Early childhood personnel have studied, practiced, and dedicated themselves to the education of the young child, and it is in everyone's best interest that we create environments that help to recruit and retain them. Simon Sinek, author of multiple leadership books, says that one important goal is to ensure those we work with "wake up every single morning inspired, feel safe wherever they are, and end the day fulfilled by the work that they do." Some practical resources to aid in those efforts, reduce stress, and increase safety and fulfillment, are:
What About You Workbook was created by the National Center on Family Homelessness to aid personnel to be successful in this demanding work by taking care of yourself as well.
NAEYC's Preventing Compassion Fatigue offers self-care strategies to remain strong and healthy enough to be a champion for children and families.
Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development offers administrators a set of posters that share specific techniques to reduce stress.
Early childhood educators work in a variety of environments and programs, fulfilling a number of roles in order to support programs and services for children with disabilities. To support recruitment and retention efforts ADE units are pursuing several strategies. The ESS Recruitment and Retention team has developed resources in support of these efforts. The Early Childhood Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) team is developing resources and is tracking employment trends using survey data from state administrators of ECE programs. From a national perspective, the OSEP Ideas that Work Tool Kit to Attract, Prepare and Retain Personnel offers briefs, video vignettes, and Symposia Series.
Video Vignettes—these videos offer the perspectives of educators and related service providers from around the country regarding what helped them to join and stay in special education.
Leverage Briefs—this document from OSEP provides specific actions that can help attract and retain practitioners. Included is information specific to early childhood special education.
Is an Arizona teaching certificate required? Certificate requirements are dependent upon program requirements, school district policy, and state regulations. Preschool special education teachers are required to hold one of the following in order to provide specially designed instruction to preschool aged children with disabilities, unless the IEP team determines on an individualized basis that there is a more qualified person to meet particular identified needs ARS 15-763 (A). Please contact the ADE Certification Unit for additional certification requirements and the Arizona Department of Health Child Care Licensing for qualification requirements for licensed preschool programs.
An Early Childhood Special Education Certificate; or
A K-12 Special Education (excludes VI and HI) Certificate with an Early Childhood endorsement; or
A K-12 Special Education (excludes VI and HI) Certificate in combination with a valid Early Childhood certificate; or
(New) A Standard Professional teaching certificate with a Mild/Moderate Disabilities PreK-12 endorsement; or
(New) A Standard Professional teaching certificate with a Moderate/Severe Disabilities PreK-12 endorsement.
July 2022 Certification Update: Some recent news stories related to Senate Bill (SB) 1159 provided inaccurate information related to the requirement that teachers hold a bachelor’s degree.
States are required to report on three child outcomes for preschool to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and, as a result, schools are required to report child outcomes data on every child identified as having a disability that has an IEP. Arizona currently uses Teaching Strategies Gold to measure the performance of preschool children with disabilities and report child outcomes. Beginning July 1, 2023, the ADE will no longer require PEAs to use a single tool to report child outcomes. Schools may conduct the Child Outcomes Summary (COS) Process using district-selected methods and tools or continue to use Teaching Strategies Gold. If a PEA decides to adopt a different methodology, training for staff on the new procedures is available through the Arizona Professional Learning and Development platform. An overview of the COS process was presented at the Special Education Professionals Check in on March 16, 2023. The process used must result in reliable and timely data submissions. The Child Outcomes Scores must reflect the IEP team's view of the child's performance upon entry to the program and at their exit. The following resources explain the process and the professional development activities to prepare school teams to conduct Child Outcomes Summary ratings.
One approach to supporting inclusive programs and classrooms is to determine the costs of major operational components. The following tables provide a list of factors to consider as programs calculate the major costs of an individual classroom. The table may be modified to add indirect or other costs.
Tips to support the process of identifying and serving children with disabilities are shared through flow charts, sample tools, and resources useful for in person and remote administration from the screening process to development of the IEP.
The benefits of participation in early childhood settings in which children with and without disabilities learn together have been well documented. Arizona's Early Childhood Inclusion Task Force has developed specific recommendations to further the opportunities for children with disabilities to participate in regular early childhood programs. Resources that explain the continuum of placement options, outcomes research behind inclusive settings, and school and program level self-assessments of quality are provided.
As children with disabilities who receive Early Intervention services through Arizona's Part C agency, AzEIP, approach the three year old mark, it is anticipated that their families will consider continuing educational services through Part B or Early Childhood Special Education preschool services. School districts will be notified that families are interested in preschool services when children are between the ages of two years six months and two years nine months through a "PEA Notification." Schools must work with the issuing service provider or Service Coordinator to conduct and attend the transition conference so that families will know about the transition process and the services that may be available to them. For questions about Preschool Transition Conference activities, contact Program Specialists in the Early Childhood Special Education unit at the C to B Inbox.
Preschool aged children with disabilties whose families are experiencing homelessness are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education. Homelessness may be defined as those who lack a fixed, regular, adequate nighttime residence. This includes students who are sharing the housing of other persons due to a loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or campgrounds due to lack of alternative adequate accomodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals. A preschool aged child who has been identified as a child with a disability would contact the school district of origin or the school where they are temporarily residing to implement the IEP; A child who has been in Early Intervention or a child who has not yet been identified as a child with a disability is considered potentially eligible for special education and would proceed through the special education Child Find process to determine eligibility and the need for services. Each school district has a McKinney-Vento Homeless Liason/Coordinator that can support families to obtain needed services. Dual Language Learners with Disabilities:
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) reports that many young children come to child care, preschool, and kindergarten programs as English language learners or as dual language learners (DLLs) (USDOE 2015). The US Census reports that 21.7% of the citizenry speak a language other than English at home. The scientific consensus confirms that bilingualism is a strength and an asset pointing to cognitive benefits and future professional advantages.
Suspension and expulsions take place in early childhood programs at higher rates than in K-12 programs and are greatly disproportionate to young boys of color. These practices have been shown to influence a number of adverse outcomes related to development, health and education. The following resources describe the importance of preventing and severely limiting these practices in early childhood settings.
Civil Rights legislation and Children with Disabilities in Child Care Settings
According to the Americans with Disabilites Act (ADA), children with disabilities are entitled to access publicly available programs, which include child care programs that are open to the public. Title II of the ADA covers child care centers, and Title III covers government agencies' programs. The definition of disability is broader than what public schools consider through Child Find activities and, as a result, may include children without a medical diagnosis or educational eligibility label. According to the ADA, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered. In the Commonly Asked Questions section of the ADA.gov site, the topic of toileting is addressed:
Provision of Services to Children with Disabilities Not Yet Toilet Trained-Required?
Q: We diaper young children, but we have a policy that we will not accept children more than three years of age who need diapering. Can we reject children older than three who need diapering because of a disability?
A: Generally, no. Centers that provide personal services such as diapering or toileting assistance for young children must reasonably modify their policies and provide diapering services for older children who need it due to a disability. Generally speaking, centers that diaper infants should diaper older children with disabilities when they would not have to leave other children unattended to do so.
Centers must also provide diapering services to young children with disabilities who may need it more often than others their age.
Some children will need assistance in transferring to and from the toilet because of mobility or coordination problems. Centers should not consider this type of assistance to be a "personal service."
Q: We do not normally diaper children of any age who are not toilet trained. Do we still have to help older children who need diapering or toileting assistance due to a disability?
A: It depends. To determine when it is a reasonable modification to provide diapering for an older child who needs diapering because of a disability and a center does not normally provide diapering, the center should consider factors including, but not limited to, (1) whether other non-disabled children are young enough to need intermittent toileting assistance when, for instance, they have accidents; (2) whether providing toileting assistance or diapering on a regular basis would require a child care provider to leave other children unattended; and (3) whether the center would have to purchase diapering tables or other equipment.
If the program never provides toileting assistance to any child, however, then such a personal service would not be required for a child with a disability. Please keep in mind that even in these circumstances, the child could not be excluded from the program because he or she was not toilet trained if the center can make other arrangements, such as having a parent or personal assistant come and do the diapering.
Q: What are the basic requirements of Title II of the ADA?
A: Child care services provided by government agencies, such as Head Start, summer programs, and extended school day programs, must comply with Title II of the ADA. Both titles apply to a child care center's interactions with the children, parents, guardians, and potential customers that it serves.
Q: What are the basic requirements of Title III?
A: The ADA requires that child care providers not discriminate against persons with disabilities on the basis of disability; that is, that they provide children and parents with disabilities with an equal opportunity to participate in the child care center’s programs and services. Specifically:
Centers cannot exclude children with disabilities from their programs unless their presence would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others or require a fundamental alteration of the program.
Centers have to make reasonable modifications to their policies and practices to integrate children, parents, and guardians with disabilities into their programs unless doing so would constitute a fundamental alteration.
Centers must provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services needed for effective communication with children or adults with disabilities, when doing so would not constitute an undue burden.
Centers must generally make their facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. Existing facilities are subject to the readily achievable standard for barrier removal, while newly constructed facilities and any altered portions of existing facilities must be fully accessible.
State Agency Resources:
AZ Department of Health Child Care Licensing—Licensing regulations specific to serving children with disabilities were developed (see pps 44-45). The guidance includes standards for toilet training, diapering and use of a wheelchair.
All school districts, charter schools, secure care facilities, and the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (ASDB) are required to annually administer the State Performance Plan Indicator 8 Parent Involvement Survey to parents of students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The survey will open on March 1 via ADEConnect Data Surveys.