Almost half of the residents of Summit County do NOT believe that children with special needs should be included in classrooms with their typically developing peers. Although sentiment has improved over the past five years, this is a shocking and sobering statistic. There is a great deal of work to be done in educating others about developmental disabilities and the importance of inclusion. Summit DD’s CPI program was designed to do just that.
The Community Partnership for Inclusion, or CPI, program was developed in 2010 to offer training to child care professionals about inclusive environments. Inclusive child care means that all children, with and without special needs, are cared for and learn together. Inclusive learning environments are ideal for children with special needs, as well as their typically developing peers.
How the program works
The program works through skilled Summit DD developmental specialists who provide inclusion training for local child care center staff, including inclusion strategies and inclusive play skills. They can also provide techniques to address specific behaviors. The developmental specialists offer best practices, as well as equipment or other adaptations to ensure the success of inclusive experiences.
Holly Brugh, director of Children’s Services at Summit DD, created the program because she believes that finding quality child care centers or preschools is a priority for all parents. She recognizes that parents of children with special needs often have difficulty finding child care or preschool settings that have the knowledge to support children with special needs. “Access to quality child care in a child’s own community frees parents from being forced to choose between their jobs and caring for their child with special needs,” said Brugh.
“Parents benefit from knowing that their children have access to safe, nurturing care while they need to be away. Children, with and without disabilities, benefit from a greater sense of community and friendship,” Brugh elaborated. In one instance, a family was able to cut their commute from 22 minutes each way, down to a half mile, thanks to CPI. By fostering inclusive child care environments in families’ own communities, parents are not limited in choices for child care, and children with special needs are able to start building relationships with the same peers that they will follow throughout school.
Impact on the community
The CPI program has had far-reaching effects on the communities in Summit County already. Through partnerships with 16 child care centers in SummitCounty:
- 37 children are now being offered quality, inclusive child care in their own communities;
- 198 child care staff have the training to nurture a diversity of kids; and
- 1,024 children get to experience friendship with their peers, regardless of ability.
Summit DD plans to increase the impact of inclusion with up to five additional partner centers by the end of this year. To learn more about Summit DD’s CPI program, check out all of the supports available for children.