funding, such as Head Start, that meet disability inclusion standards.
- Have child centric education policies that support positive behavior and find the child’s strengths.
- Incorporate multicultural competency that includes disability culture.
- Encourage differentiated instruction – providing children with different paths to learning.
- Work toward seeking equity for other groups at risk of marginalization in schools, including girls, young women, gender non-conforming youth, lesbian and gay students, children from non-dominant religious, ethnic, and multi-linguistic families.
- Continue to support and require example setting high quality, disability inclusive youth programs and services such as those used by our military community. The military's childcare and other youth systems are mission critical for its readiness. Such support includes:
- Continued/enhanced funding for the Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs, referred to as the Office of Special Needs, which is responsible for enhancing and improving support for families of children with special needs.
- Eliminating the wait list by fully funding the Military-VA Construction Appropriations bill to fund construction projects of additional childcare centers at bases where the demand outstrips the supply.
- Create and use the defense model for national early childhood education programs that embrace inclusiveness practices.
- Adopt through our childcare system the principles of the Military Childcare Act of 1989 by ensuring at least one employee for each program is designated to provide ongoing training and modeling of staff.
- Require robust inclusion provisions for any accrediting certification, including bolstering those of current national accreditation organizations, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Council on Accreditation.
- Expand funding and requirements for early intervention services for infants, toddlers, and young children, such as creating a national, full-day, universal preschool program.
- This will provide high-quality childcare and early learning to kids with disabilities across the country, so families can count on having early childhood care that is responsive to their child’s needs.
- Provide adequate and sustainable funding to ensure that the services reach all targeted beneficiaries and that good quality services are provided.
- When children with disabilities are supported and included, they can thrive. KIT understands how much government funding matters in the classroom. Making sure that students with disabilities have access to a great public education includes fully funding IDEA.
- Increase the number of paraprofessionals and supporting teachers (and provide them with training) to meet students with disabilities needs.
- Ensure states include steps toward inclusion in their ESSA state plans and invest in technical assistance for schools and teachers toward true inclusion.
- Discourage exclusion and seclusion punishment factors in favor of behavioral support interventions.
- Call for the vigilant enforcement of IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA, and other state and federal laws and regulations protecting and promoting the rights of individuals with disabilities; and make sure that parents and children have the resources to seek the support to which they are entitled.
- Ensure accessible childcare, school, and youth program infrastructure and equipment and are convenient and enjoyable to use for everyone.
- Encourage federal standards on universal design when local schools receive federal funds to repair or build new schools and make sure they are safe and accessible to everyone.
- Offer a universal design for learning (UDL) framework for inclusive instructional design.
- Encourage the invention and bringing down the costs of assistive technologies that allow children with disabilities to enjoy fuller participation in their daily lives.
- Using technology will improve the lives of children with disabilities. Technological advancement has brought many positive changes for people with disabilities, improving their education, health, safety, and ability to interact with the world.