Early Childhood Special Education: Insights from Educators and Families
Programs and services designed to meet the needs of young children with disabilities have increased substantially in recent years, often times without evaluating how effective the programs and services are at meeting the needs of children and families. This study sought to investigate how principals, teachers, and parents perceived how Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) programs across 31 schools in a large, urban city in the United States (US) meet the needs of young children and their families. Thirty principals, 45 teachers, and 301 families participated in the investigation. Overall, all stakeholders identified the programs’ structure, personnel, and home to school connections as strengths. They also believed that ECSE programs were an appropriate place for young children with disabilities. Families and teachers indicated satisfaction with the frequency of communication; however, both families and principals still wanted to see an increase in communication between home and school. Areas needing improvement included critical elements needed in ECSE programs related to human resources, increased funding, and appropriate adult-child ratios. Implications for practice are discussed.
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