Frequently Asked Questions

Does Head Start enroll children with disabilities?

Head Start regulations require that at least 10 percent of enrolled children are children with disabilities. Each Head Start program is responsible for establishing selection criteria and may include children with disabilities from families that have incomes above the Poverty Guidelines, in addition to enrolling children from families with incomes below the Poverty Guidelines. The Program Instruction (PI) on Enrollment of Children with Disabilities, Issuance Date 3-10-2009 provides further details.

What is developmental screening and why is it important?

Screening for potential developmental delays in children allows for early treatment and supportive services. On the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, Head Start educators and families will find a number of resources on developmental screening tools.

What is the difference between screening and assessment?

Both activities may use a standardized tool. A screening is a brief glimpse of a child’s health and development. Assessment is a continual process that tracks a child’s developmental progress over time. For more information, see EHS Tip Sheet No. 6.

I'm worried about my child. Where can I find more information to learn whether he or she is on track?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a website to help you get familiar with the typical developmental milestones children go through. You can see milestones for children from 2 months to 5 years old. The CDC also provides information about what you can do when you are concerned. Here you will find information on developmental screening, a printable milestones checklist, and hints for talking to your doctor about your concerns.

Where can I find out more about specific type of disabilities?

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) has fact sheets on specific disabilities that describe the disability, offers tips, and connects you to further resources. Many fact sheets also are in Spanish.

How do I individualize for children with disabilities?

The roof of the NCQTL House is all about individualizing for children. Individualized teaching strategies refer to a variety of directed, explicit instructional strategies used by teachers frequently and systematically to help a child achieve a learning objective. The child's learning activity may or may not look different from the learning activity of other children in the classroom.

Where can I find resources on instructional strategies that are effective for children with special needs?

The Head Start Center for Inclusion provides information and develops resources and materials that include web-based learning opportunities and evidence-based instructional strategies. The goal of the center is to increase the competence, confidence, and effectiveness of personnel in Head Start programs to include children with disabilities. The Center provides Head Start teaching staff with opportunities to learn innovative and research-based practices to improve their work with children who have disabilities.

How do I talk to parents if I suspect their child may have a disability?

There are number of resources on the ECLKC that can help you talk to parents about suspected disabilities. It also is important for parents to understand their rights and how to communicate with LEA staff.

How do I help Head Start staff understand inclusion?

The Infant and Toddler and Preschool Inclusion Sessions of the SpecialQuest Multimedia Training Library is rooted in the key concept of “belonging.” These sessions examine the beliefs and attitudes that influence and affect adults and children in inclusive settings and provide numerous practical strategies and tools to help families and providers implement high-quality inclusive services. Nine sessions, complete with facilitator scripts and handouts, accompany the videos.

Where can I learn more about IDEA?

IDEA is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that ensures rights and services to children and youth ages birth to 21. You can learn more about IDEA at http://idea.ed.gov.

Where can I find information about state disability laws and policies?

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) has links to each state’s Part C and Section 619 regulations.

Last Reviewed: November 2009

Last Updated: July 17, 2014