This session is essential to set the tone for audiences who are planning for inclusive services for young children with disabilities and their families in early care and education programs. It is important that this initial setting creates a safe climate for personal reflections and sharing. The session helps participants consider their vision for including individuals with disabilities in their programs and communities and help them explore the importance of working collaboratively to enhance services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
Introductions that allow people to get to know each other are particularly important the first time a group is together. The suggested opener may be modified to gather input or identify issues that may be of importance to the group. In the brief introduction suggested, participants briefly share their name, role, and program. They also share one word or idea that comes to mind when they think about inclusion. Other options include sharing key issues that affect inclusive services, effective strategies that build inclusive services, reasons for (or the importance of) providing inclusive services in natural environments, etc. Some of these openers may take longer than others. Facilitators may want to chart some of the ideas, issues, or strategies to refer to later in the session.
In the wrap up, the importance of having a vision for inclusive services is highlighted. Participants are asked to consider developing or revisiting their own vision for services to children and families. The next session provides suggested activities for developing a common vision for inclusive services. It includes opportunities to consider how collaboration and teaming are essential elements of a vision for including infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.