California MAP* to Inclusion and Belonging… *Making Access Possible November 2022 Newsletter (Updated: January 2024)
Beginning Together: Changing the World for Children with Disabilities!
Everyone who has a role in early childhood programs and is striving to promote and expand inclusion can help change the world for young children with disabilities. Developing a program-wide vision for inclusion, facilitating collaborations between early care and education staff and special education/early intervention, providing training on inclusion for teachers, families and communities, inviting children with disabilities into your program, talking with a family about the unique strengths and needs of their child and incorporating IEP or IFSP goals into the daily routine—all contribute to including children with disabilities in early care and education programs and to changing the world!
In this issue of the MAP Newsletter we are promoting the Beginning Together Inclusion Facilitator Virtual Online Institute. The theme and the goal of the Beginning Together Institute is to “change the world” for children with disabilities by offering local early care and education teams the opportunity to create a vision of inclusion for their community, assess the current status and resources available for inclusion, gain knowledge, skills and resources on facilitating inclusion and create an action plan for inclusion for their community.
We’re also celebrating the accomplishments of individuals and county teams who have attended Beginning Together Institutes since 2019. Despite the setbacks of the pandemic county teams and individuals have developed collaborations, provided trainings, facilitated meetings, conducted consultations and provided ongoing support for their teams and colleagues involved in implementing inclusion. As of January 2024, 640 people have attended Beginning Together Institutes and 179 have become Certified Inclusion Facilitators.
In this issue:
1. Beginning Together Institute
Beginning Together Inclusion Facilitator Institute, funded by the California Department of Social Services with quality assurance funds, is designed to support small teams* of trainers with expertise and experience supporting inclusive practice from counties or regions. Participants will be provided with tools and resources to increase teacher’s confidence and competence in inclusive practice for ALL young children ages birth through five-years.
The Institute will also include a framework for guiding communities to move forward with a solid plan for increasing inclusive options for children ages birth through kindergarten. It is perfect for acquiring materials for use in professional development under IEEEP grants. Participants in the Institute will have the opportunity to earn an Inclusion Facilitator Certificate after attending the Institute and will be able to provide future training and/or facilitation in their community. The California Department of Social Services, Child Care and Development Division will issue the certificates in collaboration with Beginning Together. This Institute meets the criteria for IEEEP Grant funding.
Join Us! Become an Inclusion Facilitator!
The Beginning Together Institutes Virtual Online Inclusion Facilitator Training for 2024 is every Thursday between February 29 - March 28, 2024 (7, 14, 21, 28) with 4 hours of synchronous training from 12 pm to 4 pm and 2-4 hours of asynchronous activities are offered between trainings.
*Attend as a Team!
Participants are encouraged to attend as part of a team with other early educators, special educators, administrators, early interventionists and others who work with children with disabilities and their families in their counties. Attendance as part of a team promotes a common understanding of inclusion and collaborations in promoting, training and implementing inclusion both within an organization and within a community. Teams may include individuals within an organization and/or across organizations within the county. Teams work together to examine the current status of inclusion in their county or community and create their own definition of and vision for inclusion. At the end of the Institute Teams are required to submit team action plans to “Change the World.”
Gain expertise to train on key inclusion topics! Training of Trainers on Inclusion.
The Beginning Together Institute is a training of trainers on the essential elements of inclusion in early care and education settings. Five main topics are covered. Setting the Stage for Inclusion covers attitudes, barriers, definitions, and a creating a vision for inclusion. It also introduces the change process and use of appreciative inquiry to help facilitate systems change toward inclusion. When Concerns Arise offers guidance for providers in talking with families when they are concerned about a child’s development. Inclusion Works!, based on the book with the same title, provides an introduction to inclusion and demonstrates successful inclusion strategies for children from birth to age 12 with a variety of disabilities and examples of the most common types of support. Building Blocks provides a comprehensive guide and tools for supporting a child with disabilities in the classroom. Inclusion Strategies for Infants and Toddlers focuses on the inclusion of the youngest children with disabilities in child care settings.
2. Becoming Certified
After completing the Beginning Together Institute participants are offered the opportunity to become Inclusion Facilitators certified by Beginning Together in collaboration with the California Department of Social Services. Requirements to become certified include conducting one of the five Training of Trainers trainings on inclusion introduced at the Institute and one inclusion facilitator activity: a consultation supporting the inclusion of a child with a disability in a program or the facilitation of a community meeting on inclusion. Potential Inclusion Facilitators are given a year to complete these requirements. Inclusion Facilitator certification builds capacity for expertise in training and facilitating inclusion and provides the incentive for teams to train on inclusion in their counties.
Post Institute Sharing and Support: Inclusion Facilitator Webinars and Liaisons
Following the Beginning Together Institutes periodic webinars support inclusion facilitators by providing information about the certification process, education and resources on inclusion and an opportunity for County teams and individuals to share their progress on facilitating inclusion in their community. The final webinar is a “Celebration of Accomplishments” devoted to county sharing of their inclusion successes. Ongoing support is provided by a Beginning Together Inclusion Liaison to assist participants in completing certification and providing expertise on inclusion.
3. Certified Inclusion Facilitators
|Institute (Month - Location)
|Certified Inclusion Facilitators
|May 2019 - Berkley
|63 Total as of August 2021
25% of 2019 Institute Participants
|August 2019 - Tulare
|December 2019 - San Diego
|March 2021 - Virtual
|45 Total as of July 2022
31% of Institute Participants
|March 2022 - Virtual
|65 Total as of July 2023
51% of Institute Participants
|March 2023 - Virtual
|6 Total as of January 2024
In 2019 Beginning Together conducted 3 in-person Institutes. The COVID 19 pandemic that began in March 2020 disrupted action plans and plans for completing Inclusion Facilitator Certification Requirements as well as the normal functioning of all early care and education agencies and organizations. The deadline for completing Certification requirements was extended for all 2019 Institute graduates to May 2021. Despite the pandemic, 63 people from the combined 2019 Institute graduates completed requirements and became Certified Inclusion Facilitators as of August 2021.
In 2021 Beginning Together Institutes were converted to virtual online training with 4 hours of synchronous training each Thursday afternoon in March followed by 2-4 hours of asynchronous activities (readings, videos and journal entries) between trainings. A total of 143 people attended the Beginning Together virtual Institute in March of 2021. Thirty percent of the participants or 45 people from 17 teams in counties throughout California completed the requirements to become certified as Inclusion Facilitators during the 2021-2022 program year.
The number of certified Inclusion Facilitators continued to grow after the 2022 Institute with 51 % of BT Institute participants (65) becoming certified. We now have a total of 179 certified Inclusion Facilitators in California and more will be certified from the graduates of the 2023 Institute.
Celebration of Accomplishments
In May 2021, March 2022, and April 2023, webinars were held celebrating the accomplishments of the Beginning Together Institute graduates. County Teams and individuals presented information about their inclusion accomplishments and shared resources. Since Beginning Together is a recommended source of training required by California Department of Education for Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program (IEEEP), many of the 2021 Beginning Together Institute County Teams were recipients of IEEEP grants. When county teams were asked to describe their inclusion accomplishments that they were most excited about, they included activities funded by the IEEEP grant. One participant said, “The IEEEP Grant gave us funding, but the Beginning Together trainings gave us a foundation (of skills and knowledge) to move forward with inclusion.” Some highlights of the accomplishments include:
- Trainings on inclusion topics in every county, with many in Spanish and some in Mandarin;
- County and regional inclusion conferences;
- Five part online inclusion training series;
- Nine month online inclusion training series
- Communities of Practice across agencies and within programs focused on inclusion;
- Child care provider cafes and parent cafes with inclusion topics;
- Monthly inclusion coalition meetings
- Support for co-teaching in Head Start Classrooms
- Inclusive afterschool programs;
- New positions entitled “Inclusion Specialist”;
- Building accessible playgrounds and classrooms;
- County-wide celebration of inclusion accomplishments;
- New collaborations across organizations and within organizations; and
- Plans for a child with multiple disabilities to attend in person school for the first time in the fall!
Most of the teams in attendance included one or more people who were certified Inclusion Facilitators. Wonderful things are happening to expand inclusion throughout the state!
Certified Inclusion Facilitator Heat Map
The Certified Inclusion Facilitator Heat Map shows the distribution of all Inclusion Facilitators certified as of January 2024 throughout California. It represents the capacity building efforts of 179 Inclusion Facilitators in 33 different counties. Local Inclusion Facilitators have provided multiple trainings, meetings and consultations on inclusion for early care and education providers and agencies in the past 4 years and they have the local expertise to do more! Inclusion Facilitators are changing the world for children with disabilities in their counties!
4. Beginning Together Institute Training Expanding
The Beginning Together Institute is continuing to expand its reach throughout California. The heat map of Institute Participants from 2019 to 2023 visually demonstrates both the number of people trained and the number of different counties represented in California. Two thirds of the state is dark purple representing a total of 640 people trained from 41 different counties. More people than ever before have the knowledge and skills needed to implement and train on inclusion. The demand for comprehensive training on inclusion continues to be strong with support and leadership from the California Department of Education and the California Department of Social Services. We look forward to training more teams and adding more certified Inclusion Facilitators in 2024! Join us in changing the world!
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